Are you struggling with the winter blues? Is it cold and dark and dreary in your part of the country? When was the last time you felt and saw the sun? You could be lacking vitamin D, and this can lead to depression and a lower immunity to fight colds.
So, if you aren’t able to get your much-needed 15 minutes of sunlight each day to supply your body’s vitamin D needs, start battling wintertime blues with nutrition with these food options:
- Fatty fish: This includes salmon, mackerel, canned tuna, and sardines. Three ounces of salmon provides 450 IU of vitamin D—almost all of the daily recommendation of 600 IU. Canned tuna and sardines are an inexpensive way to get in seafood, giving you heart healthy omega 3s and 150 IU of vitamin D per serving. Another bonus is the long shelf life if you haven’t been to the grocery store to get fresh protein choices.
- Milk: Almost all cows’ milk in the U.S. is fortified with vitamin D. A lot of other dairy products are, too, but not ice cream or cheese. Typically an 8-ounce glass of milk has 100 IUs of vitamin D, and most yogurt has around 80 IU for a 6-ounce container. If you are choosing soymilk or almond milk, most are fortified, but check the labels to be sure.
- Fortified orange juice: If you aren’t a fan of milk or have lactose intolerance, 100% orange juice is an option. Typically an 8-ounce glass has the same amount of vitamin D as a glass of milk (100 IU). Just make sure you are buying the fortified kind.
- Egg yolks: Eggs are a great way to get in vitamin D. However, you have to eat the whole egg and not just the whites to get the benefit. One egg yolk has 40 IUs.
- Fortified cereal: Another way to double up on vitamin D is to choose a fortified cereal to have with your milk or glass of OJ at breakfast. 1 cup of Multi Grain Cheerios provides 90 IUs of vitamin D. Add milk to that and you are close to 200 IUs! Just be sure to choose cereals that are labeled as fortified with vitamin D.
- Supplements: If you still have trouble getting all of your vitamin D needs met through food and the sun, an alternative is to take a supplement. The upper-limit dose for individuals over age 9 is 4,000 IU per day. Consuming more than this can lead to higher blood calcium levels and increased risk of kidney stones. Always talk to your physician before starting a supplement.
Recent studies have found that nearly 3 out of 4 individuals have either a Vitamin D deficiency or borderline deficiency. Most of this because we spend more time indoors compared to our parents and grandparents. Longer work hours, longer commutes in a vehicle, and more screen time indoors definitely play a part. Get outside, incorporate more of the foods above, and chat with your doctor about supplementing. All of this can mean a healthier immune system, stronger bones, and lower risk of some cancers.
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