So you hear more and more about the health benefits of vitamin D and now you want to know what foods you should eat to improve your vitamin D levels. Well, there are very few foods high in vitamin D naturally, but there are some.
The best options for foods high in vitamin D are fatty fish, fish oils, and eggs from hens fed vitamin D. In addition, milk products and breakfast cereal are typically fortified with vitamin D. Because vitamin D is not naturally found in many foods many individuals are simply going to need to take vitamin D supplements to obtain optimal vitamin D levels. Of course getting sun-shine helps, too which was the main way our ancestors got their vitamin D.
Fatty fish, despite the name, are quite healthy and are typically cold water fish. They include salmon, tuna, trout, herring, sardines, mackerel, and halibut. These fish are best broiled, grilled, or steam to preserve the nutrients in them. One nice thing about consuming high-grade fish oil is that it is less likely to be contaminated with toxins that fish are exposed to. For information on fish oil products go to International Fish Oil Standards or IFOS.
Health Benefits of Vitamin D
The health benefits of vitamin D are numerous. Vitamin D has long been known to help prevent osteoporosis which affects have of all women. Vitamin D also has anti-inflammatory effects and modulates the master molecule of inflammation called nuclear factor kappa beta, or NF-kappaB. Vitamin D has been an effective adjunct treatment in psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition.
Vitamin D has anti-cancer properties, too. Vitamin D induces apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in malignant cell-lines and inhibits cancer cell proliferation, which seems to be dose-dependent. Some studies have found vitamin D to enhance or improve mood perhaps by affecting serotonin levels, the so-called “happy hormone”.
Low vitamin D is linked to obesity and diabetes with vitamin D playing a role in insulin sensitivity. Vitamin D also enhances immune function in response to infectious diseases like tuberculosis.
Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D levels are being measured more and more as we learn more about this vital nutrient. Though levels above 30 ng/ml are considered normal, to obtain many of the health benefits discussed above levels above 50 or even 60 ng/ml are more optimal. In reality, most individuals are going to require vitamin D supplements to achieve these optimal levels. Though the RDA for vitamin D has been increased to 1,000 IUs a day, in our experience many individuals require 5,000 IUs or more a day to reach optimal vitamin D levels.
Eat fish, get some sunshine, and consider taking a vitamin D supplement to achieve healthy vitamin D levels and better health. This is important since so few foods are high in vitamin D.