Vitamin D is one of the most vital nutrients for our health as it helps our bones absorb calcium. It is especially important for adults to protect against osteoporosis, and for children to build and develop strong bones. Too little vitamin D can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
Researchers also believe low levels of vitamin D can impair the body’s natural immune system. It has been thought to play a role in seasonal illnesses such as the flu, and has been linked to depression and weight gain. Some studies have shown that people with higher levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
The most natural form of vitamin D comes from sunlight and is absorbed through the skin into our bodies. Between the fear of skin cancer and more screen time, Americans are not getting enough vitamin D. A study just out of UC Irvine and the Mayo Clinic has confirmed that vitamin D levels in the U.S. peak in August and hit their lowest point in February, when much of the country is indoors due to shorter days and colder temperatures. This research may confirm the importance of vitamin D with regards to seasonal illnesses.
Very few foods contain vitamin D naturally without fortification. There are just three foods that naturally contain high levels of vitamin D:
- Salmon (especially wild-caught)
- Mackerel (especially wild-caught)
- Mushrooms (when exposed to ultraviolet light)
Of course, foods that are fortified with vitamin D are strong sources of the nutrient. Other natural food sources include: cod liver oil, tuna canned in water, sardines canned in oil, beef or calf liver, egg yolks, and cheese.
Otherwise, get outside and absorb some rays!
Please note that this post is intended to share information and ideas, as well as to create conversation. Please consult a medical professional before making changes to your lifestyle.