This well-known sunshine vitamin is a great reason to get outside during the warm seasons, but falls short during winter months when the days are shorter and the sun isn’t able to get high enough in the sky. This is the main reason most of us, especially in the northern states, become vitamin D deficient in the winter. 

Let’’s take a closer look at this vitamin and see why it’s so important to maintain all year round. What you may not know about vitamin D is that it functions like a hormone in the body and binds to vitamin D receptors present in almost every cell in the human body, affecting tons of chemical reactions. Our bodies make it after our skin is exposed to sunlight, but when the sun is scarce we quickly become deficient. Being vitamin D deficient can take a toll on your immune health leading to frequent colds, respiratory infections, inflammation and the flu. 

Vitamin D is also important in calcium absorption which directly affects blood, muscle and bone health. One of the reasons this is a common vitamin deficiency is because very few foods naturally contain this vitamin. Check out these top sources and try to include a variety of these foods every day to meet the daily requirement.  The daily recommendation for vitamin D is 600 IU or 15 mcg. 

-Flesh of wild caught fatty fish- Salmon, Tuna, Herring, Mackerel 3oz= 500-800 IUs 

-Canned Sardines 3.75oz= 250 IUs 

-Cod Liver Oil 1Tbl=1,350 IUs 

-1 Large Egg= 41 IUs -Beef Liver 3oz=42 IUs 

-Mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light:

  • Maitake 1 cup=786 IUs
  • Morel 1 cup=136 IUs
  • Chanterelle 1 cup= 114 IUs
  • Oyster 1 cup= 25 IUs
  • Shiitake 4 mushrooms= 23 IUs

-Fortified Orange Juice 1 cup= 137 IUs 

-Fortified Milk 1 cup= 120 IUs 

-Fortified Yogurt 6oz=80 IUs 

-Fortified Cereal 1 cup=40 IUs 

Mushroom and Salmon

For some, food sources may not be enough at which a supplement is recommended. Just be sure to choose the biologically active D3 form and stay below the upper limit of 10,000 IU/day for adults. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means we store it in our liver and body fat, so it can accumulate faster than our bodies have the opportunity to use it if taken in too high of doses. Some positive health benefits you may notice when your vitamin D levels are sufficient are reduced occurrence of illness, decreased delayed muscle soreness following exercise & a better mood!