Winter is in full swing and people have already been experiencing grey, short days for a while. One of the keys to staying happy and healthy during the winter months is getting sufficient amounts of foods high in Vitamin D, especially when the weather turns bad.
As stated by a study published in a study by The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine,
“Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in bone metabolism and seems to have some anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating properties.”
Vitamin D benefits are easily obtained through foods and supplements, and it is imperative that you focus on your intake of this vitamin during the winter!
According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
“Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and foods that are fortified with vitamin D are often inadequate to satisfy either a child’s or an adult’s vitamin D requirement. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children and will precipitate and exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures in adults. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of common cancers, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, and infectious diseases.”
Vitamin D deficiency is a growing concern throughout the entire world, and it is necessary that you understand how to find enough quality sources to maintain all Vitamin D benefits.
Vitamin D – The “Sunshine Vitamin”
Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is an essential nutrient for almost all bodily functions. This key vitamin has not only been shown to increase immune system health and improve and prevent depression, but has also been extensively studied for its ability to prevent degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, and diabetes.
We need adequate Vitamin D to survive, and thrive.
Unfortunately, Vitamin D deficiency is quite common due to factors such as inadequate sun exposure, and not enough rich Vitamin D foods in the diet. Training outdoors can drastically help Vitamin D absorption, but even that won’t be enough on its own.
Vitamin D comes in two main forms; D2, and D3.
In the case of both foods and supplementation, D3 is the biologically active form of the vitamin which can best absorbed and used by the body best. Vitamin D3 is cheap and easily obtained online and is generally good to take through the winter months when the sun is less powerful, and you are not outside as much.
Although you can take pure Vitamin D as a supplement (such as the one above), there are even more complete supplement options as well!
As I will speak more about below, Cod Liver Oil is my favorite supplement to take to ensure I am getting enough Vitamin D per day. Normally I will take this supplement year round, for both the Vitamin D, as well as the essential fatty acids!
The professional basketball team I played for in Belgium was even providing us with Vitamin D supplements for the winter months since there is little sunshine.
Vitamin D Functions in the Body
Vitamin D enters the blood stream to the liver, where it is converted in to the prohormone calcidiol.
Since it is so necessary to have Vitamin D in our body, finding out which are the best foods high in Vitamin D is extremely important!
The daily need of Vitamin D for an adult is 2000 IU. In order to fulfill this demand, you most likely need a supplement and exposure to sunlight to ensure the amount you are getting each day.
Foods High in Vitamin D
According to the modern researches it can be concluded that only a farmer, lifeguard, or regular sunbather is able to get intake sufficient amounts of Vitamin D from the sun.
The remaining people who do not fall into this category should be consistently focused on obtaining Vitamin D from food sources.
We need high-quality food which has content to fulfill our demand, so being aware and choosing foods that are loaded with Vitamin D many times per week is wise! By eating these foods, we can keep our body in balance and maintain our overall health more easily!
Shiitake & Button Mushrooms:
Mushrooms are a rich source of food that contains Vitamin D. Mushrooms are high in many different vitamins and minerals, and aptly absorb Vitamin D from the sun. Consistently eating these mushrooms will build stores of Vitamin D in your body.
Milk and its derivatives are the some of the best foods that contain vitamin D, and are the best option for young children.
As I have written about before, I vastly prefer goat milk compared to cow milk.
There are far more benefits to switching to goats milk, and you will absorb all nutrients much more easily to your body after making the move away from cow’s milk! Derivatives of milk includes yogurt, butter, and cheese; and are all excellent foods that contain Vitamin D.
More Information: Goat Milk vs Cow Milk
Along with being rich in healthy fats (fish oil), herring contains some of the highest amounts of Vitamin D of any food. Herring is one of the few foods which contain loaded amounts of Vitamin D!
Sardines are another food which is filled with Vitamin D, and one small tin can provide 70% of your daily requirement! These are also rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, making them a wonderful health food overall.
Eggs are also rich foods that contain vitamin D. One egg will provide you 10% of your daily requirement. The yolk of the egg is in fact the part of the egg that contains Vitamin D, which is one of the many reasons I advise people to eat whole egg instead of just egg whites.
As stated by a study published in Advances in Nutrition,
“The vitamin D content in eggs is practically all in the yolk. Based on the whole egg, the content varies between 14.4 and 29.3 μg/kg and between 32.5 and 55.8 μg/kg for egg yolks.”
Eating three eggs for breakfast is an excellent way to jump-start your daily Vitamin D intake.
As noted with sardines and herring, salmon, tuna, and other fatty fish are all good sources of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning it needs a certain amount of fat to absorb in to. This is one reason why fruits and vegetables are generally lacking in this nutrient compared to others.
Fish oil supplements are great, but they still don’t compete with the effectiveness of eating good fish!
A four-ounce serving of salmon has a whopping 127% of the daily recommended value. Aim for one four-ounce serving of these fatty fish, about two times per week.
Personally, I have substantially cut back on the amount of meat I eat on a consistent basis. I prefer to stick with plant foods, or fish. Luckily, plant foods and fish combine for nearly every necessary nutrient I need!
Vitamin D is often added to milk, orange juice, cereal, and bread. An eight-ounce serving of milk provides about 16% of your daily Vitamin D needs, and the same amount of orange juice has about 17%. Luckily, Vitamin D is supplemented efficiently; and you can find adequate amounts of Vitamin D through sources other than whole foods.
Kale (in Form of Fortified Drink):
Kale is a nutritional superfood, but as with many other fruits and vegetables it only contains trace amounts of Vitamin D. Nevertheless, it should be included in any healthy diet to help reach the daily recommended quantities of all vital nutrients.
Often, kale drinks are further fortified with Vitamin D, since they already contain so many nutrients. You may be able to obtain vitamin D from fortified kale drinks sold in stores, such as vegetable juices. Avoid the drinks with too much artificial sugar, and you will be on your way to intaking all of your Vitamin D needs!
See Also: Kale and Spinach Benefits
It may not be the most appealing food, but beef liver is still an excellent source of Vitamin D. Just a 3.5oz serving has 50 IUs of Vitamin D, along with many other nutrients such as protein, and iron. However, it is high in cholesterol, so be cautious about the uantity you consume!
If you are going to eat beef, I would suggest you eat the liver the most. There are more nutrients than in other parts, and fits better with a well-rounded diet!
Cod Liver Oil:
Fish liver oil is possibly the best source of Vitamin D benefits of any food. It probably sounds like a disturbing food to eat, but luckily you can take this in supplement form much more easily!
Taking a supplement such as Cod Liver Oil is inexpensive and packed with benefits including Omega-3 fatty acids, and high levels of soluble Vitamin D. Give it a try!
Concluding Thoughts – The Most Important Foods High in Vitamin D
When you aren’t in the sunshine often, it is more important than ever to find foods high in Vitamin D for your diet. There are many different foods to choose from to intake all of the Vitamin D benefits, you just need to know what you are looking for!
My personal favorite is to start the day with eggs, and then work from there. Normally, 5 eggs is a solid breakfast for me. This gets me near 50% of my daily needs, and I can cruise to my necessary levels throughout the day.
Along with this, I will consistently take Fish Oil or Cod Liver Oil pills as well, helping to maximize the Vitamin D benefits of obtaining the proper amounts, as well as the other benefits of these pills!
These rich foods high in Vitamin D can help you reach your recommended daily amounts of this vital nutrient throughout the whole year!