When you think of vitamin D, you probably think of spending more time outdoors. Vitamin D can be produced naturally by the body, but in order to trigger this, it is necessary to get exposure to direct sunlight.
While this is true though, it’s also true that you can get vitamin D in your diet. Sometimes this is simply because certain foods naturally contain large helpings of the vitamin but in other cases, it’s because the vitamin D has been ‘artificially’ added to the food. It really doesn’t matter how it came about though, getting more of this nutrient is very good for you and is something that should definitely be encouraged.
That’s because vitamin D actually acts a little differently to other vitamins in the body and in some ways is even superior. In a sense, vitamin D acts a little more similarly to a hormone and is even sometimes referred to as a ‘master hormone’. That’s because it has the ability to encourage, increase and reduce the production of other hormones throughout the body.
This makes a lot of sense when you consider that vitamin D is linked with sunlight and that hormones triggered by the weather and other factors help to regulate various cycles in the human body. But it also means that vitamin D is essential for enhancing testosterone, for boosting sleep and for generally keeping your body ticking over as it should be.
And on top of all that, recent research now suggests that vitamin D might also be very effective in supporting the immune system. It appears that it can actually be more effective than vitamin C – and even some vaccines – when it comes to preventing colds and flus. It even plays a role for the development of infants in the womb and in strengthening and supporting bones.
So, what foods in particular offer a good source of vitamin D? What are the best foods for raising it in your body?
Let’s take a look at 18 different sources you can start out with.
Tuna is a fantastic source of all things and you’ll find that many different types of fish are particularly good for supplying vitamin D. In the case of tuna, you’ll be getting around 77% of your DV from each 171G can, which is around 458IU.
On top of that, you’ll also get omega 3 fatty acid, which is known to reduce inflammation, as well as improving communication between cells and preventing damage caused by oxidation. Tuna is also an excellent place to get your protein being a very lean source.
The only downside is that tuna is also high in mercury, which can build up in your system if you eat too much and potentially cause a number of health problems.
Salmon is another fish and another great source of vitamin D! Specifically, salmon will get you around 172% of your DV from just half a fillet, making this a very rich source. That means you’ll be getting 1035IU.
Salmon is also often recommend primarily for being a source of omega 3 but it is also great for a whole range of other reasons. Apart from being a lean protein source it’s also nutritious and packed with minerals. Best of all, it’s actually genuinely delicious.
Let’s keep the fish going! Cod is another rich protein source, another good place to get your omega 3 and another good way to get some vitamin D. You can also actually get the same benefits (except for the protein) by consuming the oil on its own.
This is why many people take cod liver oil tablets and it’s why this option is actually more nutritious than just having omega 3 pure. You’ll get 450IU from a teaspoon of the oil, which is around 75% of your DV.
Another item on the list, another fish. This time you’ll be getting 90% of your DV from just a single fillet. That’s 540IU. It’s another good source of protein and another good source of omega 3.
The take home message from this is simple: eat more fish. Fish is fantastically nutritious and it’s something most of us need a lot more of in our diet. We evolved eating a large amount of fish and of seafood in general but today, most of us don’t get enough. Change that!
Milk is one of those foods that does not naturally contain vitamin D but if you get a particular kind then it will have had it added. We call this fortified milk.
Milk is very good for you for a number of reasons and fortifying it with extra vitamin D only makes it moreso. The great thing about milk with added vitamin D is that it has a synergistic effect with the naturally occurring nutrients. Specifically, I am talking about the calcium which builds the bones.
Vitamin D helps the body to utilize said calcium and thus this combination is ideal for preventing osteoarthritis and other issues.
Milk is also high in protein and in the good kind of fat. Magnesium content helps to improve sleep.
Like milk, yogurt can also be fortified with additional vitamin D. The precise amount of vitamin D you get will depend very much on the product, seeing as it is added in various quantities. However, on average you can expect a pot of yogurt to get you around 88IU which is 15% of your DV.
On top of that, you’ll also get all the other benefits of yogurt. For instance, you’ll get to benefit from the fact that it supports healthy bacteria in the gut. This enhances everything from digestion, to mood, to focus and concentration.
7. Soy Milk
So, fish was a rich source of vitamin D across the board and it looks like it’s a similar story for dairy. Soy milk is a good place to get added vitamin D along with magnesium and calcium even if you are lactose intolerant.
It’s once again nutritious in a lot of other ways and is actually one of the most popular protein sources for most vegans!
8. Almond Milk
Another type of milk you can enjoy with added vitamin D often is almond milk. Almond milk once again doesn’t bring vitamin D naturally but it is often added in.
And once again, this is a great source of calcium and other nutrients for those that are lactose intolerant. It’s actually very sweet too and probably closer to regular milk than soy.
Just as the milk itself is fortified, so too is cereal in many cases. This is because a lot of cereal is aimed at children and from a marketing perspective this means that it makes sense to impress their parents!
Fortified cereal does this and once again means you’re getting your vitamin D in conjunction with calcium.
If you’re looking for the biggest hit of vitamin D and if you want an abundant and convenient source that’s not fish, then you should look no further than mushrooms. Mushrooms are massively healthy.
Once again, they’re an amazing source of protein but they’re also very high in a range of other interesting nutrients and many of them have near fantastical properties that we’re only just now learning more about.
To get the benefits, you’ll need a mushroom that was grown while being exposed to sunlight as opposed to having been grown under a lamp. You’ll then be able to get as much as 977IU, which is 164% of your IU from a single cup. Portabella, brown, crimini and white button mushrooms are all good places to start.