Ways to get more vitamin D in your diet

Vitamin D has been deemed a wonder nutrient. Research has shown that vitamin D may help to strengthen bones, lower the risk of cancer, heart disease and depression, and even promote weight loss. While the Institute of Medicine recommends intakes of 600 international units (IU) a day of vitamin D for most Americans, many health experts recommend a higher dose: 1,000 to 2,000 IUs daily. Since food sources of vitamin D are somewhat limited, a supplement can help. Here are seven easy ways to get more D is your diet

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    Fatty Fish: Various types of fish are high in vitamin D. On average, a 3-ounce serving of fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, light canned tuna, herring, and sardines) contains 165 – 445 IUs of vitamin D.   Typically, raw fish (sushi) contains more vitamin D than cooked; fatty cuts will contain more than lean cuts; and fish canned in oil will have more vitamin D than those canned in water.  And don’t forget shellfish: shrimp and oysters are also good sources of vitamin D.
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    Shiitake Mushrooms

    Shiitake Mushrooms: Shiitakes—especially the sun-dried variety-- are one of the best vegan (as well as kosher) sources of vitamin D on the planet. When shiitake mushrooms are exposed to sunlight for two days, six hours per day, their vitamin D levels have been known to rise from 4 IU in one serving of raw mushrooms to 26 IU when dried.   More good news?  Shiitakes also contain several components shown to reduce cholesterol and boost immunity. Add 10 grams (a small handful) of re-hydrated shiitake mushrooms to your next stir-fry, soups, stews, or side dishes to increase both flavor and nutrients.
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    Fortify Your Breakfast:  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and can be the perfect meal to ensure your daily dose of vitamin D.  Many foods and beverages have vitamin D added to increase their nutrient density: skim and 1 percent fat milk have 117 IU per cup; fortified orange juices provide about 137 IUs per cut; and soy milk provides about 114 IUs per cup.   Many ready-to-eat cereals (like toasted oats, corn flakes, and crispy rice) are fortified with between 35-40 IU of vitamin D per 1 cup serving, and yogurt can be fortified with between 115-120 IUs per 1 cup serving. 
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    Eggs iStock

    Remember the Yolk:  When preparing or ordering eggs, don’t automatically default to the whites.  One large cooked egg provides 44 IU of Vitamin D, and because the yolk contains a significant amount of the vitamin (about 36 IU in a raw, fresh yolk) you should eat the entire egg to ensure you get the full amount of vitamin D available.  Eggs are also rich in protein, which will keep you feeling fuller longer. Boil some eggs at the beginning of each week and grab one in the mornings to add to your breakfast or lunch.
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    vitamins supplements

    Supplement with vitamin D:  Because food sources are limited, it’s a good idea to consider a vitamin D supplement. Look for a supplement with D3, the body’s preferred form of vitamin D. You can also include a multivitamin, which normally contains the suggested daily value of 400 IU.  As always, talk to your health care provider before taking a dietary supplement and choose a quality brand.
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    Sunlight:  Gazing at the sun – even on a cloudy day - delivers a nice dose of vitamin D. Just 15 minutes of sunlight on your hands can provide your daily allowance of 400 IU.  However, vitamin D produced from the sun varies depending on age, geography, and skin color, among other things.  Since too much sun can lead to skin cancer, wearing sun protection and minimizing sun exposure is generally recommended.  Talk to your health care provider about how much is right for you.
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    Cod Liver Oil:  Not a fish lover? Some cod liver oil may be the best source of vitamin D, packing in 1,360 IUs of vitamin D per tablespoon. Some of cod liver oil’s other benefits include the reduction of inflammation in your body, which may help prevent and manage inflammation-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis.   Remember to check labels: some forms of cod liver oil contain three times the daily amount of vitamin D needed.  Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin it is stored in the body; therefore, megadosing can lead to toxicity. As always, talk to your health care provider before taking a dietary supplement.
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