The Sunshine Vitamin: Can You Get Vitamin D From Food?

eggs contain vitamin D

credit: iStock photo

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble hormone that controls the expression of over 1,000 genes, is sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin. This is because our primary source is from exposure to the sun.

While your body does create vitamin D by exposing unprotected skin to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays of sunlight, the reality is that we spend more and more time indoors under artificial lighting.

Even when we do get more exposure the sun, many wear enough clothing or sunblock to decrease the production of vitamin D.

Understanding Vitamin D Deficiency

Research has linked lower levels of vitamin D to a variety of health issues, such as:

  • Decreased bone strength
  • Prostate cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Dementia
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Increased inflammation.

If you test your levels via a simple blood test, you’ll know exactly your current range of vitamin D and whether or not you’re deficient.

You’re aiming for a specific range when it comes to optimal health. Vitamin D insufficiency is often reported as < 30 ng/ml and deficiency as <20 ng/ml, but your optimal level, or “set point,” is different for everyone.

If you are looking to optimize your levels, one simple action you can take today to help increase your vitamin D to healthier levels is to adjust your diet. 

In addition to exposing unprotected skin to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays of sunlight, you can create vitamin D by eating foods high in vitamin D to absorb them into the intestines.

Foods to Help Your Vitamin D Levels

As detailed by the National Institutes of Health, food sources high in vitamin D include:

  • Cod liver oil 
  • Swordfish
  • Salmon (sockeye)
  • Tuna fish (canned, in water, drained)
  • Sardines (canned in oil, drained)
  • Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup
  • Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the DV for vitamin D
  • Liver, beef, cooked
  • Egg, 1 large (vitamin D is found in yolk)
  • Cheese, Swiss

Did you know: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is best absorbed when eaten with fat-containing foods or with a fat supplement like omega-3.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance, or RDA – the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%–98%) healthy individuals) –  is listed as 600 IU/15 mcg. 

What could a day of eating look like if you were to include a couple of these meals? 

  • Breakfast: 3 eggs scrambled in coconut oil or butter (123 IUs)
  • Lunch: 3 oz of Tuna salad on a bed of dark, leafy greens (154 IUs)
  • Dinner: 3oz Swordfish with a side of broccoli and sweet potatoes (566 IUs)

Snacks:

  • 6 oz. of fortified Yogurt topped with some almonds and fresh berries (80 IUs)
  • Grass-fed deli meat rolled up with a slice of swiss cheese and some avocado (6IUs)

Knowing Your Vitamin D Levels

Though your body needs vitamin D for basic function, there is the possibility of having too much vitamin D, which can actually reverse the beneficial effects and be detrimental to one’s health.

The optimal intake level is called a “set point,” which is different for everyone.

You can actually experiment to find your own vitamin D “set point” with periodic testing of the hs-CRP inflammation marker using varying levels of vitamin D supplementation.

If your health is at risk from low or too high vitamin D, you should talk with your doctor about how you can best optimize your levels.

A consultation with a WellnessFX practitioner can also provide you with a customized, actionable plan based on your health profile.

How WellnessFX Can Help

Did you know your blood cells regenerate every 120 days? An assessment via a biomarker testing, and then re-assessment every 4-6 months after instituting new habits, can help give  you an accurate picture of where your vitamin D (and total health) stand.

In addition to testing regularly and adjusting your diet, you can also adjust your outdoor habits or adjust with supplements. Many people can not get enough vitamin D on a regular basis from food sources alone though, so another option is to consider taking a vitamin D supplement.

We believe in the power in a drop of blood. Regularly testing your biomarkers will give you an accurate assessment of where you are now while starting the process of regularly monitoring your vitamin D levels to see how much you might need to improve.

Our Baseline panel includes a test for vitamin D in addition to advanced cardiovascular and lipid panels, liver and kidney health, inflammation, and more. If you’re just looking to test your vitamin D levels, this is our stand-alone package ($60) for that.

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The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.