Vitamin D rich foods are becoming increasingly recognised for their health benefits. As a result, many of us are actively seeking ways to ensure a regular intake of this crucial nutrient.
Often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D plays a crucial role in various functions of our bodies.
However, with limited sunlight in colder months and indoor lifestyles, it can be challenging to get enough of it.
However, there are numerous vitamin D rich foods that can help us maintain optimal levels of this vital nutrient.
The Significance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that plays a vital role in several functions of our body.
Notably, it regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, thus contributing significantly to the health of our bones and teeth.
Furthermore, it supports our immune, brain and nervous systems.
A deficiency can lead to serious health issues, including osteoporosis, certain cancers and heart disease.
Vitamin D Rich Foods
When the sun isn’t enough, vitamin D rich foods are your next best bet for maintaining healthy vitamin D levels.
From fish to fortified foods, there are a multitude of options available to help keep your body functioning optimally.
Fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines are some of the best natural sources of vitamin D.
A 3.5-ounce serving of salmon can provide up to 570 International Units (IU) of vitamin D, nearly 72% of the Daily Value (DV).
It’s also a heart-healthy option due to its high omega-3 fatty acid content.
Cod Liver Oil
Though not everyone’s first choice, cod liver oil is an excellent vitamin D source.
A single tablespoon provides around 1,360 IU of vitamin D.
Besides vitamin D, it’s also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Certain varieties of mushrooms, like maitake and shiitake, are rich in vitamin D.
They are unique as they contain vitamin D2, a type that is not commonly found in the modern western diet.
However, they are a great plant-based source of the nutrient.
With the growing understanding of vitamin D’s importance, many foods are now fortified with it.
These include milk, orange juice and cereals.
They provide a convenient way to increase your vitamin D intake.
Egg yolks are a good source of vitamin D.
One large egg yolk contains about 37 IU of vitamin D, which isn’t very high but can contribute to your daily intake, especially if you eat more than one.
Ricotta cheese is an exception, standing out as one with the highest natural vitamin D content. It boasts 25 IU of the nutrient, making it five times richer in vitamin D compared to most other cheeses.
Cheeses like cheddar and Swiss are among the few types of cheese that contain small amounts of vitamin D.
A rich source of vitamin D, beef liver contains about 42 IU of vitamin D per 3.5 ounces.
However, it’s also high in cholesterol and should be consumed in moderation.
Canned tuna is a convenient and cost-effective source of vitamin D.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving contains up to 269 IU of vitamin D, which is about 35% of the recommended daily intake.
Oysters are a type of shellfish that are not only a great source of vitamin D but also very low in calories.
Six medium oysters can provide up to 67% of the daily value.
Shrimp is another seafood that is a good source of vitamin D.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving provides 152 IU of vitamin D, which is about 19% of the recommended daily intake.
Halibut is a flatfish that’s rich in several nutrients including vitamin D.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of halibut provides about 190 IU of vitamin D.
Fortified Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives
Many non-dairy milk alternatives like almond, soy and oat milk are often fortified with vitamin D, making them a good option for those who are lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy.
Easy Ways to Maintain Your Vitamin D Levels
It’s one thing to know which foods are rich in vitamin D, and quite another to incorporate them into your daily routine.
The secret lies in integrating small, manageable changes into your existing lifestyle.
Make it Obvious
Begin with a visible cue for your new routine.
Place vitamin D-rich foods where you can easily spot them. Put a bottle of cod liver oil on your kitchen counter or a carton of fortified milk at the front of your fridge.
When you see these items regularly, you’ll be prompted to consume them.
Make your new routine enjoyable.
Associate the consumption of vitamin D-rich foods with something you love. You could listen to your favourite podcast while preparing a salmon dish or watch a favourite show while having a mushroom omelette.
By linking the routine with an enjoyable experience, you’ll be more motivated to continue.
Keep it simple.
Choose recipes that are straightforward and quick to prepare, requiring no special ingredients. For instance, a grilled salmon with lemon and herbs can be both tasty and easy to make.
The simpler it is to include vitamin D-rich foods in your meals, the more likely you’ll keep doing it.
Ensure a rewarding experience.
Savour the flavour of your vitamin D-rich meals, enjoy the textures and be aware of the benefits you’re giving your body.
When you find the experience enjoyable, you’ll be more inclined to repeat it.
Keep a record of your efforts with a calendar or a tracking app.
Each time you have a vitamin D-rich food, note it down. This gives a visual representation of your consistency and adds a sense of accomplishment.
In the choices that grace our table, there is an opportunity – not just to satisfy hunger, but to nourish the very essence of our health.
Vitamin D, often understated, plays a pivotal role in the fabric of our well-being.
It’s not about grand gestures, but rather the quiet consistency of small decisions that form the bedrock of our health.
With each plate of salmon, sip of fortified milk or bite of a mushroom omelette, we’re casting a vote for a life more robust and radiant with health.
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