Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin D

diet food health Sep 24, 2021

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is an essential micronutrient that our bodies need for optimal health throughout our whole lives. 

Unfortunately, a third of the U.S. population is Vitamin D deficient!

 

Why this matters:

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays many essential roles in the body, including:

 

  • Promoting calcium absorption
    Our bodies need to absorb calcium for strong bones and teeth. It also prevents hypocalcemic tetany, which is involuntary muscle contractions that can lead to cramps and spasms.

  • Maintaining bone health
    If we don’t have enough calcium, our bones can become thin, brittle, and misshapen. Vitamin D helps with bone growth and remodelling, and, together with calcium, it protects older adults from osteoporosis. 
  • Enhancing immune function
    A Vitamin D deficiency can lead to increased autoimmunity and a higher susceptibility to infection. Evidence suggests that a Vitamin D deficiency is linked to several diseases, including MS, IBS, diabetes mellitus, and rheumatoid arthritis (to name a few).
  • Aiding in muscle cell contraction
    Without enough Vitamin D, the muscles in our body will atrophy (degenerate), which is the opposite of what we’re looking for when we’re lifting weights at the gym.

 

Signs of Vitamin D deficiency

There are several signs of Vitamin D deficiency you can look out for:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • More frequent colds or flu
  • Musculoskeletal pain and soreness

If you’re experiencing these symptoms and think you may be Vitamin D deficient, you can ask your doctor for a blood test to check your Vitamin D levels. 

However, a blood test isn’t necessary. As I mentioned, a third of Americans are Vitamin D deficient, so it’s not unlikely that you are too. If your symptoms aren’t severe, you can easily boost your Vitamin D levels by yourself. 

 

Get that Vitamin D!

The good news about a Vitamin D deficiency is that it’s easy to fix! The Mayo Clinic recommends that people 1 to 70 years old get 600 IU Vitamin D per day. Here’s how you can get it:

Food sources with Vitamin D:

 

  • Egg yolks
    Don’t miss out on the health benefits of egg yolks! They’re delicious and provide several nutrients, including Vitamin D.
    218 IU per 100 g
     
  • Oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
    Don’t be scared of the word “oily,” these types of fish are packed with nutrients such as healthy fats and Vitamin D!
    526 IU per 100 g of salmon
    1,006 IU per 100 g of mackerel
  • Mushrooms
    Mushrooms are super easy to add to just about any meal and give you extra flavour and nutrients.
    7 IU per 100 g (white mushrooms)
    18 IU per 100 g (Shiitake mushrooms)

    Red meat
    We love a nice, juicy steak and knowing that it’s full of the macro and micronutrients our bodies need is a bonus.
    7 IU per 100 g (lean ground beef)

    Liver
    While liver may not be a part of your regular meal rotation now, you may want to reconsider and cook some up for the nutritional benefits.
    36 IU per 100 g

    Fortified foods – such as breakfast cereal, orange juice and almond milk
    Fortified foods are those that have nutrients added to them to improve the nutritional value and health benefits.
    148 IU per 100 g (Cheerios)

   

 

 

Vitamin D also comes from the sun! However, if you live in the U.S., you are at risk of becoming deficient for half of the year! 

To combat a Vitamin D deficiency, you can also take a Vitamin D supplement. It’s an affordable and easy way to ensure you’re getting enough each day. 

 

Bonus tip:

During the summer months, allow for 15 minutes of sun exposure PRIOR to applying sunscreen to allow for vitamin D absorption!