Are you getting enough vitamin D? This important nutrient is more vital than ever during this double flu season, so I’m exploring 7 ways to boost our vitamin D levels (with lots of yummy recipe suggestions, of course.)
Vitamin D (the ‘sunshine’ vitamin)
Research confirms that vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, but also may help fight many diseases like cancer, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D also promotes healthy immune, brain and nervous systems.
Can Vitamin D help you fight COVID-19?
Vitamin D is an important nutrient that’s in the news right now because research shows it plays a vital role in helping us fight off viruses and bacteria. And it’s one of the most common of all the vitamin deficiencies, so it pays to pay attention to your D levels now more than ever.
There is some evidence that healthy blood levels of vitamin D may give a survival advantage to people with COVID-19. Several studies have shown that COVID-19 patients who are deficient in vitamin D are more likely to experience serious illness. Further research is needed to determine what role, if any, vitamin D and vitamin D deficiency might play in the prevention of and treatment of COVID-19.
Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
According to The Cleveland Clinic, here’s what to watch for…
- Bone pain
- Muscle weakness, muscle aches, or muscle cramps
- Mood changes, like depression
7 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR VITAMIN D
I’m listing the 7 main ways you can get more of this important nutrient into your body. Very few foods are natural sources of Vitamin D, so you need to be aware of the whole picture, there’s no one magic bullet. Be sure to read right through to #7!
Certain types of fish are by far the biggest sources of vitamin D available to us in our food. I’ve been an advocate of eating more fish for a long time, so I have many examples of delicious ways to incorporate more fish into your diet here on the blog. Salmon is one of my faves 🙂
- Salmon, tuna, cod, mackerel, trout, and sardines are all good sources. According to the USDA a small 3.5 ounce portion of salmon will give you 66% of your daily need for Vitamin D. But interestingly ~ wild caught salmon supplies even more, up to 124% of what you need each day, so it pays to go for the wild.
- Does canned fish count? Surprisingly, according to healthcare.gov, canned salmon contains the most vitamin D of all!
- Don’t forget cod liver oil ~ this is a naturally concentrated form of vitamin D. 1 teaspoon daily provides the recommended daily dose of D for adults. Don’t worry, it comes in pill form, too.
Wild mushrooms are packed with flavor and easy to incorporate into your diet. They’re also readily available in dried form, look for the little packets in your supermarket and experiment with different varieties. This is especially important for vegans who want to boost vitamin D naturally.
- Wild mushrooms provide vitamin D, but commercially grown types do not, unless they’ve been treated with UV light in the growing process.
- Wild mushrooms actually synthesize vitamin D from sunlight, just like humans do.
- My mushroom risotto, below, is made with wild and cultivated mushrooms. You can add wild mushrooms to pasta and soup, and because they’re most often sold dried, you can keep them in the pantry indefinitely.
Commercially raised eggs are not exceptionally high in Vitamin D, however some other varieties are:
- Pasture raised chickens (chickens that have been allowed to roam and feed outside) lay eggs that are considerably higher in vitamin D.
- Some chickens are fed feed that has been enriched with Vitamin D, and they can be a great source of the vitamin in your diet. Read those labels, and keep in mind that your daily requirement is about 600 units of D.
- I love eggs dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Make quiches and frittatas part of your regular rotation, and deviled eggs can be delicious snacks.
Surprisingly, pork! Who knew?
- Spare ribs and pork chops are the cuts with the highest vitamin D levels.
- The Instant Pot can cook those chops to perfection while you make a vitamin D rich mushroom sauce on the stove!
#5 fortified foods
Foods like milk, cereal, yogurt, tofu, and cheese, often have vitamin D added to them. While they aren’t natural sources of the vitamin, they’re still healthy ways to get your minimum daily requirement. More and more foods are being fortified this way, so check your labels.
- Having fortified oatmeal with fortified milk in the morning is a great way to get a dose of D.
- Smoothies made with fortified yogurt are another good idea.
- Rice pudding or classic butterscotch pudding are nutritious desserts made with fortified milk.
- Our bodies can produce our own Vitamin D when sunlight hits our skin (without sunscreen,) which triggers vitamin D production.
- Just 20 minutes of sun exposure is all you need to get your daily dose of D.
- But many factors can affect sunlight exposure, including where you live, and seasonal changes. Many of us have been indoors more than usual this year due to Coronavirus.
- The American Academy of Dermatologists doesn’t recommend this method of getting your daily vitamin D because of the risks associated with unprotected sun exposure
Before you take supplements it’s best to see your doctor and have your levels tested. A blood test is the only way to know what your levels of vitamin D are.
- Vitamin D deficiency is common (up to 42% of us!) but the symptoms can be subtle so you may not know you’re at risk.
- Vitamin D supplements are generally considered safe (Dr Fauci himself takes vitamin D supplements as a precaution) but only your doctor can tell which one is right for you.
- Once you know your correct dose, you can purchase it over the counter in any drug store, or online.
- It is possible to get too much vitamin D (through supplements) and there can be drug interactions, so seeing a doctor first is smartest.