Vitamin D: must eat foods

Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D. However, between October and March, the shorter days, weaker sun and more time spent indoors means our vitamin D levels begin to fall.

Health experts at Forth*have compiled advice on how people can maintain their vitamin D levels this winter. Between the months of September and March, our levels of vitamin D will drop, but by eating the right foods and taking a supplement can help maintain optimal vitamin D levels.

A study carried out by Forth found that 74 per cent of their customers were in the lower quarter of the range or below for their vitamin D levels, with 27 per cent of customers who tested their vitamin D levels actually falling below the normal ranges. Forth’s study also identified that 77 per cent of female customers had inadequate vitamin D levels, compared to 72 per cent of male customers.

Vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy bones, teeth and muscles as we are growing but also as we get older. A lack of vitamin D in children can lead to rickets, while older adults, especially women, will be at greater risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis, especially post-menopause.
Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to more frequent colds and illness, low energy levels and even depression.

Foods rich in Vitamin D

• Egg Yolk -rich in vitamin D so worth incorporating eggs into your diet either as a breakfast option, or brunch.
• Oily Fish – trout, sardines, salmon and mackerel are all rich in vitamin D.
• Dairy products
Milk, cheese and yogurt are all good sources of vitamin D. Milk alternatives such as almond and soya milk are often fortified with vitamin D but check before buying.
• Meat – red meat, offal and liver are a good source of vitamin D, but eat as part of a balanced diet incorporating other leaner meats such as chicken and turkey.
Cod liver oil – one of the best supplements for vitamin D, cod liver oil is extremely rich in the nutrient, so much so that one tablespoon equates to the daily requirement of vitamin D.
Fortified foods – such as breakfast cereals, bread or soy milk are all great sources of the vitamin. This is because fortified foods have added nutrients making them the perfect supplement.
Tofu – fret not vegans and vegetarians, as fortified tofu offers an easy way of maintaining vitamin D. Nutrient levels can vary from brand to brand but fortified tofu remains a strong option for sourcing vitamin D.
• Oysters – considered a delicacy, the seafood is extremely rich in vitamin D. Oysters are also a great source of magnesium.

While ensuring our diets include food that contains vitamin D, as the main source is from sunlight, during winter months the NHS recommends that all adults take 10 micrograms of vitamin D supplement.

*Forth with Life: Home blood tests to check levels of Vitamin D (and other vital vitamins and nutrients).

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