Vitamin D

Hi there!

Is it just me or is this winter going on forever?!

Did you know that the weather actually matters to your nutritional health?

It has to do with vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin.

Let me explain…

Vitamin D

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because it is made by the body in response to sunlight exposure. It is also found in some foods but either way, it has to be activated by the body before it can be used.

Fun fact: Vitamin D is actually a hormone.

Why is vitamin D good for you?

  • Maintains normal blood concentrations of calcium and phosphorus by promoting their absorption from the gut, promoting their release from the bones, and decreasing their excretion by the kidneys.
  • Prevents rickets in children (bone malformation)
  • Prevents osteomalacia in adults (bone softening, easy fractures, involuntary muscle spasms)
  • Helps regulate immune functions

Vitamin D is very popular with researchers now so we may soon find out that it has many more functions linked to heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, certain types of cancer, and depression.

What are some vitamin D rich foods?

Like I said, you can actually get vitamin D from the sun but not if there is something blocking the sun from your skin. This could include dense clouds, heavy smog, clothing, sunscreen, and even windows. Believe it or not, dark skin also gets in the way of vitamin D synthesis from the sun. Winter, northern latitudes (north of San Francisco or Philadelphia) , and old age are also associated with poor vitamin D synthesis.

So with that in mind, let’s look at some food sources of vitamin D.

Fun fact: Mushrooms can also synthesize vitamin D when they are exposed to UV light.

Food IU micrograms (μg)
3 ounces rainbow trout 640 16
3 ounces salmon 440- 600 11-15
3 ounces canned tuna 240 6
1 cup milk or fortified orange juice 400 10
3 ounces mushrooms 4-400 0-10
RDA for adults up to 70 years 600 15
RDA for adults over 70 years 800 20

RDA is the amount of a nutrient that meets the needs of most people of a specified age and sex.

Did you notice mushrooms in there? Levels of vitamin D vary because some mushrooms have been exposed to UV light and some haven’t – check the label. I used to buy Monterey’s vitamin D enhanced mushrooms (the label says 100% vitamin D) but I haven’t found them near my new home.

What’s your favorite way to get vitamin D?
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9 Comments

  1. That’s one thing we don’t have to worry too much about in sunny Arizona is vitamin D although I write about it to encourage others to consume this essential nutrient. Well done! Love your sensible blog!

    Reply
  2. We in the Great Land Down Under are pretty much in Ellie’s boat, Diana. We burn to a crisp under these southern skies. Still, your comments – as always – about nutritious foods are a welcome guide to sensible eating. Just a damned shame more people don’t take greater care of themselves. Enjoy your weekend! David.

    Reply
  3. In and around Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, known as the Sunshine State. Offsetting our wondrous Vitamin D quotients is the harsh reality that we have the highest rate of melanomas in the world. Carry a few scars myself where I’ve had the cancerous things cut out. But, as they say, there is a price for everything!

    Reply
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