A tan isn’t the only thing we’re desperately missing right about now—our vitamin D levels this winter have gone MIA and we’re aiming to turn that around stat.
Vitamin D is essential for both bone and muscle health, yet it’s extremely limited during the cold, dark winter months, making it hard for our bodies to get the amount it needs to thrive.
Aside from these attributes, getting sufficient vitamin D has several other health benefits like the prevention of chronic diseases, the regulation of cellular growth and cell activity, overall reduction of systemic redness and swelling, and better skeletal health.
Our bodies are made to produce all the vitamin D they need from the sun’s ultraviolet B rays using only 10 to 20 minutes of sunlight during peak daytime hours. But when a ray of sunshine is few and far between during the wintertime, it’s obvious why we might need an extra boost to get us over the hump and safely into sunny springtime.
Dietary guidelines recommend healthy adults get at least 600 IU of vitamin D every day, so stock up on these items to get you safely into sweet, sweet summertime.
At 100 IU per ounce, fatty fish like salmon, herring and mackerel contain more naturally occurring vitamin D than any other foods. A three-ounce sockeye salmon fillet contains about 450 IUs of vitamin D, which easily gets you close to your recommended daily dose of 600.
Sardines are an excellent source of vitamin D, as one small can will provide your body with almost 70 percent of your daily vitamin D needs. Though not a favorite for many people, if you can learn to love sardines you’ll also be getting increased vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
The yolks in eggs have about seven percent of your daily vitamin D needs, and the fat in the yolk helps aid in absorption of the vitamin. Dietary guidelines now advise to eat a couple of eggs per day for a healthy dose of D and other vital nutrients.
Mushrooms contain useful amounts of vitamin D and can be easily tossed into omelettes or salads or served as a side dish with your protein. The dried versions of shiitake mushrooms are high in vitamin D due to their propensity for sucking up sunlight. There are also special Portobello mushrooms you can find that have been specifically exposed to sunlight when growing.
Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil isn’t for the faint of heart, as it has a powerful aroma many people can't stomach. However, if you’re brave enough, using this golden oil can greatly benefit your body with its high vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid levels. It can promote strong bones, fight osteoporosis and even improve brain function.
More and more breakfast cereals are being fortified with vitamin D and a variety of other vitamins and minerals for optimal health. Pouring a big bowl in the mornings is a super easy way to meet your daily dose; specific examples of fortified cereals include Raisin Bran and All Bran, Cheerios, Kashi Go Lean, Total Raisin Bran, Life and Shredded Wheat.
When in doubt, pop a vitamin D3 supplement, which generally gives between 500 and 2000 IU. However, too much D can be toxic; that’s why the limit is set at 4,000 IUS for people aged 9 and older, so make sure to talk to your doctor before starting any supplements.