As New Englanders, we often hear about how people who live in our region have a tendency to be vitamin D deficient, especially after long winter months stuck indoors. Many of us need to take supplements to increase our vitamin D numbers to the appropriate levels. Some of us are lucky enough to get all of our needed intake through the sun and the healthy foods we enjoy eating. 

Last week we explored the role that magnesium plays in our health. This week, we are taking a closer look at the role of vitamin d to our health and what foods it can be naturally found in. 

Glazed Atlantic Pollock

What Is Vitamin D?

According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that has long been known to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus; both are critical for building bone. Also, laboratory studies show that vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth, help control infections, and reduce inflammation.”

Vitamin D has many roles within the human body including: controlling calcium absorption, supporting skeletal development, supporting healthy bone growth, increasing immune function, reducing depression, impacting metabolism and weight loss and many more. 

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin D for adults 19 years and older is 600 IU daily for men and women, and for adults >70 years it is 800 IU daily.

Where We Get Vitamin D

Since vitamin D is also referred to as the “Sunshine Vitamin,” it makes sense that exposure to ultraviolet rays can help the human body acquire and maintain a satisfactory amount of vitamin D. Unfortunately, for those of us living further from the equator, we need to increase our vitamin D intake through the foods we eat or in pill form. 

Since 94% of Americans are not getting enough vitamin D through exposure to the sun, we need to look elsewhere for our numbers to increase. Due to this, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s Scientific Report designates vitamin D as a “nutrient of public health concern.” 

Thankfully, there are many foods that are naturally high in vitamin D that can be added to the American diet. These include: fortified foods such as milk, cereal, yogurt, orange juice, etc. Additionally egg yolk, beef liver, and cod liver oil also add vitamin D to your diet. 

If you are looking for a delicious way to add vitamin D to your diet, without having to stand outside in the sun for hours on end or ingest cod liver oil, we suggest you try adding two servings of seafood, like salmon, swordfish, or tuna fish to regular menu items. Seafood is one of the few natural sources of vitamin D.

For more research and resources on studies regarding seafood and vitamin D intake check out the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study on seafood as an adequate source of vitamin D.