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Which foods are naturally high in vitamin D?

Food sources

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(NaturalNews) Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with a broad range of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and even cancer. Because one of the primary roles of vitamin D is to help the body absorb calcium, low levels of the vitamin have also been linked with osteoporosis, osteopenia and osteoarthritis.

For some people, getting enough vitamin D can be problematic. That's because the vitamin occurs naturally in only a few food sources. In today's modern diets, fortified foods and supplements including fish oil capsules provide the majority of our vitamin D. Interested in incorporating some D into your diet? Knowing which foods are high in vitamin D is the first step (1):

Natural sources

High-fat fish: Cod liver oil tops the list, offering 340 percent of the daily recommended value for vitamin D, but you can also get your D with salmon and swordfish, which offer from 110 percent to 150 percent of your recommended allowance. Canned tuna is also a good source, offering just over a third of the daily allowance per 3-ounce serving, and just two canned sardines offer 12 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin D.

Liver: 3 ounces of cooked liver provides 11 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin D.

Eggs (just the yolk, actually): Each yolk provides about 10 percent of your daily vitamin D amount.

Mushrooms: It's true that vitamin D typically occurs naturally in foods with proteins, but recent studies have shown that it's also available in mushrooms -- and what's even more interesting, mushrooms can actually increase their levels of vitamin D simply by being exposed to the sun. It turns out that mushrooms respond to sunlight in much the same way as human skin, processing the sun's ultraviolet rays in a way that actually creates vitamin D. (2) If you like mushrooms, you can help your body to some extra D by unwrapping your mushrooms and taking them outdoors during the warm spring and summer months for up to 60 minutes or so before preparing them. The amount of vitamin D a mushroom contains can vary based on the type of mushroom and the level of sunlight exposure; Portobellos appear to produce the greatest amounts of the vitamin. (3) You can also buy mushrooms and mushroom powders that have been exposed to high levels of UV light during processing.

Fortified sources

Because it occurs naturally in so few foods, Americans get most of their food-derived vitamin D from fortified sources. In the U.S., vitamin D fortification of foods began in the 1930s in an effort to combat the widespread prevalence of rickets, a condition caused by vitamin D deficiency. These are the most common foods fortified with vitamin D today:

Orange juice: Just one cup provides about a third of your recommended daily allowance. Check your labels since vitamin D levels can vary.

Milk and yogurt: One cup of milk offers just under a third of your recommended daily allowance, and six ounces of yogurt provides about 20 percent. Vitamin D supplementation in these products also helps your body absorb the calcium they contain.

Since the food sources of vitamin D are limited and the consequences of vitamin D deficiency are so significant and varied, most people can benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement, including mushroom powders that provide high levels of D. When choosing a supplement, be sure that it comes from a reputable source to ensure that the levels of vitamin D are consistent and verified. And since vitamin D can help you absorb higher levels of bone-building calcium, consider combining your vitamin D with a mineral supplement or calcium-rich food source for a double-dose of good health.


(1) http://ods.od.nih.gov

(2) http://www.eurekalert.org

(3) http://www.ars.usda.gov [PDF]


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