Vitamin D has most certainly been receiving its due recognition in nutrition headlines lately. In addition to helping us absorb calcium to protect bone mass, vitamin D is required for muscle and nerve function, and it also plays a key role in our immune systems. Maintaining good vitamin D status may help prevent colorectal cancer, and large studies are underway to investigate other types of cancer.
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because our bodies have the ability to make vitamin D when unprotected skin is exposed to the sun. But since too much unprotected sun exposure carries its own health risks, seeking out foods rich in vitamin D is a good strategy. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are excellent sources, and eggs are considered a good source. Many foods are fortified with vitamin D, including milk, yogurt, orange juice, soy milk, and cereal – so check the label when comparing products. Mushrooms have the ability to absorb UV light and produce vitamin D, and you will see some mushrooms labeled as such.
In my house we love salmon, which provides potassium, iron, B vitamins, plus half of your daily needs for vitamin D. Incorporating salmon into familiar family meals is a great way to bring it into regular rotation, and this kid-friendly recipe for a creamy salmon pasta dish fits the bill.
Some doctors will routinely check vitamin D with regular blood work at annual well visits, and it is important to know your levels and discuss with your doctor before supplementing with vitamin D.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. What is Vitamin D? Eatright.org website. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/vitamin-d. Published June 15, 2015. Accessed March 14, 2016.
American Cancer Society. Common Questions About Diet and Cancer. cancer.org website. http://www.cancer.org/healthy/eathealthygetactive/acsguidelinesonnutritionphysicalactivityforcancerprevention/acs-guidelines-on-nutrition-and-physical-activity-for-cancer-prevention-common-questions. Updated February 5, 2016. Accessed March 12, 2016.