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The Best Vitamin D Rich Snack Foods
Many of us are not getting the recommended amount of vitamin D, either in our diet or outside in the sunlight, thanks to sunscreen and lives spent increasingly indoors. Since a lack of this vitamin has been linked with illnesses ranging from osteoporosis and rickets to depression, PMS, and even cancer, it behooves us all to ensure we are getting as much vitamin D in our diet as we can – up to 50 mcgs for adults and 25 mcgs for infants. Talk with your doctor before exceeding these limits, since vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin.
While vitamin D is available in supplement form, most people absorb it better when ingested as a part of the diet. Vitamin D can also be made naturally through sun exposure, but if your skin is dark or you regularly use sunscreen (as you should), you are most likely not benefiting from the full benefits of the sun. Where can you find vitamin-d rich foods? Well, few foods naturally contain vitamin d – few snack items, that is – but there are many products that are fortified with vitamin D.
Egg yolks. They contain a whopping 18.3 IUs of vitamin D. The whites contain no vitamin D, so if you generally whip up an egg white omelet or discard the yolk when eating eggs, you won’t get the benefits of all the vitamin D contained in the egg. Boil some eggs for a quick, on-the-go healthy snack or whip up some egg salad with fat-free mayo and Dijon mustard for a tasty sandwich (bread is also often fortified with vitamin D!).
Fortified milk. Cow, goat, and soy milk can all be fortified with vitamin D, but do check the label to make sure your favorite brand is. Add some frozen berries, a bit of sweetener (honey works wonderfully), and a splash of vanilla for a yummy smoothie.
Fortified cheeses and yogurts. Not all are fortified, so check the label. String cheese or a cup of yogurt can be a quick, healthy snack filled with protein, calcium, and, of course, vitamin D.
Calcium fortified juices. Juices that have added calcium will also have added vitamin D to aid in absorption. Look for 100% juices, rather than fruit drinks, and double check the label to ensure it is fortified with both calcium and vitamin D. Juice adds more calories to your diet than does fruit, so use sparingly.
Cereal. Many breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D. Take some dry for a quick and easy healthy snack, or add a splash of milk for a double dose of vitamin D and a yummy breakfast or snack.
Note that not all milks, cheeses, yogurts, juices, and bread products are fortified with vitamin D. Check on the label to make sure that your chosen product or brand is indeed fortified. And while you’re checking, look also at the nutrition label – just because something is fortified, doesn’t mean it contains the full daily requirement. Add up your vitamin D from all sources to maximize the benefit of the sunshine vitamin.
Even if you don’t think you are vitamin D deficient, you may still be. Because I am obviously extremely fair skinned, and I spend a bit of time outdoors every day for a few minutes without sunscreen, I assumed my vitamin D levels were fine. However, after my doctor recommended adding supplemental vitamin D foods to my diet, I tried it, and my usually horrible PMS didn’t arrive one month. No, I wasn’t pregnant. The added vitamin D reduced my symptoms to the point that I wasn’t even aware of them. I’m now a believer, and you will be too.