Vitamin D, more commonly known as “the sunshine vitamin” is beneficial for your health, bones, and immune system. Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies produce it in response to sunlight. But did you know that over 41% of people living in the United States are Vitamin D deficient?
With the change of seasons, getting enough Vitamin D in your diet is crucial. Mid-winter fatigue can make the smallest daily tasks seem challenging. This is often a result of spending more time indoors due to the change in weather. This year, combat your seasonal slump with these helpful tips and tricks!
Why is Vitamin D Beneficial?
Vitamin D is a big deal – are you getting all the vitamin D you really need? Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for your health. The best way for you to get vitamin D is spend time outdoors. However, with the onset of cold weather and increasingly longer nights, it is very important to get sufficient levels of vitamin D from your diet.
- Bone Health
Strong bones depend on many things, including vitamin D. You probably already know that calcium is essential for developing and maintaining bone health, but vitamin D is needed to stimulate movements of molecules like calcium and phosphorus. As well, vitamin D is needed to absorb both calcium and phosphorus efficiently!
- Healthy Immune Function
Your immune system helps to fight all sorts of unwanted quests in your body. Most of us believe that vitamin C helps to ward of colds and the flue, but vitamin D is just as important for supporting your immune health.
- Boost Your Mood
If vitamin D is nicknamed the sunshine vitamin, it stands to reason that one too many dreary days filled with cloudy skies could affect your natural vitamin D intake. Vitamin D is essential for boosting your mood. Vitamin D can affect the function of our two “happiness” neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.
- Improve Gut Health
Vitamin D supports the health of your gut microbiome. If you are experiencing abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation, boosting your vitamin D levels may help to alleviate your symptoms!
5 Best Food Sources of Vitamin D
While sunlight is the best natural source of vitamin D, the reality is that the majority of us are not spending enough time in the sun. This is especially true during the winter months. So, while exposure to sunlight is the top natural source of vitamin D, adding these foods to your diet is going to ensure you aren’t slipping into deficient levels.
- Wild-Caught Salmon
One of the best sources of naturally occurring vitamin D is from fatty fish. Salmon is a great choice, and it is especially important to consumer wild salmon compared to farmed. Wild salmon contains much higher levels of natural vitamin D over farmed salmon.
- Raw Oysters
This may not be the most appealing food to some, but raw oysters are low in calories and high in nutrients. In addition to be a great source of natural vitamin D, oysters contain vitamin B12, copper, phosphorous, and zinc.
Portobello, morrel, button, white and shiitake mushrooms all contain ergosterol, a vitamin D precursor. Did you also know that setting your mushrooms out in the sun can boost their vitamin D content? The UV rays help to trigger photosynthesis, and increases the vitamin D levels, like how it does with humans too! Mushrooms make an incredible source of vitamin D if you are vegetarian or vegan.
- Sunflower Sprouts
These nutritious greens contain easily-digested chlorophyll, minerals, and natural sources of vitamin D. Sunflower sprouts also offer all the amino acids needed to form a complete plant protein. This mega-healthy food is a great source for vitamin D if you are vegetarian or vegan.
- Chia Seeds
Chia seeds contain large amounts of fiber and omega 3, but did you know that they are also a great source of vitamin D? These tiny seeds pack such a nutritional punch and you should include them if your diet. You can soak, grind or enjoy these seeds whole for a nutritious and delicious boost!
Enjoy the Sun and Your Good Health!
Exposure to natural sunlight is the major source of vitamin D for children and adults. Getting a healthy dose of 10-15 minutes of sun provides the body with ideal levels of vitamin D. However, this isn’t true in the spring and fall when the sun is lower in the sky, let alone in winter months. It is almost impossible for your body to produce its own vitamin D from the sun if you live in colder climates, putting you at risk for vitamin D deficiency. When you cannot spend time in the sun, natural food sources of vitamin D are needed to keep you looking and feeling your best!