“The sunshine vitamin,” more officially known as Vitamin D, is a critical nutrient for overall bone health. That’s due to its ability to help the body absorb and retain phosphorus and calcium. However, ensuring you’re getting enough Vitamin D does more than support bone health. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, laboratory studies show that vitamin D can help control infections, reduce inflammation, and reduce cancer cell growth.
We most commonly get vitamin D through sunlight and supplements because few foods naturally contain it. But, with winter fast approaching and daylight hours becoming shorter, working vitamin D into your diet is crucial to staying healthy while the sun hibernates. To make your meal planning easier this winter, we’ve compiled the top foods rich in vitamin D to work into your recipes.
The Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D can be produced naturally by your body when you are out in the sun. Ensuring adequate Vitamin D levels with certain foods and supplements in the darker winter is important. Beyond bone and teeth health, maintaining your Vitamin D levels may provide 3 additional benefits:
1. Fighting Disease
Studies have linked low vitamin D levels to increased risk of heart diseases, such as stroke, heart failure, or hypertension. Additional studies, while mixed, have suggested that vitamin D may also reduce the likelihood of severe flu and COVID-19 infections.
2. Regulating Mood
Research has found that many people who suffer from depression also have low levels of vitamin D in their systems. Also, low levels of vitamin D have been connected to postpartum depression.
3. Supporting Weight Loss
A study was completed in which people with obesity received a vitamin D supplement in addition to following a weight loss plan. Compared to the placebo group, who only followed the diet plan, this group lost more weight and fat mass.
The Top 5 Vitamin D Foods
While few foods have naturally high vitamin D content, there are a few base ingredients you can include in your recipes to boost your vitamin D intake.
Additionally, many foods and supplements are fortified with vitamin D to add critical nutrients to foods that don’t naturally have them. Some of the best vitamin D foods include:
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish are the best sources of Vitamin D3, and can easily be worked into your dinner meals with options such as:
Certain mushrooms contain vitamin D2, and some commercially sold mushrooms achieve higher amounts of D2 because of intentional exposure to high levels of UV light. Beyond fortified foods, mushrooms are the only natural non-animal source of vitamin D.
3. Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is naturally exceptionally high in vitamin D and can be added to almost any recipe! One tablespoon of the stuff provides 170% of your daily vitamin D requirement. As an added bonus, a tablespoon of cod liver oil also contains 453% of the daily value of vitamin A.
4. Fortified Foods
Fortified foods contain added vitamins, micronutrients, and minerals necessary for many important bodily functions. Your body can’t make micronutrients, so adding them to your foods can help you get everything you need in your diet. Some commonly fortified foods include:
- Fruit juice
- Breakfast cereals
- Cow’s milk and milk alternatives
5. Egg Yolks
Vitamin D is found in the egg yolk, so it’s essential to use the whole egg to add vitamin D to your meal. Luckily, eggs are found in most breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert recipes, and one yolk provides approximately 40 IUs (international units), or 1 mcg (microgram) of vitamin D.
Adding Vitamin D to Your Meals
While planning your meals around vitamin D can seem daunting, something as simple as adding a tablespoon of cod liver oil to your dinner recipe can boost your vitamin D levels. Plus, many everyday food items such as cow and plant-based milk, certain yogurts, and juices are fortified as standard practice in the United States, allowing you to add or use these ingredients as substitutes to increase vitamin D in your meals.
Get Your Vitamin D Fix at 3Natives
If you’re looking for a fast, healthy lunch or an easy snack, 3Natives uses ingredients rich with vitamin D in many of our menu items. For example, the almond milk in our smoothies and the hard-boiled eggs on our wraps and toasts are a good source of vitamin D. To explore all our healthy breakfast and lunch options, check out our menu and start an online order for your next delicious meal.