Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin needed by the body to absorb calcium. If the body doesn’t have enough vitamin D in it’s system, the body will take calcium from the storage places in the body and use it. Using the calcium from the storage areas causes weakness in the bones and prevents new bone growth. This increases the risk of falls and fractures of the bones.
Vitamin D can help you lose weight, improve fatigue, prevent osteomalacia and decrease the risk of developing Rickets in children, among other claims. Vitamin D is also paired with calcium to help protect older adults from osteoporosis. New guidelines, released by the Institute of Medicine, recommend increasing the daily amount of vitamin D to 600 I.U. for people ages 1-70 and 800 I.U. for people over 70 years old.
Although there are vitamin D diet supplements available, the best way to get the necessary amount of vitamin D is in your diet, although it is not the easiest way. There are few foods that have vitamin D in them. Eating the following foods will help you increase the vitamin D in your diet:
Out of all the fish that are rich in vitamin D, cod is the richest. Other fish that have adequate amounts of vitamin D are salmon, sardines, tuna, eel and catfish. Fatty fish are the best fish to eat if you need to increase your vitamin D intake.
Cod liver oil is the recommended “fish oil” of choice. Cod liver oil has been known to have the highest amount of vitamin D out of all the fish oils.
There is some amount of vitamin D in beef liver, but other than that beef or organ meat, chicken, pork or turkey, etc, are not a good source of vitamin D.
There is a good amount of vitamin D in shrimp, oysters and cooked eel. Do not eat any of these foods if you are allergic to seafood.
Mushrooms, grown in the sunlight or exposed to sunlight, will provide you with 100 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin D. Sun Beela mushrooms have 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin D per serving. Mushrooms are the only food, fortified by vitamin D, that are a natural source on a vegan diet.
Fortified foods are foods that have vitamin D added to them. Vitamin D milk is probably the most used vitamin D fortified food. You can also use soy milk and almond milk. Other foods that are fortified with vitamin D are orange juice, puddings, gravy’s and sauces. Remember that you can use any of these foods in recipes and they still count toward your daily allowance of vitamin D.
There are also cereals that are fortified with vitamin D. Raisin Bran, Apple Jacks and Cheerios are just a few of the cereals available with vitamin D. Check the labels on the cereal box to find out if a cereal is fortified with vitamin D.
The sun can provide 100 percent of the vitamin D that your body needs every day! Going outside between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (when the day is at its hottest) on a sunny day, without sunscreen, will provide all of the recommended vitamin D for that day, as long as you spend a certain amount of time in the sun.
The time needed to get all of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is approximately 10-30 minutes, depending on your skin tone and age. If you are light skinned, you need to stay in the sun for 10-15 minutes. If you are dark skinned, you need about 20 minutes of sun, and if you are elderly, you need 30 minutes in the sun.
Vitamin D benefits are becoming more well known through research. So far, research has shown vitamin D to be effective in the treatment of many diseases and disorders, including, colon cancer, reduce risk of heart disease, decrease fibromyalgia symptoms, treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, just to name a few.
For a complete list of foods fortified with vitamin D, go to the Nutrient Database for Vitamins.