A vitamin D deficiency is linked to loads of health conditions such as fatigue, bone weakness, diabetes, various heart conditions and depression. Our best source of vitamin D is the sun so in dark, gloomy winter months it can be hard to maintain healthy levels. Fortunately, some foods are packed with vitamin D – include them in your diet for a healthy, happy winter
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which contributes to bone growth and health, reduces inflammation and even helps reduce muscle cramps. Vitamin D also:
- Improves muscle function
- Creates a stronger skeletal system
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves recovery time from training
- Decreases injury occurrence
- Improves brain function
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Vitamin D is found in three sources:
- The sun
- Food sources (naturally in some, added – or ‘fortified’ – in others)
It’s the only nutrient our bodies produce when exposed to sunlight. Sensible sun exposure during summer months gives us all the vitamin D we need, but during winter the sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB (even on bright days) for our skin to be able to make vitamin D. To compound this, we’re all spending more time indoors in an attempt to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Thankfully, by consuming the right food and supplements we can ensure we’re getting enough vitamin D.
The key during winter is to aim for 1,000 IU (International Units) each day.
The sun is a great source of vitamin D
Top 5 vitamin D food and supplements
- Cod liver oil – 1 tbsp = 1,360 IU. By far the best source of vitamin D, a cod liver oil supplement packs your daily quota and are handy if you don’t like eating fish
- Wild salmon – 85g = 570 IU. Wild caught salmon contains four times the vitamin D compared to farmed salmon
- Mushrooms – ½ cup = 366 IU. Mushrooms are the best plant-based source of vitamin D. Wild mushrooms grown in sunlight packs the biggest punch, with some varieties delivering up to 2,000 IU per 100g.
Mushrooms are a fantastic source of vitamin D
- Fortified soy, almond and oat milk – 140 IU. Nearly all plant-based milk alternatives come fortified with vitamin D
- Eggs – 1, scrambled = 44 IU. Free-range eggs contain four times more vitamin D than chickens kept indoors
As you can see, there’s no need to worry about lack of sun exposure during winter, just make sure you’re either taking a cod liver oil supplement or eating the whole foods described above. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, eat more mushrooms and make sure you’re drinking milks fortified with vitamin D.
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