New research shows that vitamin D—also called the sunshine vitamin—is responsible for a variety of health benefits including protection against diseases like cancer, Type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
How much Vitamin D do we need daily?
Most experts recommend that we need a minimum of 600 – 1000 I.U. of vitamin D daily. You may have higher individual needs of vitamin D based on where you live, weather (less sunlight), age (menopausal women may need higher doses) or certain risk factors for osteoporosis. Our bodies need sunlight in order to produce vitamin D.
A three ounce piece of grilled salmon has about 450 I.U. of vitamin D. You can boost the dose by buying salmon in the can with bones (about 900 I.U.). A similar serving of Atlantic herring has about 2000 I.U. of vitamin D. Grilled catfish will offer you a 1050 I.U. dose per serving. Other fish that offer significant doses of vitamin D include halibut, Steelhead trout, Mackerel and herring.
Traditional cow’s milk is fortified with vitamin D, as is non-fat powdered milk and canned evaporated skim milk. You can also buy soy milk, almond milk and other non-dairy milks fortified with vitamin D. Do read labels for precise amounts. Yogurts are also fortified with varying levels of vitamin D. Steer clear of those with added sugars and buy Greek-style for a bigger protein payoff.
Mushrooms offer several health benefits. The amount of vitamin D in mushrooms can vary, so read labels carefully. Recently, mushrooms treated with UV light have become more mainstream options at supermarkets, and can offer between 400-700 I.U. per serving. Add mushrooms to salads and soups, have a Portobello mushroom burger, and make sure to include mushrooms in your omelets (egg yolks have vitamin D too) and egg frittatas.
Do not fear tofu – embrace it. Tofu can have about 580 I.U. of vitamin D per serving. Cubed firm light tofu works well in soups and a stir fry. Silken tofu is perfect for creaming up soups or in smoothies. Remember that tofu acts like a sponge and has a mild taste, so just marinate it first before using in certain dishes.
Fish oil supplements
Most experts are comfortable recommending that you take a daily supplement daily to meet your vitamin D needs. Remember to take into consideration sunlight exposure and foods when trying to figure out how much vitamin D should be in that daily supplement.