Vitamin D – also referred to as the sunshine vitamin because our bodies make it when we’re exposed to the light – is especially important in winter when people tend to spend less time outdoors.
When it comes to boosting your general health, it’s a no-brainer – it keeps bones, teeth and muscles healthy. And a lack of it can lead to bone deformities and pain.
Here are seven ways to get that sunshine vitamin into your life all year round.
This is the easiest option and one many will be doing already. It’s important to check with your doctor before taking any supplement to assess your specific needs. Most experts will recommend 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D a day between October and early March to keep your bones and muscles healthy. People with dark skin are urged to take them all year round.
Do not take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day, as it could be harmful. Taking too many supplements over a prolonged period can cause a build up of calcium in the body, known as hypercalcaemia, which can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and heart.
Online pharmacies have reported a rise in demand for vitamin D, attributed to the fact more people are spending time indoors during the third lockdown.
From late March until the end of September, most people will normally get enough vitamin D through a mixture of sunshine and a balanced diet. But in 2021, where lockdowns prevent people from leaving their homes as much, this may not be the case.
People with darker skin – for example, those from an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background – may not get enough vitamin D from sunlight, which is why they may be urged to take a daily supplement of vitamin D throughout the year.
People who do not spend much time outdoors, live in care homes or who cover up most of their skin when outdoors, are also advised to look into vitamin D supplements. Again, a doctor will be able to figure out a dosage based on your needs.
Salmon is a great source of vitamin D. You can also find it in mackerel, tinned tuna, kippers, trout, herrings, pilchards and sardines.
Eggs are the best source of vitamin D after oily fish. This is particularly the case when the eggs come from free range hens who’ve had access to sunlight and a good diet. The vitamin D content in eggs is basically all in the yolk.
Red meat such as beef and lamb contain decent amounts of vitamin D. The content in muscle meat is generally much lower, according to a study published in the journal Advances In Nutrition.
Many of the foods already mentioned are not vegan-friendly, but there are ways to get vitamin D even if you follow a plant-based diet – and mushrooms should be your number one friend.
A review on the vitamin D content of mushrooms, published in the journal Nutrients, found levels of vitamin D can decrease slightly in storage and after cooking. However, eat your mushrooms before their “best-before” date and the vitamin D level is likely to remain above 10 micrograms.
“Mushrooms have the potential to be the only non-animal, unfortified food source of vitamin D that can provide a substantial amount of vitamin D in a single serving.
Vitamin Fortified foods
There are a variety of foods that are fortified with vitamin D. Many popular cereals all have the added nutrients. As well as many milk products, even the non-dairy versions.
The good news is that it’s never too early — or too late — to adopt healthy habits.
When you’re young, you can build the foundation for a lifetime of good health.
When you’re older, healthy habits can help you control any diseases you have and lower your risk of getting others in the future.