Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is essential for our overall health. Its primary job is to ensure that there is the right amount of calcium and phosphorous in our blood. These two together make our bones strong. In case we have low levels of vitamin D in our body, calcium and phosphorous that we consume in our diet, will not be absorbed well by our body. Though we can obtain vitamin D from exposure to the sun, this is not enough. Many of us spend our days indoors, and when we go out, we wear sunscreens. We make up for this by adding rich vitamin D foods in our diet. Vitamin D has numerous health benefits.
Health benefits of Vitamin D
- Prevents fractures
- Prevents osteoporosis in elders
- Reduces risk of multiple sclerosis
- Reduces risk of cancer
- Reduces the risk of diabetes
- Protects against heart disease
- Improves lung function
Suggested read: Are you getting enough Vitamin D? Deficiency Signs & Symptoms
Foods high in vitamin D
Children and adults need around 600 to 1000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D every day. Exposure to sunlight can not provide enough of this vitamin. So, it is essential to add some vitamin D rich foods in our diet. Here are some of the foods that are good sources of vitamin D.
Salmon is a favourite fish for many of us and is very high in vitamin D. According to the nutrient databases, 100 grams of salmon contain between 351 to 685 IU of vitamin D. Wild salmon have higher levels of vitamin D as compared to the farmed ones.
Sardines are very high in their vitamin D content. In fact, you don’t even need to have a full serving to get your complete dose of vitamin D for the day. Calcium potassium and iron are some of the other minerals found in sardines.
3. Canned tuna
Canned tuna is popular for its flavor and the convenience with which we can cook it. One 100 grams serving of canned tuna contains almost 236 UI of vitamin D. It is also a rich source of niacin, and vitamin K. Light tuna is better than white tuna when it comes to the risk of health problems related to methylmercury.
Mushrooms are an excellent vegetarian source of vitamin D. Mushrooms are exposed to the suns rays while growing, and this increases the vitamin D content in them. Different varieties of mushrooms have different levels of vitamin D in them.
Button mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D. Farmed mushrooms that are exposed to UV light are a good source of this vitamin as compared to those that we grow in the dark.
5. Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil has been used as a supplement for many years to treat deficiencies in children. If you do not like fish, taking cod live oil supplement is the answer for you. A spoonful or a capsule of cod liver oil is one of the easiest ways to add vitamin D to your diet.
One teaspoon of cod liver oil will give you 450 UI of vitamin D. This oil also contains Omega 3 fatty acids that promote bone health and help prevent osteoporosis.
6. Fortified tofu
Soy products like fortified tofu are rich in calcium and vitamin D. A 100 gram serving of tofu can provide you 39 percent of your daily requirement of this vitamin. Fortified tofu is also an excellent source of proteins. You can add it to noodles or stir-fry it.
7. Whole milk
Packaged cow’s milk is fortified with vitamin D. It usually contains about 130 IU per cup, and this is around 20 percent of your daily requirement.
One serving of 100 grams of oysters contains an impressive 320 IU of vitamin D. These saltwater clams also contain Omega3 fatty acids. Oysters are also a good source of proteins, iron, and magnesium.
Whole milk ricotta cheese contains almost 12 IU of vitamin D in a half cup serving. A slice of Swiss cheese can provide 6 IU of vitamin D. Add these different varieties of cheese into your diet for better bone health.
One large egg can provide you almost 7 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin D. Some chickens are given vitamin D enriched feed. The eggs sourced from them have a higher concentration of vitamin D. Eggs are rich in other nutrients like vitamin E, A, K, iron, and zinc.
Shrimp are high in vitamin D and low in fat. They contain 152 IU of this vitamin per serving. Shrimp also contains 152 mg of dietary cholesterol per serving, but that does not have any effect on the blood cholesterol levels. Shrimps are also an excellent source of protein, vitamin B12, and vitamin E.
Caviar (fish eggs) has numerous health benefits. One serving of caviar contains 19 IU of vitamin D. Caviar is also rich in multiple vitamins, minerals, and essential fats.
13. Soy milk
Soy milk is fortified with vitamin D as vegetarian are at a higher risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency. One cup of soy milk contains between 99 to 119 IU of vitamin D which can make up for 30 percent of your daily requirement.
14. Orange juice
For vegetarians that are lactose intolerant, orange juice is an excellent option to cater for their vitamin D requirements. One cup of fortified orange juice contains 142 IU of vitamin D. So, start your day with a healthy glass of orange juice.
These days even cereals come fortified with vitamin D. One cup of cereal can provide up to 30 percent of your daily requirement.
Butter also contains vitamin D. One stick of butter provides 9 IU of vitamin D. Butter is high in saturated fats, but these are required by the body to absorb antioxidants and vitamin D.
Most of us are unable to get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone. So, we must have vitamin D foods in our diet plan to compensate for this. Seafood is an excellent source of this vitamin. However, if you are a vegetarian, you must opt for fortified foods to add vitamin D to your diet.