Health Benefits of Vitamin D

January 05, 2023

Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Have you noticed that one of the first vitamin your doctor will ask if your taking is vitamin D?

It’s no wonder really because Vitamin D regulates numerous cellular functions which are critical for many of the body’s operations.  Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that:

  • helps your body absorb and use calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth;
  • keeps inflammation in check and supports your immune system;
  • has neuroprotective properties that can reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis;
  • can assist with maintenance of good cognitive health;
  • reduction cardiometabolic dysfunction.

While vitamin D can be found in some commonly consumed foods such as milk and margarine and some soy or rice beverages, yogurts, fatty fish, egg yolks and milk, most of us know that vast amounts of vitamin D are actually made as a result of the skin’s exposure to UV rays from sunlight.  In Canada, many people have low vitamin D levels in winter due to lack of consistent levels of sun exposure.  Additionally, we are always trying to prevent skin cancer by applying sunscreen – definitely important as some types of skin cancer have very high mortality rates – but sunscreen also reduces the skin’s vitamin D production.

Clinical trials currently do not support vitamin D supplementation in prevention of heart disease per se. However, a supplement is often recommended when people have low levels of the vitamin. Keep in mind that the Institute of Medicine’s expert committee warns that total daily intake should remain below 4000 IU for adults and below 2500 IU for children, unless otherwise recommended by your doctor. Women aged 50 and older need 800 to 1000 IU(International Units) of Vitamin D a day with the safe upper limit for adults usually set at 4000 IU. Also make sure that you check to see if vitamin D supplements have any interactions with any prescriptions drugs that you may be taking.

The best way to get all vitamins and minerals into our body is through healthy foods that are rich in those elements.  Try incorporating more vitamin D by incorporating the following into your regular routine of foods:

  • A 100g salmon filet (look for wild caught) which can bring up to 125% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin D. Salmon is a delicate meat and tastes best when it is not overcooked; overcooking leaves the fish tough and destroys the delicate flavours.  To get the best results with salmon, check it while you’re cooking by using a fork to separate the flesh at the thickest part and checking to see that the centre still has a portion with a darker pink colour.  Remove it from the heat at this point to prevent over cooking.
  • Grilled shrimp are also a delicious source of Vitamin D. Similar to salmon, shrimp should also not be overcooked.  In their raw form they’re grey in colour, but they turn a lovely pink when they are cooking, they lose their translucent appearance and the flesh becomes firm instead of flaccid.  When you notice these changes in the shrimp you will know they it’s almost time to remove them from the heat.
  • Eggs and more eggs. Egg yolks are a very good source of vitamin D and there are endless ways to prepare them.  It’s also great that they’re an excellent source of protein and about the cheapest protein on the market.  Given the cost of meat these days, getting more eggs in our diet isn’t a bad option.
  • Mushrooms! Wild mushrooms are an outstanding plant-based supply of vitamin D with a 25g serving having a full recommended daily amount (remember that mushrooms grown in the dark have significantly less vitamin D).  Depending on what mushrooms you choose and how you prepare them, they can be a great substitute for meat in a meal.  There’s huge mushroom variety and the flavour profiles are amazing when you begin to experiment with them in your cooking.
  • Cheeses and dairy that are fortified with vitamin D – many dairy products have vitamin D added so check the labels and incorporate these into your recipes.

 



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