Sun is not the only source of vitamin D
As hazy weather continues, one can choose fatty fish that live in cold waters like salmon and sardine to get the daily dose of vitamin D. - Photo by Juidin Bernarrd, Dhes Handumon
Dubai - The most vitamin D-rich foods are fatty fish that live in cold waters, like salmon and sardines.
The sun may be your best source of vitamin D, but when the usual sunny weather makes way for overcast and hazy skies as it has done for the past few days, there are other ways to boost those vitamin levels.
With around 80 per cent of the UAE's population likely to be deficient in vitamin D (according to a Dubai Health Authority (DHA) study in 2017), it is no secret that we need more of the stuff in our diets.
However, with a limited selection of vitamin D foods available, many of us simply aren't getting enough of this vital vitamin to be able to effectively meet our needs.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Zenia Menon, nutritionist & dietitian at Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre, said vitamin D is one of the most important micronutrients when it comes to your health.
"Well known for the regulation of calcium and phosphorus metabolism to maintain bone strength and development, it is also integral in playing an essential role in proper thyroid function, preserving a strong nervous system, regulating cardiac function and supporting the immune system."
The daily value of vitamin D is 10mcg (400IU). Therefore, if a food label says it has 25 per cent of the daily value, it means it has 2.5mcg (100IU) per serving. Vitamin D fortified soy, almond or rice milk normally has 2-3mcg (80-120IU) per cup, so they are all options that can be incorporated into the diet when the sun is hiding behind the clouds. But vitamin D supplements are one of the most common recommendations.
"Vitamin D is so important and so hard to readily absorb from food. Even an individual on a considerably healthy and balanced diet may need a vitamin D supplement. Some foods contain vitamin D, but unless eaten in large quantities daily, the total amounts absorbed don't usually reach the daily requirement. The most vitamin D-rich foods are fatty fish that live in cold waters, like salmon and sardines," Menon said.
Kimi Sokhi, nutritionist and corporate wellness manager in Dubai, said mushrooms are also an excellent source of Vitamin D2 and a great source of Vitamin D if you don't have a deficiency. And when the sun does come out, their nutritional value is increased even more. "In fact, mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight boosts their vitamin D2 levels. Just 15 minutes of direct sunlight can produce 200 to 800IU in three ounces of mushroomsn. At least 90 per cent of the vitamin is retained after storage and cooking. Leave them exposed to sunlight (even if it's indoors) for 15-30 minutes before cooking."
Make sure the body absorbs vitaminAdd enough healthy fats: Having an adequate amount of healthy fats in diet is crucial for proper functioning of vitamin D (cod liver oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, ghee, walnut and walnut oil, olive oil, pumpkin seed and oil, sunflower seeds and oil and avocado, nuts like almonds, pine nuts, seeds like sesame seeds).
Maintain healthy gut flora: Poor gastric health and food allergies/intolerances can cause binding of vitamin D in small intestine, rendering it totally unusable. Maintaining healthy gut flora by eating fermented foods and taking a probiotic regularly are helpful measures to promote full absorption of all nutrients, especially susceptible ones like vitamin D.
Vitamin D-rich foods>Wild-caught salmon
>Cod liver oil
>Portobello, chanterelle mushrooms
Combinations(Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D along with healthy fats)
> Mushrooms with kale and spinach with olive oil
> Salmon with spinach, broccoli and soy yogurt
> Avocado with kale salad
> Spinach salad with almonds, olive oil lemon dressing and sunflower seeds
> Tuna with bok choy or beet green with flax seeds and olive oil
> Avocado spread on a gluten-free toast
> Pine nuts on steamed broccoli and asparagus
> Olive oil drizzled on baked sweet potatoes
> Bok choy with kale, salmon, walnuts and flaxseed oil dressing
> Almonds and walnuts with soy yogurt for a snack