Who loves the sun? Well, Vitamin D sure does. Apart from being vital for a variety of functions such as bone density, immunity, proper calcium metabolism and a healthy muscle and nerve activity, this fat-soluble Vitamin has a soft spot for UV rays. In fact, Vitamin D is activated once those UV rays touch our skin.
However, barring the risk of developing skin cancer, chronic exposure to sunlight might do more harm than good. At the same time, though, avoiding sunlight may lead to Vitamin D deficiency which is known to pose serious health risks including osteoporosis, depression and high blood pressure among others. Your best shot at preventing such conditions and getting enough Vitamin D is to tweak your diet. From fatty fish to egg yolks, here are 6 foods high in Vitamin D to ensure adequate daily intake.
What Does Vitamin D Do To Your Body?
Before we let the countdown begin, let’s find out why Vitamin D needs to make it into everyone’s diet.
Promotes Calcium Absorption
The truth is that Vitamin D performs several functions once inside your body. But, perhaps the most vital of them all revolves around proper calcium and phosphorus absorption. In fact, research proves that Vitamin D helps your body maintain a healthy calcium metabolism by enabling your bones to mineralize sufficiently. Meaning; your bones and teeth alike get stronger. Children are in desperate need of foods high in Vitamin D to promote their bone health and development and prevent rickets.
On the other hand, Vitamin D deficiency results in reduced absorption of calcium. In its turn, calcium deficiency leads to conditions such as osteoporosis (fragile bones) or osteomalacia (soft bones).
Reduces High Blood Pressure
Apart from strengthening your bones and teeth, Vitamin D can also benefit high blood pressure incidence. According to one study, sufficient Vitamin D levels have a moderate effect in lowering high blood pressure. Even though further research is necessary, the results of this study indicate that Vitamin D has the potential of alleviating patients with high blood pressure.
Being that Vitamin D is mostly considered a prohormone rather than an actual Vitamin, experts are eager to research its hormonal effects on brain’s chemical imbalances that lead to conditions such as depression. According to one recent study, getting enough Vitamin D has a potent antidepressant-like effect, especially on females with low estrogen levels. Goodbye, depression!
Thankfully for us, our immune system is designed to protect us against harmful organisms that roam anywhere from the air we breath to the surfaces we touch. To shield us efficiently, our body uses various substances, commonly known as nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc. So, if one of these nutrients is absent, our bodies are quite susceptible to diseases which can either come from environmental factors or our body itself (autoimmune disorders).
According to research, Vitamin D plays a vital role in our body’s defense as Vitamin D deficiency is linked to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, diabetes, arthritis and inflammation among others. As a result, getting enough Vitamin D through your diet is essential for boosting your immunity.
6 Natural Foods High In Vitamin D
Now that you know how Vitamin D benefits your body let’s take a look at which foods can do the trick.
Cod Liver Oil
Even though the name doesn’t intrigue to take that first bite, cod liver oil is a rich source of Vitamin D. Considering most people don’t get enough sun exposure due to the modern indoor lifestyle, cod liver oil is a great natural way to reach the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D.
Along with its high content of Vitamin A and Omega-3 fatty acids, this superfood works synergetically to battle conditions like high cholesterol and triglycerides, diabetes, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases. And you don’t have to worry about the nasty flavor. These days cod liver oil comes in capsule forms which are often infused with mint and citrus flavor.
Like humans, research proves that mushrooms can produce Vitamin D when exposed to UV rays. However, since most of them are grown in the dark, they don’t contain the vitamin. Luckily, Portobello mushrooms are the exception to this rule. Ideal for a plant-based diet, this mushroom variety is also a rich source of fiber helping you deal with digestive irregularities such as constipation and indigestion.
Whether smoked or pickled, research proves that herring is a food high in Vitamin D that makes a pleasing addition to your diet. At the same time, this food is also low in mercury making it one of the safest and most nutritious fish out there. While getting enough Vitamin D is the most significant perk of eating herring, you also get to load your body with hearty Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin B-12 which promote the health of your red blood cells.
Well, here is a tasty alternative source of Vitamin D for those who don’t like fish. Even though protein is found mainly in the egg white, Vitamin D, as well as other nutrients, reside in egg yolks. However, research indicates that eggs from free-range chickens contain up to four times more Vitamin D than regular eggs do. That occurs because free-range chickens are exposed to sunlight more than farm-raised chickens do. The choice is up to you.
Whether you are a sushi buff, a simple tartare enthusiast or you have never tasted salmon, you’ve probably heard at some point that this fish is a nutrient-dense powerhouse. One study proves that salmon is a food high in Vitamin D and, therefore, boosts your bone health among others. At the same time, a Harvard study confirms that wild salmon contains more Vitamin D than the farmed variety. So, once again, you are the one to call the shots.
For those of you who love a good morning crunch as much as the next guy, fortified cereal is here to save the day while loads of Vitamin D do their thing as well. This option is ideal for those who don’t fancy fish that much but still want to take in a decent percentage of Vitamin D through their diet.
While sunlight is the most efficient way to stock up on your daily dose of Vitamin D, sun exposure is hard to measure and can have some dangerous side effects. Luckily, these 6 foods high in Vitamin D are more than enough to keep up with your daily needs and, at the same time, safely. Ready to start munching?