In our protein packed, low carb crazed society we often neglect the importance of vitamins and minerals to our bodies’ crucial systems. In the winter months we can be at risk for lower Vitamin D levels since sunlight helps our skin naturally make it. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin important for our immune system, muscle and nerve function, and more notably, for aiding absorption of calcium and phosphorus to have strong bones and teeth. Peak bone mass is typically reached in women in their early 20s and in men by age 30. To combat the gradual decline of bone density which occurs as we age, a lifestyle rich in calcium and Vitamin D is critical.
Natural food sources of Vitamin D are few and far between:
- Fatty fish like salmon and tuna
- Egg yolks and cheese
- Mushrooms if grown under UV lights
Fortified products like cow’s milk, some cereals and soymilk are also sources. You may consider subbing in salmon a couple nights per week or having tuna salad made with plain Greek yogurt for lunch. For breakfast, consider adding mushrooms into an egg scramble or making mason jar overnight oats with a 1:1 ratio of rolled oats to low fat cow’s milk or light soymilk. Vegans and those who do not consume dairy products may be at higher risk of low Vitamin D levels. So if none of these foods tickle your fancy, perhaps you would benefit from taking a daily Vitamin D supplement and increasing sunlight exposure. Get away from your work desk and try to spend a few minutes outside during your lunch break!
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By Caroline Pope, MS, RD, LDN, Co-Owner of Chain Effect