Foods with Vitamin D and the Five Main Health Benefits
Vitamin D is often overlooked, but it is very important to your health. It is beneficial for many things like immunity and brain function. The problem is that there are very limited foods that contain vitamin D and many are at risk for deficiency. Many are not getting enough of this essential vitamin and that can have a negative effect on your health. The main thing is to become aware of foods that are rich in Vitamin D and add them to your regular diet. This will reduce the chances of a deficiency and help you optimize your health.
Vitamin D and it’s Role in the Body
Your body makes vitamin D in response to exposure to the sun. It is a fat-soluble vitamin which has a primary role in your health. It can also act more as a steroid than a vitamin and it is involved in just about every aspect. Once you consume it, there is a two-step process that takes place in order to convert it to an active form. First, the liver makes it into a storage form. Secondly, the kidneys convert it to its active form. Then the communication with the cells starts and together they control lots of functions like boosting immunity and absorbing calcium.
When the skin is exposed to direct sun, UVB rays provide energy that helps the skin produce vitamin D. Just to meet the body’s need of this vitamin, it is suggested that you spend five to 30 minutes twice a week outside in the sunshine. For most people this will meet their needs, but it can vary due to factors like skin color, body weight and age.
Not getting enough of it can bring some serious consequences with it. There are not a lot of foods that contain the D vitamin, and a rough estimate is that about 43% of the people in the US are deficient. Many people are not able to spend time in direct sunlight or have a limited amount of sun period. There are some foods that contain vitamin D. Consuming them can help prevent a deficiency.
12 Best Food Sources of Vitamin D
Food sources provide two forms of vitamin D. D3 is in animal based foods like fish, D2 is in mushrooms. Most supplements or multivitamins provide D3. You can prevent deficiency by increasing foods that contain it. Adults need about 800 IU of vitamin D each day while adults aged 1 to 70 needs 600 IUs daily. Babies less than a year old need a minimum of 400 IU every day. Here are a few of the foods you can consume to make sure you are getting enough.
- Sunlight: 5-30 minutes two times a week =100% of the vitamin.
- Cod Liver Oil: 1 TBL contains 1369 IU
- Wild caught Salmon: 3 ounces has 447 IU
- Mackerel: 3 ounces contains 306 IU
- Tuna fish: 3ounces provides 154 IU
- Fortified Milk: 8 ounces contains 124 IU
- Sardines: 2 sardines provide 47 IU
- Beef Liver: 3 ounces contains 42 IU
- Eggs: 1 egg has 41 IU
- Fortified cereals: 1 cup contains 40 IU
- Caviar: 1 TBL has 37 IU
- Mushrooms: 1 cup contains 2 IU
Benefit of Eating Foods with Vitamin D
There are five primary benefits that are the result of eating Vitamin D rich foods.
- Helps Manage Weight
Belly fat is sometimes the result of a lack of this nutrient, especially for those who follow a strict diet and workout regimen. Eating foods with more vitamin D may help fight obesity and help with losing those extra unwanted pounds. In one study, women who met the required amounts of s with the nutrient lost on average, seven pounds more than those who did not. However, it is not clear how a deficiency might affect weight loss or obesity.
- Improves Brain Health
Vitamin D is good for the body and the brain. Some studies have looked at the connection between a deficiency and an increased risk of conditions such as schizophrena as well as its influence on depression, insomnia, and anxiety. Getting enough of this important nutrient may help with performance on tests, improve focus and decision making capabilities.
- Prevent Cancer from Forming
It’s commonly understood that what you eat influences the risk of chronic conditions like cancer, but vitamin D may have a more direct impact. Some limited research is starting to discover that a deficiency may be linked to the development of some types of cancer prostate, colon and breast cancers specifically. Getting enough might help protect individuals from developing cancer to begin with.
- Bone Strength
D vitamin is best known for helping improve bone density which can help prevent osteoporosis. A lack of this nutrient has been linked to increased risks of developing osteoporosis, but can also lead to a higher risk of one fractures especially in older adults. Exposure to the sun and eating vitamin D rich foods can help with bone health.
- Boosting Immunity
Cell replication is believed to help fight the development of infections and autoimmune conditions. Having problems with immunity can mean difficulty fighting off the common cold. But the nutrient may also help prevent chronic inflammation which is often the root cause of many chronic conditions. Some studies have revealed inflammation may be playing a larger role in the development of cancer, diabetes and heart disease as well as many other conditions including inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of a Vitamin D Deficiency
How do you know if you are not getting enough vitamin D? A deficiency can have numerous negative side effects. Here are a few of the most common symptoms:
- General weakness
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- Broken bones
- Weak immune system
- Swelling or inflammation
How to Get More Vitamin D
The best option for getting enough vitamin D is getting regular exposure to direct sunlight. You can also consume more foods with the nutrient to help maintain adequate amounts for the body. Simply add one or two servings of food each day and try to include a variety of foods so you get beneficial micronutrients as well. If you don’t eat fish, it can be more difficult, but remember it is naturally found in eggs and mushrooms as well as foods fortified with it. You may also consider taking it in the form of a supplement or vitamin.
It is possible to get too much vitamin D, especially if you are taking it in supplement form. Taking too many supplements can cause several symptoms including weakness, frequent urination, vomiting and nausea. Sunlight and fortified foods are basically your safest sources, but if you take supplements be sure to take only the recommended dosage to avoid negative side effects.