The best way to protect against vitamin D deficiency is to get it from food and get tested regularly. We will tell you why, what foods contain the substance, and how much you need to eat to make up for the deficiency.
Why you need vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble organic compound needed to maintain calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium levels in the blood. In fact, it is a hormone that is involved in many processes in the body: the functioning of the thyroid gland, increasing immunity, having a beneficial effect on the cells of the intestines, kidneys, and muscles, regulating blood pressure, and heart function. The substance activates more than two thousand genes, and its deficiency has been proven to be associated with more than 200 diseases.
In children, vitamin D prevents rickets, a disease associated with impaired bone development. In adults, the substance fights caries and gum disease, protects against osteoporosis, and accelerates the healing of fractures.
The required daily dose varies from 400 IU for infants to 800 IU for people over 70 years of age. The recommended norm in blood serum is from 30 to 100 ng/ml.
Deficiency is especially susceptible to the elderly, newborns, pregnant women, as well as patients with disorders of the digestive system: Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, malabsorption syndrome, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.
To get an adequate dose of vitamin D, you need to spend three hours a day under the bright sun in open clothes from 11 am to 3 pm. When sunbathing in a bathing suit, half an hour will be enough.
Residents of most of Russia do not have access to such an amount of sun. In our country, from November to March, the angle of incidence of sunlight is too sharp, as well as many cloudy days. Even if the weather in your region is sunny, then at least six months you are in closed clothes.
And in the summer, spending a lot of time in the sun is definitely harmful. Ultraviolet radiation is associated with an increased risk of melanoma – skin cancer – and premature aging, and also causes mutations in the cell genome, skin burns, and pigmentation.
What foods contain vitamin D
1. Oily fish – salmon, mackerel, chum – and seafood
Oily fish is one of the best sources of fat-soluble compounds. The product is also rich in beneficial omega-3 acids. Try to eat fish at least twice a week to maintain the right levels of nutrients. Most of the vitamin in mackerel – more than 400 IU per 100 grams – as well as in Atlantic herring – 310 IU. One 100-gram serving of sardines contains 177 IU of the nutrient.
There is also a lot of vitamin in cod liver oil: in a tablespoon – 1.3 thousand IU. In the liver itself – 100 IU.In salmon – an average of 360 to 685 IU. The amount depends on where the fish grew. Caught in the cold seas, wild fish is the richest in useful substances.
Popular in the New Year, red caviar is a champion in vitamin D saturation: in a tablespoon – 800 IU. However, you can’t get carried away with the product due to the fact that it is very salty.
2. Egg yolks
One yolk contains 5% of the daily value of the “sunshine vitamin”. Choose eggs from free-range chickens – the product can contain three to four times more of the substance than eggs from indoor hens.
Benefit concentration may drop depending on how the egg is prepared. So, when baking, up to 60% of the benefits are lost, while poached – up to 18%. And although the protein is better absorbed when cooked hard-boiled, the situation is reversed with the yolk – a quick heat treatment for several minutes is preferable.
Eggs are rich in cholesterol, so people with diseases of the cardiovascular system, such as atherosclerosis, should better limit their consumption.
100 grams of champignons grown under ultraviolet light replenish the daily requirement of vitamin D. But the condition of growing outdoors or under UV lamps is important. If champignons were grown in the dark, like most industrial mushrooms, then there will be no such benefit.
There is also a lot of D in chanterelles and morels – sometimes up to 2300 IU per 100 grams. Shiitake, both fresh and dried, are also considered a source of the vitamin – they contain 26 IU of the substance per 100 grams.
4. Dairy products
Most of the “sun” is cottage cheese, cheese, and butter. In 18% cottage cheese – 23 IU of vitamin D per 100 grams, in parmesan – 20 IU. Butter contains 52 IU. Milk is especially saturated with it, usually, there is a mark on the packaging about this.
5. Soy milk
Vegetarians are prone to vitamin D deficiency, so the substance is often added to plant-based milk. A glass usually contains 99 to 119 IU. Vegetable milk is loved not only by vegans, but also by followers of a healthy diet, as it contains almost no fat, and the taste is not much different from ordinary milk.
6. Orange juice
In addition to nutrient-fortified milk, there are also juices in stores. So, in a glass of orange – about 100 IU, that is, 12% of the daily requirement.
100 grams of seaweed deliver up to 48% of the substance to the body.
8. Beef liver
One of the most valuable offal – the liver is rich in essential amino acids, vitamins B, A, E, K and, of course, D. Heparin in the composition helps fight thrombosis, and iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium support healthy bones, teeth and skin. The liver has the least amount of vitamin D among the above foods, however, it is enough to keep your levels good if you are not already deficient.
Can You Get Too Much Vitamin D?
Remember that excess is no less harmful than a deficiency – in this case, the body will receive too high doses of calcium, which can cause the deposition of kidney stones or even provoke a heart attack. In addition, an excess of this compound contributes to polyuria – excessive urine output.
Excess most often happens from uncontrolled intake of dietary supplements. If an overdose occurs from nutrition and sunlight, then the body itself will regulate the excess.
It is recommended that everyone consume foods with vitamin D on a regular basis, and most often the doctor prescribes it additionally in the form of a supplement. This is due to the fact that in recent years there has been a gradual decrease in the nutritional value of products – especially for animals and crops grown on an industrial scale is not the most favorable environmental conditions.