Top Heart-Healthy Vitamin D Rich Foods
Low vitamin D levels may contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes, intima-media thickness, and coronary calcification, all of which are risk factors for heart disease. Cellular vitamin D receptors also affect inflammation, suggesting vitamin D may not only impact risk factors contributing to heart disease, but may also have a direct impact on heart disease.
How much vitamin D?
The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) develops Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), which are broken down into Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), Adequate Intake (AI), and Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). We use these established DRIs to determine how much of a nutrient to include in our diet daily for optimal health. The FNB recommends 600 IU of vitamin D daily for men and women between the ages of 19-71 years-old.
Too little vitamin D?
A study conducted at the University of Copenhagen reviewed research data on 10,000 participants comparing those with low vitamin D levels (less than 15 ng/mL) versus the highest levels (more than 50 ng/mL). Those with low levels were 64 percent more likely to have a heart attack, 40 percent more likely to develop ischemic heart disease, had a 57 percent increased risk of early death, and 81 percent more likely to die from heart disease.
Too much vitamin D?
The upper limit for vitamin D is set at 4,000 IUs per day. Intakes above this level are connected to elevated serum levels that increase risk for adverse health effects. Long-term intakes above the upper limit increases risk for cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack.
How to include vitamin D every day
Obtaining needed nutrients in your diet is always preferable to supplements. However, vitamin-D rich foods are limited. So, what can you do to ensure you receive 600 IU of vitamin D daily? Let’s navigate the grocery store to determine what departments and aisles to include on your shopping list for vitamin D rich foods.
Soy milk (check the label to ensure it is fortified)
Note: Most milk in the United States is fortified with vitamin D, but cheese and ice cream are not.
- Orange juice
Read the labels. Vitamin D content varies greatly between brands and types.
Look for mushrooms grown in ultraviolet light for increased vitamin D content.
- Cod liver oil
The best vitamin D source is outside.
Ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen allows your body to produce vitamin D. However, where you live impacts whether or not sunlight is adequate.
If you live above the 40th degree latitude (i.e. North of Denver, CO) sunlight is not adequate during January and February. If you live above the 42nd degree latitude (i.e. North of Chicago, IL) sunlight is not adequate between November and February.
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