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1 / 8 Get Your Daily Dose of D
While vitamin D has long been associated with bone health, it’s increasingly being linked to overall health and immunity, too. “Vitamin D is so important that our bodies have figured out a way to make it from sunlight,” says James Fleet, PhD, professor in the department of nutrition science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. In fact, people who don’t get enough vitamin D are at an increased risk of dying early, according to a 2014 analysis of more than 26,000 people published in the British Medical Journal. So exactly how much of the important nutrient should we be getting? Fleet says most adults need about 600 IU of vitamin D a day. In addition to getting your 15 minutes of sunlight, add these foods to the menu for an extra dose of the vitamin.
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2 / 8 Salmon
Three ounces of cooked salmon offers about 447 IU of vitamin D, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Add it to your dinner rotation with this flavorful, Dijon-based recipe. Other cold water fatty fish, like mackerel, sardines, and swordfish, also have similarly high levels of vitamin D, adds Kelly Pritchett, PhD, assistant professor of sports nutrition, clinical nutrition, and eating disorders at Central Washington University in Ellensburg.
3 / 8 Canned Tuna
Three ounces (oz) of canned tuna in water contains 154 IU of vitamin D. The cupboard staple is great for easy lunches like a classic tuna sandwich or tuna salad. Put a healthy twist on the deli favorite with this Artichoke and Ripe-Olive Tuna Salad recipe. Or include it on your dinner plate with a delicious comfort-food meal like this healthy tuna casserole with rigatoni.
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4 / 8 Mushrooms
While mushrooms don’t naturally offer up a high amount of vitamin D, some are treated with UV light, providing a larger dose of the nutrient as a result, Fleet says. The vitamin D will vary depending on the amount of UV light, according to the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA, but could offer between 400 and 700 IU. “You can find high-vitamin D mushrooms,” says Fleet, but you have to read the labels. Pritchett recommends adding sautéed mushrooms to your eggs or fish for a meal even richer in vitamin D. Or make a more substantial mushroom dish with these veggie-stuffed portobellos.
5 / 8 Fortified Milk
A cup of milk offers between 115 and 124 IU of vitamin D. Be sure to check the label of your favorite brand for the exact amount. Fortified plant-based milks, such as soy, can also offer some vitamin D, Pritchett adds. Enjoy a cold 8-oz glass of your preferred fortified milk straight up, blend it into a smoothie, or try something a little more fun like a seasonal pumpkin spice latte.
6 / 8 Fortified Orange Juice
One cup of fortified orange juice can add 137 IU of vitamin D to your daily total, although the Office of Dietary Supplements recommends checking the label for exact numbers, since counts can vary. Serve up a glass of OJ with breakfast or use it to whip up a delicious and portable morning meal with this mango-strawberry smoothie recipe.
7 / 8 Yogurt
Yogurt is a convenient, tasty snack — and reaching for a fortified variety will knock off between 10 and 30 percent of your daily value of vitamin D, depending on the brand. Many fortified varieties are flavored, which can pack a hefty dose of sugar, so it’s important to read labels and be conscious of levels. Try cooking a meal with yogurt for a vitamin D-enhanced entrée: This Middle Eastern-style chopped vegetable salad that includes greens, herbs, and grains also uses one cup of plain yogurt (like Stonyfield’s fortified variety) and offers a cooling alternative to a hot dish.
8 / 8 Fortified Cereal and Oatmeal
A packet of fortified oatmeal will add a solid dose of vitamin D to your diet; for example, Quaker Instant Oatmeal Nutrition for Women provides 154 IU per serving. Ready-to-eat fortified cereal typically gives you 40 IU of vitamin D per serving, but may offer more if you search out a more heavily fortified cereal, like Raisin Bran, which offers up 75 IU per ¾ cup. Fortified cereal can be a solid base for a nutrient-rich, high-fiber meal — especially if you add fortified milk to your bowl for an extra 60 IU per half cup. Or you can be more adventurous and make a breakfast cookie that includes both fortified cereal and vitamin D-fortified margarine.