5 Best Foods for Body-Boosting Vitamin D
By Dana Leigh Smith
You load up on calcium to keep your bones healthy and strong—but did you know that not getting enough vitamin D makes it near-impossible to reap all of the mineral’s health-boosting benefits?
It’s true! But that’s not the only reason you should up your intake of vitamin D. Besides keeping brittle bones at bay, the nutrient also fights depression and colds, reduces the risk of certain cancers, diminishes inflammation and even wards off erectile dysfunction, according to a Journal of Sexual Medicine report. Talk about a multitasker.
So how can you ensure you’re getting enough of the vitamin? Your body produces D whenever your skin is directly exposed to sunlight. That’s why it’s often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” But because prolonged exposure to the sun isn’t safe, it’s smart to add vitamin D-rich foods to your diet. This ensures you’ll hit the daily recommended 600 IUs without getting a painful sunburn—or worse.
We’ve found the five best food sources of the vitamin and ranked them in order of potency. Next time you visit the supermarket, be sure to grab a few of these healthy picks.
Vitamin D content: Per 4 oz. serving: 24 IUs
Besides providing nearly 7 percent of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin D, pork loin is a great source of muscle-building lean protein. Plus, it can add some pizazz to a chicken- and beef-filled weekly dinner lineup. Never prepared the meat before? No problem: our Pork Loin and Potatoes recipe is delicious, healthy and super-simple to make.
Vitamin D content: Per egg: 40 IUs
If you’re an avid Eat This, Not That! reader, you likely know we’re big fans of whole eggs. The yolk may add some extra calories and fat to your plate, but it also contains a host of fat-blasting and health-boosting nutrients—including vitamin D. In fact, a three-egg omelet serves up 20 percent of the daily D requirement. We suggest adding some veggies to the mix for an added boost of flavor and nutrients.
Vitamin D content: Per cup: 41-114 IUs
Speaking of veggies, a cup of mushrooms provides up to 19 percent of the day’s D requirement, making them the best source of vitamin D in the produce aisle. They’re an excellent addition to omelets, stir-frys, salads and tacos. Check out our Soft Veggie Chicken Tacos recipe to see how we use the vegetable in the Tex-Mex-inspired dish. It only takes 15 minutes to whip up!
Vitamin D content: Per cup: 116 IUs
Although cow’s milk isn’t naturally rich in vitamin D, in America it’s commonly fortified with the nutrient. To best absorb the D—and the full alphabet of nutrients listed on the carton—opt for 1 percent over skim. It’s well worth the calories, because vitamins A, D, E, and K need fat to be absorbed. One cup provides more than 19 percent of the day’s recommended D intake.
Vitamin D content: Per 3 oz.: 547- 582 IUs
Coming in at the top of our list is wild salmon and mackerel—and it’s easy to see why. Just one three-ounce serving provides nearly all of the daily recommended vitamin D intake. Bonus: Both varieties of fish are brimming with heart-protecting, fat-frying omega-3s and can help ward off breast and prostate cancers by up to 50 percent, according to Harvard and University of California San Diego researchers. To learn more about foods that can protect you from the big C, check out 7 Foods That Fight Cancer.