If your parents ever told you off for spending summer indoors, there’s a good chance you’ve been lectured about the benefits of vitamin D. This legendary compound seems to have mystical healing properties. Exactly how much of this is true and can we only get it from the sun?
Far from being an old wive’s tale, vitamin D is an extremely important group of chemicals. Maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels helps prevent rickets, osteoporosis and a host of other unpleasant conditions.
Vitamin D works by helping absorption of magnesium, calcium and phosphorous through the gut. On top of this, it keeps the immune system functioning. By influencing the genes responsible for attacking incoming bacteria, vitamin D plays a crucial role in fighting against infections.
Unlike other deficiencies, a lack of vitamin D in the body is absolutely devastating (and we’re not talking about listless hair).
As far as the skin is concerned, this compound is truly remarkable. Made under the surface layer, vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects are able to prevent wrinkling, heal wounds and cure dry/flaky skin. Overall, a good dose will leave you looking replenished and healthy.
In this article, we’ll look at 5 of the best sources of vitamin D:
The sun is the giver of life. It’s responsible not only for growing almost all of our food, but for feeding us directly with essential nutrients. When we expose our skin to the light, our body generates large quantities of vitamin D.
Unless you’re suffering from a dermatological condition, humans can produce almost all vitamin D necessary to live by spending only 10 minutes in the sun daily. Obviously, there’s a pretty glaring catch here. If you’re not living in the tropics, it’s unlikely blazing sunshine is daily fare for you.
In fact, for most northern Europeans, producing vitamin D naturally is next to impossible between November and March. Supplementation with the right food is an absolute necessity in this case.
10 minutes of sun exposure creates 10,000 IU of vitamin D (approximately 16 times more than suggested intake via food).
2. Fish Oil
Perhaps not the most appetising food on this list, fish oil is nonetheless one of the more powerful vitamin D sources.
Why not just fish? While both contain the same chemicals, fish oil has more concentrated forms of omega 3 and vitamin D. Both are particularly absorbable in this form as well, and supplementing daily is a lot easier than keeping the fridge stocked with oilier fish varieties.
Contains 75% of daily recommended amount (450 IU) in 1 teaspoon.
Okay, so we just extolled the virtues of pure, concentrated fish oil. However, fish should still occupy a space in a standard diet for its other health benefits.
Rich in proteins and fats, good quality fish is famed for its ability to boost skin health and improve brain function.
Trout is a particularly strong source of vitamin D. Contains 760 IU in 100 grams.
Noticed a theme yet? Vitamin D is generally found in healthy sources of fats. Contrary to popular belief, fats are an absolutely essential part of our diet and responsible for more bodily functions than practically any other macronutrient.
Although eggs might not be as rich a source as fish, they have the added benefit of mixing easily into numerous dishes. Does frittata really feel like a supplement? Don’t discard the yolk: this is where the important stuff is located!
Contains 41 IU of vitamin D per large egg.
5. Orange Juice
If you’re looking for the strongest, most natural sources of vitamin D, you’re probably better off sticking to fish-based meals. However, if you’re looking to branch out and take advantage of modern supplementation, why not enhance existing food?
Fortified orange juice is a popular carrier for vitamins, D included. Although the strength may vary, cartons will usually label amounts clearly.
What’s great about fortified juices, as long as they’re good quality, is that they’ll boost your levels of other important nutrients. Remember calcium from earlier? Give your body a double-whammy of bone-promoting chemicals by drinking calcium and vitamin D-fortified juice—the latter will help the stomach absorb the former.
Typically contains around 100+ IU per 250ml serving.