Sunlight is the best natural source of vitamin D. Daily exposure to sunlight for 10-15 minutes provides all the required vitamin D. However, this may not be possible in cold countries. In that case, people can opt for dietary sources in order to fulfill the daily requirement of this vitamin.
Rich Sources of Vitamin D
It is often argued that the highest amount of vitamin D is obtained from animal based sources. This is true, but, also given here are some vegan options to consider.
Fish oil, specifically the cod liver oil, contains the maximum amount of vitamin D (more than 1000 IU in 3 ounces). Fish oil is easily available in stores, but, it is recommended to take it only after consulting the doctor. Fish liver oil is usually used as a supplement to treat deficiency of vitamin D. Many varieties of fish are also rich sources of this vitamin. Salmon (360IU), mackerel (340IU), herring (1300IU), sardines (250IU), tuna (200IU), etc., contain good amounts of vitamin D. Caviar, halibut, roe, shrimp, pilchards, oysters, etc., are some of the other seafood sources.
Milk and other dairy products rank second among foods containing vitamin D. Plain low-fat milk, fortified milk contains nearly 100IU of vitamin; whereas soy milk is a richer source, with nearly 120IU of vitamin D. Other dairy products like cheese, yogurt, butter, margarine, goat milk, etc., also contain vitamin D, but, in lesser quantity.
Other Animal Sources
Eggs do not contain as much vitamin D as fish, but, can still provide 40IU of it. Eggs also contain vitamin B12, vitamin A and proteins. It is recommended to have organic and fresh eggs to gain maximum benefits. Egg yolk, specifically, contains more nutrients than egg white. Beef liver, ham, salami, etc., contain little amounts of vitamin D.
You may not be aware, but, button and shiitake mushrooms are also good sources of vitamin D. Sun-dried mushrooms synthesize vitamin D and provide 25-100IU of it. These days, commercially-grown mushrooms are exposed to UV light so that vitamin D production starts in them. Fortified cereals, fortified orange juice, fortified rice, tofu, etc., are some of the other vegan options that can be considered.
Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D, also known as calciferol, is a fat-soluble vitamin that carries out several functions in the body. This vitamin is essential for normal functioning of cells in the body.
► It is required to carry out proper absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body.
► As it promotes calcium absorption, it aids in proper growth and development of bones.
► It also helps in strengthening teeth and bones.
► Secondly, benefits of vitamin D also include its use in enhancing the immune system, which consequently helps in reducing the risk of several diseases and infections.
► Vitamin D is required in very little amounts in our body. However, it is essential to fulfill the daily requirement of these vitamins to prevent deficiency diseases like rickets.
Vitamin D Dosage
The daily requirement of vitamin D for adults up to 50 years of age is 400-800IU. It is more in case of older people, and in pregnant and breastfeeding women. The doctor may prescribe further higher doses for those who suffer from vitamin D deficiency. All the required amounts can be obtained from the foods mentioned above. These foods are easily available, and hence, can be incorporated in the daily diet easily. Although there are vitamin supplements available in the market, they are to be taken only with the doctor's prescription or recommendation.
You can consult the doctor to check out your daily requirement of vitamin D. Including the aforementioned foods in your diet regularly can help in keeping deficiency diseases at bay. Take care!
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only. It is not to be substituted for medical consultation and advice.