Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that provides essential nutrient to the body. Vitamin D aids in calcium breakdown and absorption in the body, growth, and strength of bones, and it’s involved in different functions of the body including weight loss, and the immune and digestive systems. Low vitamin D levels can occur if sun exposure is minimal, suffering from a milk allergy, a vegan diet, or taking certain medications. In fact, vitamin D deficiency affects 13% of the world’s population. The U.S. National Academy of Medicine considers 600-800 IU of daily vitamin D to be sufficient for the majority of adults. There are simple and effective ways to increase vitamin D intake.
Vitamin D is known as “the sunshine vitamin” because sun exposure is key for this vitamin. The skin hosts a special type of cholesterol that works as a precursor to vitamin D. When this cholesterol is exposed to UV-B radiation from the sun and it penetrates vitamin D through the body. However, how much vitamin D you get from sun exposure can depend on several factors such as skin tone and age, geographic location and seasons throughout the year, clothing and sunscreen which can hinder vitamin D production. Many sources suggest about 8-30 minutes of sun exposure 3-4 times a week is sufficient for plenty of vitamin D. Like humans, mushrooms can produce their own vitamin D with exposure to UV light. They are also the only completely plant-based source of vitamin D. Specifically, wild mushrooms usually have more vitamin D than commercially grown mushrooms due to their sun exposure. Wild mushrooms provide as much as 2,000+ IU per 100 grams, that is almost 300% of referenced daily intake.
Among the richest natural food source of vitamin D are fatty fish and seafood. Salmon, tuna, oysters, shrimp, and sardines are great for vitamin D levels and are also filled with omega-3 fatty acids for heart health. In fact, salmon can provide up to 386 IU of vitamin D and that’s close to 50% of RDI. Another easy source of vitamin D to include in your intake are egg yolks. Eggs from free-range chicken offer about 20% of Vitamin D daily intake. When push comes to shove, vitamin D supplements may be the best way to increase your levels. Vitamin D comes in two main biological structures; D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). D2 usually comes from plants and D3 from animals. It’s important to buy high-quality supplements that are tested for purity and grade by a third party, such as Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG). Vitamin D levels should be tested by a medical professional to ensure the appropriate dosage for your body.