It’s a fact. Bad things happen to your health and well-being when you don’t have sufficient levels of vitamin D in your system. Even though our bodies manufacture vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight, many of us don’t get enough exposure to maintain healthy levels of this important vitamin. As many as half of everyone living in the United States may be deficient when it comes to vitamin D. The list of benefits associated with healthy levels of vitamin D may be too long to list but it’s well-established that it helps keep bones healthy, ward of depression, boost your immune system and aid weight loss, to name just a few.
While anyone can buy vitamin D supplements to boost their levels, it’s often better to get the vitamins you need naturally by selecting the right foods. Here are 8 foods that are rich in vitamin D.
1. Sharp Cheddar Cheese
While many of us have probably been conditioned to look for low-fat versions, it may not always be the best choice. In this case, sharp cheddar has more than 10 times the amount of vitamin D than the low-fat version. Since the sharp variety has more flavor, you are likely to eat less of it. As an added bonus an ingredient called butyrate may even help you lose weight. Each half-cup serving contains 12 IU of Vitamin D.
2. Egg Yolks
Where eggs are concerned, it’s the yolk that is the nutritional jackpot. Almost half an egg’s protein content is found in the yolk as well as B vitamins, antioxidants and of course, vitamin D. If you opt for the free-range eggs, you’ll be getting the maximum vitamin D that eggs can offer. Egg yolks contain about 40 IU of vitamin D for a typical large egg.
3. Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Granted, mushrooms are not on everyone’s list of favorite treats, but for those who savor them, they benefit due to the fact that they contain a very generous supply of vitamin D. In addition to that, they also boast ingredients that help fight viruses and may help prevent cancer. They might also help lower cholesterol. Three ounces of these have a whopping 154 IU of vitamin D.
4. Chanterelle Mushrooms
If you’re a mushroom lover you might feel like today is your lucky day! These look quite a bit different than the traditional white “button”-type mushrooms you can find in just about any grocery store, but these have 30 times more vitamin D than their more traditional cousins. Chanterelle mushrooms are also an excellent source of important nutrients like iron, niacin, potassium and fiber! Three ounces of Chanterelles have an incredible 212 IU of vitamin D.
It’s no surprise that not everyone considers these small, silvery fish a delicacy, but if you’re one of those folks that loves to crack a can of these now and then, it might interest you to know that you are giving your vitamin D levels a nice boost. Sardines have less mercury in them than a lot of other species and they are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Three average sized sardines have 219 IU of vitamin D.
If you are beginning to get the idea that fish is a great source for vitamin D, you are on the right track! Although tuna has gotten somewhat of a bad rap through the years as a product that contains dangerous mercury, that’s not true for all of it. Look for the light varieties if you want to maximize the D content. Tuna also delivers a dose of the important nutrient selenium. Three ounces of tuna has 229 IU of vitamin D.
7. Morel Mushrooms
These are probably a bit more commonplace than the Chanterelle mushrooms mentioned previously and may be easier to find. Morels also provide a lot of iron with as much as 8 grams in just a cup, which is nearly half the recommended daily dose. Morel mushrooms have 212 IU of vitamin D in each 3-ounce serving.
8. Canned Sockeye Salmon
If the other entries on this list can be considered vitamin D superstars, this one is a supernova! Buying salmon by the can not only saves money but also may reduce the risk of mercury exposure since smaller fish are less likely to accumulate mercury and smaller salmon are more likely to be used for canning. Salmon is loaded with body-boosting protein and weighs in with an amazing 718 IU of vitamin D in a 3-ounce serving!