Vitamin D, we’ve all heard about it! It’s one of the first vitamins for me to list when I think of my must take daily vitamins. It’s a universally known fact that the body gets Vitamin D from the sun, especially in the heat of the summer time. While the rays of the sun are great sources of Vitamin D, they also serve as a risk for excessive sun exposure. This can lead to health issues such as skin damage, eye damage, and cancer. Oof. So with that in mind, and for us sun worshippers and beach lovers, how do we get Vitamin D without this risk? Let’s discuss.
There’s no avoiding going in the sun for most of us. So when you do, make sure to use generous amounts of sunscreen. I recommend natural sunscreen options because of their gentleness on the skin.
What is Vitamin D?
Everyone has heard of Vitamin D. Everyone knows it comes from the sun, but does anyone truly know what it is? Vitamin is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it gets absorbed alongside fat in the diet and is stored in fatty tissue and the liver. It is necessary for calcium absorption and bone health. We can get this vitamin in a number of ways, but the most efficient of ways is through food and sunlight. The issue with sunlight is that the UV Rays can also be damaging. So let’s talk about the foods that have plenty of Vitamin D and other alternatives.
Start with Your Diet
Vitamin D is found primarily in plant and animal foods. Fatty fish and seafood are some of the richest sources of Vitamin D when it comes to food. Canned salmon, for example, can supply all the way up to 50% of the daily recommended daily intake for a single person. Of course this exact amount depends on each species. Tuna, oysters, shrimp, and sardines are other seafood items rich in Vitamin D. It might just be time for a big fish dinner in your household!
Need seafood recipe ideas? Check out this Instant Pot Filipino Sinigang Soup recipe containing shrimp!
So what about vegetarians? What options are available to them? Unfortunately, mushrooms are the only vegetarian source of Vitamin D. Mushrooms source their own Vitamin D the same way we do; through exposure to UV rays. Because wild mushrooms are always in the sun, they have much higher Vitamin D levels than commercially produced ones. However, don’t take the word “wild” lightly. Make sure to do research and be careful in your choice.
Egg yolks are another source of Vitamin D, and are a pretty staple food in anyone’s diet. There are many factors that affect the total level of Vitamin D in egg yolks such as chicken feed and how the chickens are raised. Still, all kinds yield some kind of Vitamin D.
The last and final food group that contains Vitamin D are fortified foods. It’s rare for food to naturally have high levels of Vitamin D, so this is where fortified foods come in, as Vitamin D is purposefully added to them. Commonly fortified food and drinks you have probably heard of include cow’s milk, plant-based milk alternatives, and orange juice. Take a look at the ingredients list to see if the food and drinks you consume contain Vitamin D!
Take a Supplement
Supplements are always a great way to go straight to the source for any Vitamin or nutrient. It is a great way to ensure adequate and healthy intake. However, when taking supplements, it is important to invest in high quality ones that have been tested by a third party for quality and purity. Vitamin D supplements vary in dosage too, and the amount that needs to be taken depends on current Vitamin D levels. However, certain circumstances might allow for higher dosages, so it’s important to schedule an appointment with a professional to ensure you take the right amount.
There are lamps on the market specifically designed to emit UV-B radiation and increase Vitamin D levels. They are also known as light boxes and have also been used to help treat seasonal depression and other skin conditions. So, they are pretty strong! However, there are two issues at hand: they can be expensive and too much exposure can have negative effects. Since its UV-B rays are designed to mimic the sun, the same risk stands, but because it’s a lamp, there is more control. Professionals typically recommend no more than 15 minutes at a time. These lamps are great for increasing Vitamin D levels if you don’t typically get much sun exposure or spend a lot of time indoors.
I strongly recommend starting with your diet when it comes to increasing your Vitamin D levels. It’s the easiest way to do it and there’s a good chance you already consume some of these foods rich in Vitamin D! Take a look at the ingredients list of the foods you commonly eat, and let me know if you find some that have Vitamin D in the comments!