Boost Your Bone Health Naturally: Discover 5 Vitamin D-Rich Foods to Fight Weak Bones
Which foods are high in vitamin D?
Vitamin D is one of the most essential nutrients for health, like vitamins A, E, and K. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin absorbed by the digestive tract with dietary fats before being sent into the bloodstream. If you want to know how to get vitamin D, then check these Vitamin D-rich foods:
- Cod liver oil
- Fortified cereals
- Fortified dairy (some non-dairy alternatives)
- Orange juice
- Fish that have high oil content, e.g., herring, mackerel, or tuna
- Whole milk
How to increase intake of vitamin D?
Vitamin D is responsible for bone health; a deficiency of this vitamin can cause osteoporosis, osteomalacia, increased risk of fractures, and brittle bones. The good news is that most people can meet their daily vitamin D requirements by simply getting enough sun exposure and consuming a balanced diet. Supplements and fortified foods can also help increase your intake of vitamin D.
How to get vitamin D?
Going outside is one of the easiest ways of getting an adequate amount of vitamin D. Sunlight helps the body synthesise vitamin D naturally, so just 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight 2 or 3 times a week without sunscreen or too much clothing enables you to boost your vitamin D levels.
Ensure you get the sunshine in the morning or late afternoon when the sun is not too hot to avoid skin damage. If you are exposing yourself to the sun for more than 15 minutes, you must use good sunscreen.
Why do we need vitamin D?
Vitamin D plays a vital role in your body. It is good for the following reasons:
- For bone health: Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, an essential mineral to ensure your bones remain healthy and strong. Too little vitamin D can lead to limited calcium, weakening your bones.
- Immune health: Vitamin D directly interacts with cells that fight infections in the body. Hence, a lack of vitamin D is linked to respiratory illnesses.
- Mental health: Studies have shown links between vitamin D and depression. They also state that increasing vitamin D levels can help improve symptoms of clinical depression.
- Infant health: Vitamin D is essential to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child.
How much vitamin D do I need per day?
According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended daily levels of vitamin D are as follows:
- 0-12 months: 10 micrograms (mcg)(400 IU)
- 1-70 years: 15 mcg (600 IU)
- 71 years and over 20 mcg (800 IU)
However, the actual amount of vitamin D required from your diet or supplements varies depending on several factors such as:
- skin tone (the amount of melanin in the skin)
- latitude where you live
- clothing choices
- whether or not you are obese
Doctors may assess your blood levels to check vitamin D by measuring 25(OH)D in the blood. This is the storage form of vitamin D present in the body. The lack of a single definition of optimal blood levels of vitamin D in the body makes it difficult for scientists to understand how vitamin D acts.
Daily recommended dose of vitamin D
According to the FDA, the daily value (DV) for vitamin D is 800 IU (20 mcg) for children who are 4 years old and above. The same amount is recommended for adults as well.
Food or supplements are one of the best ways to get adequate vitamin D. You need to speak to your doctor and understand if you need to take a vitamin D supplement along with your food and sun exposure.
List of foods that are high in vitamin D
Here is a list of 7 foods that are natural sources of vitamin D
Salmon is one of the most popular vitamin D-rich foods. One 100-gram serving of farmed salmon contains 526 IU of vitamin D, 66% of your DV. Wild-caught salmon typically can contain higher amounts of vitamin D. Halibut and mackerel are other fatty fish that provide 190 and 643 IU of vitamin D.
Herring and sardines
Herring is another common fish eaten worldwide, often pickled or smoked. Fresh Atlantic herring can give you around 214 IU of vitamin D per 100 grams, while pickled herring has around 113 IU. Canned sardines provide 193 IU of vitamin D, which amounts to 24 % of your DV. Making them good sources of vitamin D.
Cod liver oil
If fish is not your thing, taking cod liver oil can help you get around 450 IU of vitamin D per teaspoon. This has been the go-to treatment for vitamin D deficiency for years, as it gives you about 54 % of your DV.
This easy-to-store and flavorful alternative to fresh fish can provide 269 IU of vitamin D in a 100-gram serving, making it around 34% of the DV.
Whole eggs are an excellent source of vitamin D for those who do not prefer fish. While most of the protein is found in the white of the egg, the fats, vitamins, and minerals are located in the yolk. The yolk of one large egg contains 37 IU of vitamin D or 5% of the DV.
Other than fortified foods, mushrooms are the only non-animal source of vitamin D. Mushrooms can synthesise vitamin D when exposed to UV light. However, they only provide Vitamin D2 instead of D3 in animal sources, which may not be as effective as animal sources. One cup of mushrooms contains around 136 IU of vitamin D, 17% of the DV. Commercially grown mushrooms in the dark contain minimal amounts of vitamin D2, while UV-treated mushrooms contain 1,110 IU.
The amount of vitamin D-rich vegetarian food is minimal, and some food products that are not natural are fortified with vitamin D. These include
Cow's milk: Cow's milk is a food rich in nutrients like calcium, riboflavin, and phosphorus. Many countries fortify cow's milk with vitamin D. 1 cup of fortified cow's milk contains 115 IU of vitamin D.
Soy milk: Plant-based milk is a substitute for cow's milk for vegans. This is why these milks are fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients usually found in cow's milk. One cup of soy milk contains 100-119 IU.
Orange juice: 65% of people worldwide are lactose intolerant, and about 2% are allergic to milk. This is why some companies fortify orange juice with vitamin D and other nutrients like calcium. One cup of fortified orange juice contains 100 IU of vitamin D.
Cereals and oatmeal: Cereals like wheat bran flakes contain 145 IU of vitamin D, around 18% of the DV, while crisp rice cereal has about 85 IU. However, not all grains are fortified; you must check the nutritional labels to determine how much vitamin D is in the product.
Vitamin D and calcium
Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption in the body. Calcium is needed to maintain bone strength and skeletal integrity. Getting enough vitamin D and calcium from your diet can protect you against disorders like osteoporosis, a condition characterised by weak and brittle bones.
Like vitamin D, the recommended dietary allowance for calcium varies according to age. Children between the ages of 4-8 need about 1,000 mg of calcium daily, while those between 9-18 need 1,300 mg. Adults between the ages of 19 and 50 need 1,000 mg, and those over 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium daily.
How can I increase my vitamin D fast?
More sun exposure and eating vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods can help increase your vitamin D levels quickly.
Which vegetables are high in vitamin D?
Most natural sources of vitamin D are animals. You can take some amounts of vitamin D from wild mushrooms and mushrooms exposed to UV light.
Which fruits and vegetables have vitamin D?
Vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin D are scarce, and those with vitamin D do not contain adequate amounts to support the recommended dietary intake.
What drink has the most vitamin D?
Fortified drinks include cow's milk, soy, and orange juice. Check the nutritional label as only the fortified beverages have vitamin D, veggies or fruits rich in vitamin D are few.
Vitamin D is responsible for bone density and other vital systems in the body, including our immunity. The daily recommended value of vitamin D ranges between 400 to 800 IU but can change based on several factors. Fish, eggs, mushrooms, and fortified foods are considered vitamin D-rich foods, and you can also increase your Vitamin D intake by consuming vitamin D supplements.
Keeping track of your vitamin D levels can help you maintain bone health and overall immunity. Diagnostic centres like Metropolis Labs offer a range of diagnostic tests that can help you check your vitamin D levels and keep your health on track.