With all the nutritional information floating around on the Internet, Food With Vitamin D And C sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s credible and what’s not. Which is why I’ve written a blog post introducing foods that contain Vitamin D and C.
How to Get More Vitamin D From Your Food
Vitamin D is an essential component of health. This hailed vitamin is most famously responsible for bone health, but some data suggests this vitamin may also play a role in protecting you from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and even depression.
And vitamin D deficiency is no joke. It can cause osteoporosis, osteomalacia, brittle bones and increase your risk of fractures. A lack of vitamin D can even affect your immune and nervous system.
Luckily, sunlight (in moderation), supplements and food sources can help get your numbers up to where they should be.
“Many people are able to meet their daily requirement of vitamin D from sun exposure and a balanced diet,” says registered dietitian Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDE. “But certain groups of people are more likely to develop a deficiency.”
Those most at risk for vitamin D deficiency include:
- Older adults.
- People with limited sun exposure.
- People who are obese or who have had gastric bypass surgery.
- Those with dark skin.
- Infants who are exclusively breastfed without vitamin D supplementation.
- People with certain digestive diseases that result in malabsorption.
For most children and adults, about 600 international units per day is recommended, however it can range up to 4,000 international units per day depending on health needs. (Most supplements offer about 2,000 international units of vitamin D per pill.)
Vitamin D: Whole foods vs. fortified foods
Fortified foods are meant to help boost vitamin and mineral intake. They’re designed to add nutrients that don’t naturally occur in the product. Sometimes iron, fiber, zinc or vitamin A is added. For instance, most milk is fortified with vitamin D and calcium is sometimes added to orange juice.
“Since so few foods found in nature are good sources of vitamin D, fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D found in the American diet,” explains Taylor.
But she warns that some fortified foods can contain added ingredients that make the product less healthy, like sugar or hydrogenated fats. Cow’s milk and most plant alternative milks are typically fortified with vitamin D, but it’s important to look for products with no added sugar.
Many types of yogurt and cereal are also fortified with vitamin D, but could contain excessive added sugar or saturated fat. Margarine is often fortified as well, but some products contain partially hydrogenated oils, which should be avoided. Read labels to choose the best product for your family.
Vitamin D foods
One of the best ways to get enough vitamin D in your diet is to eat a variety of healthy foods from all of the food groups, including some fortified foods. Also aim for about 15 minutes of mid-day sun exposure at least twice per week.
Foods that provide vitamin D include:
International units per serving.
- Beef liver (cooked). 3 ounces: 42 IU.
- Cereal, fortified with 10% of the daily value of vitamin D. 0.75 to 1 cup: 40 IU.
- Cod liver oil. 1 tablespoon: 1360 IU.
- Egg yolk. 1 large egg: 41 IU.
- Margarine, fortified. 1 tablespoon: 60 IU.
- Milk, fortified. 1 cup: 115-124 IU.
- Orange juice, fortified. 1 cup: 137 IU.
- Salmon (sockeye, cooked). 3 ounces: 447 IU.
- Sardines (canned in oil, drained). 2 sardines: 46 IU.
- Swiss cheese. 1 ounce: 6 IU.
- Swordfish (cooked). 3 ounces: 566 IU.
- Tuna (canned in water, drained). 3 ounces: 154 IU.
- Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the daily value of vitamin D. 6 ounces: 80 IU.
Product Talk: Health Benefits of Vitamin D & C
Oh gloriously sunny days are getting shorter! Spending more time inside, means that it is time to stay focused on eating fresh and delicious fruits and veggies because we know that they don’t just make us feel better in the warmer months – they are essential to make our bodies work better, longer, from the inside out all winter long. And it’s thanks to Vitamins C+D.
To learn more we checked in with our friend and Naturopathic Doctor Shelby Entner.
Why do we feel lighter and more energetic in the spring and summer?
We can thank Vitamin D for that…it’s called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ for good reason. In the winter – because there’s less sunshine and fewer daylight hours, because we bundle up, and stay inside – we can feel blue and lethargic. That’s because we’re not getting enough Vitamin D. All those things get in the way of soaking in Vitamin D’s goodness. A professor of mine once said that unless we are living in a bikini at the equator, we are not getting enough!
So what does Vitamin D do for us, and what happens if we don’t get enough over time?
Our bodies need Vitamin D to absorb and regulate the calcium and phosphorus that create and maintain strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D also regulates insulin levels, supports our immune brain and nervous systems; our genes, muscles (including the heart) and lungs to function well. When we don’t get enough we compromise those functions and, research tells us, increase our risk of depression, heart disease and cancer. Adults can also develop osteoporosis, and children, rickets.
What’s the best way to make sure we get enough?
Because we live in a northern climate, and food doesn’t have the nutrition it did 100 years ago, it’s important to be mindful about getting enough. Natural sources like the sun, and eating Vitamin D-rich whole foods are your best bet.
Go outside for at least 15 minutes every day.
Expose as much of your skin as possible to direct sunlight. No sunscreen, sunblock or shade – even clouds and clothing prevent absorption of vitamin D. If you’re concerned about sun exposure, mid-to-late afternoon is best.
Eat Vitamin D-rich foods:
- Cold water fish (salmon, tuna), fish oil, liver, cheese and egg yolks
- Maitake and portabello mushrooms
- D-fortified foods like cow, soy and almond milk and cereals.
Can you take too much?
Vitamin D is fat soluble, which means it accumulates in your fat. If you take too much, your body can’t clear it easily, and calcium levels will be affected, which in turn impacts your heart and blood vessels, lungs and kidneys. You may experience headaches, muscle pain, a metallic taste in your mouth, nausea or vomiting, constipation or diarrhea.
What about supplements?
I highly recommend supplements because many of us just don’t eat properly. My preference is an easily absorbed liquid fish oil supplement, which is great for kids, too. Many come in flavours like lemon, raspberry and orange. Look for one that is ethically fished and screened for toxicity. I consider Vitamin one of my Top 3 essential supplements, along with B vitamins and Omega 3s.
How much you need depends on your age, weight, lifestyle, if you are pregnant, or taking certain medications, so it’s always good to check with a professional to make sure you are getting the right amount. Generally, kids need 1000 IUs a day and adults need 2000 IUs. Your family doctor can do a simple Vitamin D test, which costs about $60, and is worth every penny because too little, or too much, affects so much.
Let’s talk about Vitamin C. What does it do for us?
Vitamin C – or ascorbic acid – has so many benefits. It keeps our cells healthy – including collagen, the structural protein that keeps our tendons, ligaments and blood vessels, organs and skin together. It’s one of the best antioxidants to reduce the effect of free radicals. (No wonder it’s now used in topical anti-aging creams!)
Vitamin C also strengthens the cardiovascular and immune systems, helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and helps with the absorption of iron. It’s wise to eat Vitamin C and iron-rich foods – or take those two in supplement form, together.
And whole, fresh, organic sources are best, right?
Absolutely! Choose fruit and veggies with bright colours – like oranges, broccoli, peppers, dark leafy greens, blueberries, cantaloupe and red peppers.
How much do we need?
The minimum recommended daily allowance is 500-1000 IUs depending on your weight.
Is there such as thing as not enough and too much – and how would we know?
Because Vitamin C is water-soluble, the body can easily flush out what it doesn’t need, so having too much is usually not an issue. It could, however, irritate your stomach or give you diarrhea. But not getting enough can have far-reaching consequences:
- Cell degeneration – easy bruising, and difficulty healing and warding off infections
- Accelerated aging of your hair, skin and teeth – bleeding gums, dry skin, dull hair and nosebleeds.
- A compromised immune system – vulnerable to colds and flu, cataracts and macular degeneration, scurvy and cancer. Intravenous Vitamin C therapy is now used as a treatment for cancer and allergies.
If we don’t eat well enough what kind of supplements are best?
A buffered Vitamin C is better. Because ascorbic acid can be hard on the stomach, it is mixed – or buffered – with potassium, calcium and magnesium to make it easier to digest. Capsule, powdered or chewable form is fine.
Did You Know?
- Vitamin D deficiency is most common in infants, the elderly, dark-skinned people, or those who live at higher latitudes
- Up to 80% of hip fracture patients have a Vitamin D deficiency
- An SPF 30 sunscreen reduces Vitamin D synthesis by 95%
- Smoking lowers the ability to absorb Vitamin C
- A higher intake of fruits and veggies means you also get more phytonutrients, fiber and other vitamins and minerals
- Storage and cooking reduces the potency of any vitamin – eat fresh and raw for the full benefit.