During the winter months when the sun is at its lowest point, it’s hard for most of us to get an adequate amount of vitamin D in our bodies. And the truth is that most people actually have a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is vital for the body’s proper absorption of calcium, bone development, and immune function, among other things. Too little vitamin D can lead to debilitating bone diseases and a weakened immune system. On the other hand, too much vitamin D is no good either, and may lead to an increased risk of heart attack.
The current recommended daily value of vitamin D for children and adults is 600 IU, and since it’s fat-soluble, you need to consume some fat in order for your body to properly absorb it. So besides adding a vitamin D supplement to our diet, what other ways can we increase our vitamin D intake? Below is a list of natural sources of vitamin D (along with their IUs) to help keep our bodies healthy and functioning properly.
- Cod Liver Oil – (1,350 IU in 1 tablespoon) – Many brands of cod liver oil have the vitamin D removed, so be sure to check the label to be sure.
- Fish – (200-900 IU) – The best kinds include salmon, mackerel, and tuna.
- Mushrooms – (27 IU per 100g) – White button and shiitake mushrooms have the highest levels of vitamin D.
- Eggs – (17 IU per egg) – The vitamin D is found in the yolk. Organic, farm-fresh eggs are best!
- Ricotta Cheese – (25 IU per 1/4 cup) – About 5 times as much as most other cheeses.
- Beef Liver – (42 IU per 3oz) – Always look for grass-fed beef.
- Milk, fortified – (127 IU per cup) – Look for organic milk.
- Orange Juice, fortified – (90 IU per cup) – Organic juice with no preservatives or added sugars.
And of course, the best natural source for vitamin D is good old sunshine! So when Spring comes around, and all throughout Summer, try to get outside for at least half an hour a day, a few times a week, without any sunscreen. Our bodies naturally make the best kind of vitamin D all on their own, just by harnessing the sun’s powerful UV rays and converting them into the healthy vitamin D we’re all looking for.
It’s also a good idea to get your vitamin D levels checked by your primary care physician, but before you immediately jump to the supplements, remember there are plenty of natural ways to increase your vitamin D intake, without having to resort to pills that may not be necessary.
What are your favorite ways to increase the vitamin D intake in your diet? Anything that’s not on this list?
About the Author:
Sarah is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mother. She is the author of Nature’s Nurture – a blog about everything simple, natural, and homemade – in which she documents the changes she’s making to slowly convert her home into a more natural, sustainable, toxic-free environment for her family. Nature’s Nurture also serves as a resource for others looking for simple ways to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle. You can follow along at her blog, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.