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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Get Your Vitamin D

Vitamin DVitamin D is one of the essential nutrients known for its role in maintaining healthy bones by helping calcium to be absorbed, but it’s been connected recently to reducing risk of a variety of diseases (heart, certain cancers, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and more).

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because our bodies are able to synthesize it from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. In order to get it from the sun, you need at least 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure (without wearing sunscreen) on large body parts a few times each week to avoid deficiency. Are you getting enough vitamin D daily?

Today, it is believed that about half of all adults and 70 percent of children are deficient in vitamin D. Factors that affect how much vitamin D our bodies produce include:

  • latitude (if you live north of Atlanta you can get bioavailable vitamin D from the sun between October and May)
  • cloud coverage
  • ethnicity (the darker your skin, the harder to get vitamin D from sun)
  • time of day
  • if you’re wearing sunscreen: The more sunscreen and the greater SPF you apply, the less vitamin D is produced. Since the sun isn’t great for our skin (skin cancer risk), it’s better to get it in the diet or supplement form. Turn to vitamin D rich foods to increase your vitamin D daily!

Vitamin D is found in the following sources:

  • cod liver oil
  • fatty fish (herring, salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines)
  • egg yolks
  • dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
  • certain mushrooms
  • fortified cereals and juices

Click here for a complete list of the vitamin D content of foods.

Look for these foods for more Vitamin D:

  • Eggland’s Best eggs: These eggs have three times the amount of omega 3s as normal eggs as well as twice the amount of vitamin D as a normal egg.
  • Country crock calcium + vitamin D: This margarine is fortified with 20 percent of your daily value of vitamin D as well as 10 percent of your calcium needs for the day. It has 70 percent less saturated fat than butter, no trans fat, and no hydrogenated oils.
  • Portabella mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light: Like our skin, they can produce vitamin D naturally when exposed to UV light!
  • Milk: Milk has 100 IU of vitamin D in one glass.

To know whether you are deficient, you can get your blood level checked with your doctor, or through http://www.grassrootshealth.net. If you are deficient, you definitely want to take a supplement of Vitamin D3. Even though the RDA is 600 IU, I recommend taking 1000 IU for everyone because of the excellent research recently connecting vitamin D to protection against various diseases besides bone health. It’s a small pill, so it’s easy to swallow. 

If your blood level is less than 50 ug/dl, you may want to take more than 1000 IU per day. A rule of thumb: It takes about 1000 IU to raise your blood level 10 ug/dl.

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Tags: Healthy Eating , Healthy Fats

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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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