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Even though we get vitamin D from sunlight, which is free, many of us still suffer from low levels of this essential nutrient. This can happen when you don’t spend enough time outdoors, or if you have a darker skin pigmentation (which makes it harder for you to absorb light). Those who are overweight or have diabetes might also be at risk of deficiency. But why is this so important?
Vitamin D aids in a number of essential functions, such as supporting a healthy immune system. It also keeps your bones and teeth strong, and helps to regulate insulin in the body. Research has pointed toward a link between low vitamin D and diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, and heart disease. Clearly, you want to be sure to include enough of this important vitamin in your diet for disease prevention.
How much is enough? Experts say that most adults and children should aim for 15 micrograms of vitamin D per day. But that amount increases to 20 micrograms daily for those over age 70. Many milk products are fortified with extra vitamin D, but you can also obtain the nutrient from these foods:
- Salmon – either canned or fresh
- Cooked white fish like hoki, barramundi, basa or king dory
- Yogurt and cottage cheese
- Beef liver
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Fortified soy, rice, or almond milk (check the label)
- Fortified fruit juices (not all are; check the label and be wary of added sugar)
- Soy products
- Mushrooms, after exposure to sunlight (place them in a sunny window for 15 minutes or so before cooking)
- 1 tsp cod liver oil (be careful with this; it can be toxic in high amounts)
If you’re concerned about your vitamin D levels, it’s okay to take a supplement too. But because deficiency is often linked to a poor diet, we do recommend that you evaluate your food choices first. If you have any questions about your diet, whether for weight loss or disease prevention purposes, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.