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 https://lowerbloodpressurewithlisa.com.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.