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Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that as many as 30 million Americans suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, making it the most common nutrient deficiency in the country. There is no absolute consensus among medical professionals as to the exact amount of daily vitamin D required, but the Mayo Clinic uses the bench mark of 600 international units (IU). Related to Vitamin
But how do we get all of this vitamin D, and why is it so important to our overall health?
The body derives most of the vitamin D it needs from sunlight (good old ultraviolet B rays), but food and supplements are also common sources. Regardless of how you get your vitamin D — whether from an afternoon on the beach, a bowl of mushrooms, or a pill — the body needs to convert it into a useable substance called 25(OH)D.
After vitamin D is processed, the chemical is dispersed throughout the body, where it is “activated,” and able to perform its two main functions: managing calcium in the blood, bones, and gut; and assisting with intercellular communication. Within these two broad categories, vitamin D serves many other functions. It helps the body absorb calcium, promotes bone growth, helps fight depression, encourages weight loss, and reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and the flu.
In the winter months, however, sunlight can be unreliable, with the time of day and your geographical location dramatically impacting the amount of vitamin D the body can manufacture. Getting your vitamin D through food is a more consistent and reliable solution that also avoids the risk of sunburn or skin cancer. Eating foods naturally rich in vitamin D — like certain fish and mushrooms — or foods fortified with vitamin D — such as tofu, milk, or orange juice — is an easy way to incorporate this crucial vitamin into your diet.
Here are 10 foods that are full of vitamin D.
Buying and preparing fresh fish can be expensive and time consuming (not to mention it makes your whole kitchen smell like the supermarket seafood counter). Canned tuna is affordable and easy to use, has a year-long shelf life, and contains 236 IU of vitamin D (more than half the daily requirement) in a single three and a half-ounce can. Whether it’s served in a tuna melt or as part of a tuna-avocado salad, canned tuna may be the solution to your lack of vitamin D.
The winter holidays may be several months away, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that a glass of eggnog contains 25 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin D. Eggnog contains eggs and fortified dairy, both of which are sources of vitamin D. It may not be a wise habit to fortify your diet with this overly-sweet (and often boozy) beverage, but eggnog’s vitamin D content is still a fun fact to mention at future holiday parties.
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