A growing body of research supports vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for heart disease.
Vitamin D acts as a hormone that regulates over 200 genes. Some functions of vitamin D include:
- Aids in absorption of calcium within in intestinal track
- Necessary for blood clotting
- Aids in secretion of insulin from the pancreas to regular blood sugar levels
- Stimulates mineralization of bone cells
- Necessary for thyroid function
What causes vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency is a growing concern. The body produces vitamin D from sunlight, but even individuals living in sunny climates are being found to have vitamin D deficiency. Some factors that cause deficiency include:
- Aging – As you get older you absorb less vitamin D from your diet and your skin produces less vitamin D.
- Reduced absorption of fat – If you have inflammatory bowel disease and other conditions associated with malabsorption of fat, you are at greater risk for deficiency.
- Medications – Particularly the steroid prednisone and weight loss medications that block fat absorption.
- Sunscreen – While it protects you from UV radiation, it also blocks your ability to produce vitamin D. (I’m not suggesting you stop using sunscreen.)
- Location – If you live above the 42nd latitude your body is not able to produce Vitamin D from the sun’s rays between November and February. Chicago, IL is at the 42nd latitude.
How much vitamin D do you need daily?
Current recommended dietary allowances for Vitamin D equal 600 IUs for men and women between the ages of 1 and 70 years-old. At the age of 70, recommended intake increases to 800 IU per day.
Foods are not generally a great source of vitamin D. Only a few foods contain vitamin D and even fewer contain a substantial level to help you meet your goal of 600 IUs daily.
Some food sources of vitamin D include:
- Salmon (447 IUs per serving)
- Tuna (154 IUs per serving)
- Fortified milk (~120 IUs per serving)
- Canned sardines (46 IUs per serving)
- Liver (42 IUs per serving)
- Eggs (41 IUs per serving)
- Ready to eat cereal, fortified (40 IUs per serving)
Vitamin D content of mushrooms varies. If you select mushrooms with “UV-treated” on the package label, they contain higher levels of vitamin D. UV-treated mushrooms provide 446 IUs of vitamin D per 3.5 ounces.
Here are tips for increasing mushrooms in your diet:
- Add sliced mushrooms to salads.
- Add mushrooms to stir-fry meals.
- Add sautéed mushrooms to eggs.
- Add mushrooms to sauces (white sauce, gravies, pasta sauce).
Vitamin D and High Blood Pressure
Individuals with higher vitamin D levels tend to have lower blood pressure.
Are you working to improve blood pressure levels? If so, sign up for the free e-course 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure at http://lowerbloodpressurewithlisa.com.