Every single cell in our body has receptors for vitamin D making it arguably the most important vitamin for overall health, and with shorter days as the nights draw in it’s worth knowing how to keep levels topped up through winter.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone that is produced in our skin in response to sunlight and has a wide ranging effect on the body. Vitamin D helps to maintain bone density by encouraging the absorption of calcium, it supports the immune system and can have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect in autoimmune conditions like psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, it helps to protect nerve cells and support brain health, balance our sex hormones and plays a role in healthy digestion. However unlike most vitamins it is impossible to get enough through diet alone, here’s some nutritionist know how to help maintain your levels.
Top 10 tips to get more vitamin D
- Spend as much time as possible outdoors – not only is sunshine essential for vitamin D production but it helps to regulate our circadian rhythm and encourage healthy sleep. While it’s still light, walk the dog or go for a jog before breakfast, roll up your sleeves and eat lunch outside or enjoy an evening stroll before dinner.
- Make a habit of including a food source at every meal – try eggs for breakfast, tuna for lunch and salmon for dinner.
- Wild salmon – one fillet can contain up to 1000 IU (more than double our daily dose), although farmed salmon contains around half that.
- Dairy – cow’s milk is often fortified with vitamin D, it’s also found in butter, yoghurt and cheese, especially ricotta. Some alternative milks such as soya and nut milks are now also fortified.
- Eggs – you would need to eat around 20 per day(!) to achieve required levels but they also contain a wide range of other nutrients such as choline for a healthy brain and as a complete source of protein make a good addition to any diet.
- Tuna – 1 tin contains around half your daily vitamin D requirement, tinned sardines, mackerel and herring are also good sources.
- Meat – pork, lamb and offal contain the highest levels.
- Mushrooms – are the only plant source of vitamin D, they absorb sunlight much as we do. Choose wild or those grown outdoors and leave on your windowsill or anywhere in direct sunlight to increase vitamin D content.
- Fortified cereals – many cereals are fortified with vitamin D particularly those for children, but it’s important to be mindful of added sugars.
- Supplement with vitamin D3 from October to March or try fortified drinks such as Get More Vitamin D which provides your recommended daily allowance of 400 IU.