Sunshine vitamin

Fix Your Plate by Tara Reeves

In a world where the sun’s warmth and light play a crucial role in sustaining life, it’s concerning that up to 50 percent of the global population may lack an adequate supply of a nutrient generously provided by the sun—vitamin D.

Consider vitamin D as a vital player in your body’s functions. Beyond its role in promoting bone health, this essential nutrient manages the immune system, regulates inflammation, and influences cell growth and glucose metabolism. 

The deficiency in this sunshine nutrient affecting a significant portion of the global population is attributed to modern lifestyles. Increased indoor activities, extensive use of sunscreen, and diets often deficient in vitamin D contribute to this widespread concern.

Now, let’s explore the various avenues of obtaining vitamin D without solely relying on sunlight. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna are recognized for their vitamin D content, providing a great option for those who love seafood. Eggs, particularly the yolk, are also a notable source of vitamin D.

Mushrooms deserve a special mention because they are a great source of vitamin D but they are also packed with other beneficial nutrients, qualifying them as superfoods. Mushroom fun fact: when exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet light during growth, mushrooms can naturally synthesize vitamin D. This unique quality makes them a valuable addition to everyone’s diet. 

Cremini, portobello, oyster and enoki mushrooms are great for cooking and are easy to add to a variety of meals. Sauteed mushrooms are likely the easiest way to consume them but grilled portobellos make a great burger patty substitute due to their ‘meaty’ texture. Oyster mushrooms also have a hearty texture and are so delicious when battered and air fried. Enoki mushrooms are popular in Asian cuisines and make a great addition to dishes like ramen or stir fries. Reishi, cordyceps and lion’s mane mushrooms are great as supplements, in their powdered forms and are easy to add into smoothies.

Fortified foods play a crucial role in providing vitamin D, especially for those who may have limited sun exposure. Tofu often comes fortified with vitamin D, offering a nutritious option for those following vegetarian or vegan diets. Oatmeal can be found enriched with vitamin D, providing a wholesome and fortified start to the day. Many brands of orange juice are fortified with this essential vitamin, as well. Additionally, various cereals, both hot and cold varieties, are commonly fortified with vitamin D.

While food is fantastic, let’s not forget the original supplier—the sun. Your skin is like a solar panel for vitamin D production. All it takes is five to thirty minutes of sunlight exposure between 10 am and 3 pm to charge up your internal vitamin D battery. However, this can vary based on factors like skin tone and location.

In essence, vitamin D is indispensable for your overall health. With a focus on both food sources and sun exposure, you can ensure an adequate intake of this crucial nutrient. Whether through fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms, or fortified foods, these options provide flexibility for diverse dietary preferences. Embrace the variety offered by these sources to maintain optimal vitamin D levels, contributing to your overall well-being.