Vitamin D: eating your way to a healthier you

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that we all need to stay healthy. The simplest way to get it is through…
Vitamin D: eating your way to a healthier you
Foto: Flickr, Photo by stu_spivack via CCL

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that we all need to stay healthy. The simplest way to get it is through sunshine, but that, obviously, has its own drawbacks, such as the very real issue of skin cancer, and the damage it can do to your skin through its aging effects. So what is the best way to get sources of this valuable vitamin without the drawbacks? The answer is through a variety of nutrient rich foods, many of which you might already be eating. Knowing which foods supply the most of this particular vitamin will help you find a way to easily incorporate it into your diet.

Fish and crustaceans are a great source of vitamin D. Fish such as mackerel, wild salmon, herring, sardines, catfish, and tuna are just some of the aquatic life that are packed with it. One tin of sardines alone can provide you with approximately 70% of your daily intake needs. They’re also a great source for vitamin B12, selenium, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to provide a wide range of health benefits like lowering blood pressure, decreasing the chance of blood clots, and protecting your heart. So if it smells like fish, it’s your dish.

Both button and shiitake mushrooms are a surprisingly good source of vitamin D. Dried shiitake mushrooms are high in it. This is probably due to the fact that they absorb a lot of sunlight. They’re also rich in vitamins B1 and B2, which is definitely an added benefit. If you’re going to include these mushrooms in your diet for the vitamin D value, though, make sure they’ve been sun dried. Artificial drying methods just won’t cut it here.

Cow’s milk is another excellent source of vitamin D, and you know what they say about it being good building strong bodies and bones. Not only is it readily available, but it’s also a good source of calcium, which is also a much needed mineral in our diet. If you’re lactose intolerant and ordinary cow’s milk is out of the question for you, soy milk is a wonderful alternative which offers a host of additional benefits you’ll likely welcome. If you find the taste of regular soy milks unappealing, Silk’s Very Vanilla Soymilk just may change your mind about the product.

While vitamin D is essential to our immune system and proper bone and organ health, there can be some unwanted side-effects, and it isn’t recommended that you exceed the women’s daily allowance unless you are under the direct care of your physician. Taking more than 5000 IU per day over extended periods of time can cause excessive calcium levels in your blood, which can worsen conditions like atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries, or kidney stones, lymphoma, and hyperparathyroidism.