Vitamin D is an essential nutrient in your body that is needed for vital functions such as building strong bones, heart health, and your immune system. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a loss of bone density, which can contribute to osteoporosis and bone fractures. Severe vitamin D deficiency can also lead to other diseases.
Regular sun exposure is the most natural way to get enough vitamin D. To maintain healthy blood levels, aim to get 10–30 minutes of midday sunlight, several times per week. People with darker skin may need a little more than this. Your exposure time should depend on how sensitive your skin is to sunlight.
However, over time, excessive sun exposure can cause UV damage and take a toll on your skin and its underlying connective tissue. As a result, your skin may also develop more wrinkles and lines. Too much sun exposure can also raise your risk for skin cancer - the most common type of cancer in North America.
Low vitamin D intake is a major health concern, as 42% of the U.S. population are vitamin D deficient. Here are five ways to get vitamin D without risking excessive sun exposure this summer!
Take Vitamin D Supplements
Taking a supplement is one of the easiest ways to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of vitamin D. Countries like the United States do not regulate nutritional supplements, so make sure you are purchasing high quality supplements that have been independently tested.
Consume Fatty Fish & Seafood
Fatty fish and seafood are a natural way to consume vitamin D as certain species contain different amounts. For example, a farmed salmon may contain less vitamin D than a wild caught salmon. Fish and seafood that are rich in vitamin D are tuna, mackerel, oysters, shrimp and sardines.
Eat Fortified Foods
Fortified foods are foods that have micronutrients added to them. This is because few foods naturally contain substantial amounts of vitamin D. Cow’s milk, orange juice, cereal and certain types of yogurts are common fortified foods.
Try Wild Mushrooms
Did you know that mushrooms are one of the few vegetarian sources of vitamin D? Like humans, mushrooms produce vitamin D from UV light. Wild mushrooms contain higher amounts of vitamin D than commercially grown mushrooms. When consuming wild mushrooms, do be cautious because many species are poisonous – get from a reputable source.
Add Egg Yolks to Your Diet
Pasture or free-range chickens are an excellent source of vitamin D because they have access to sunlight. Their eggs contain more vitamin D than chickens that are raised indoors. Chickens raised indoors only contain about five percent of the recommended dietary intake. Chickens raised outside contain up to twenty percent of the RDI.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), exposing your face, arms, legs or back to sunlight for 5–30 minutes twice a week — without sunscreen — is usually sufficient to generate optimal vitamin D levels but we know that’s not always an option as the seasons change and you want to protect your skin from too much exposure as well. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient, and many people struggle to get enough of it. We hope these five tips help you safely receive adequate amounts of vitamin D!