Vitamin D is a nutrient that is getting a lot of attention these days. From supporting bone health to helping keep our immune system in fighting shape, this vitamin is essential to our overall health and wellness. Yet, while we all know that we need to focus on our vitamin D intake, we may not be fully aware of how we can accomplish this goal. The good news is that it’s easier than you think to incorporate more vitamin D-rich foods into your diet.
Ahead, we’re sharing all things vitamin D, including which vitamin D-rich foods should make a regular appearance on your plate.
The Importance of Vitamin D
Some key functions of vitamin D in the body include helping the body absorb calcium and phosphorus — two nutrients that play a key role in supporting bone health. Vitamin D has also been shown to help support immune function, mood, and even weight loss efforts.
Yet, even with all of these well-known benefits, more than 40% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient. Luckily, there are many ways to get your daily dose of Vitamin D!
Can You Get Vitamin D From Your Diet?
While most vitamins are obtained strictly through food or supplements, vitamin D is unique in that it can also be made from the sun. In fact, Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because this nutrient is synthesized by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. But, in the cool dark days of winter, sunlight may not be your best option. So, incorporating vitamin D-rich foods into your diet is key.
And just how much Vitamin D do you need? Well, according to the Institute of Medicine, adults require about 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D each day. And eating a vitamin D-rich diet is a simple way to meet this quota!
The Best Food Sources of Vitamin D
While there aren’t an overwhelming amount of vitamin D-rich foods, the ones that are available pack a punch in the nutrition department. Here are some of the best choices for you to include!
Salmon is a nutrient-dense option that’s rich in protein, healthy Omega-3 fats, and of course, vitamin D! In fact, one serving of salmon contains nearly a third of your daily vitamin D needs. Serve it alongside roasted veggies for a satiating dinner, add it to a colorful salad bowl, or add it on top of a crispy and creamy slice of avocado toast!
A staple on our breakfast plates — eggs are a natural source of vitamin D — as long as you eat the yolks. Aside from housing the ever-important vitamin D, the yolks also contain other key nutrients like selenium and iodine.
Make a yummy egg breakfast scramble, slice up some hard-boiled eggs for a snack, or mix them with avocado and Greek yogurt for a protein-packed egg salad sandwich.
RELATED: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Avoid The Egg Yolk
Mushrooms are the only source of vitamin D that you will find in the produce aisle. And while all mushrooms contain some vitamin D, some varieties contain even more when farmers expose the crop to special lighting that contains ultraviolet rays — resulting in the veggies synthesizing vitamin D just like we do when we are exposed to UV light. All the more reason to shop local and get to know your farmers!
Add them to your favorite pasta dish, chop them up in a stir fry, or enjoy them sauteed along with a serving of protein and veggies.
Fortified Orange Juice
While oranges aren’t a source of vitamin D, opting for a fortified version can get you 15% of your daily Vitamin D value per every 8-ounce glass you enjoy. This goes for other store-bought milk (like whole milk or almond milk) and juices, too. Even some tofu and cereal brands are fortified with Vitamin D! But remember — always read the ingredients to make the healthiest choice. Avoid added ingredients like artificial flavorings, excess sugar, and refined oils.
Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that sardines are a powerhouse when it comes to vitamin D. Eat them on your salad, enjoy them with crackers, or simply nosh on them on their own. However you choose to enjoy them, sardines are a vitamin D-packed food that can make a great addition to a healthy diet.
Vitamin D For Your Health and Wellness
Focusing on your vitamin D intake is a very important part of supporting your overall wellness. If you don’t get enough exposure to sunlight, including some vitamin D-rich foods in your diet can have a profound impact on your health. So, toss some mushrooms in your salad and enjoy a piece of salmon for dinner. Your bones, immune health, and mood will thank you for it.