Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin”. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires fat for absorption.
While this micronutrient is essential to health, there are very few foods that naturally contain optimal levels of vitamin D. This is why it is often found in fortified foods and supplements. However, as you’ll see in our gathered list below, there are still many Paleo foods rich in vitamin D that can be incorporated into your diet daily.
In addition to these foods, one of the best ways to obtain vitamin D is through sun exposure. When the sun’s rays hit the cholesterol in your skin, vitamin D is created. This is also one natural way of regulating cholesterol levels besides boosting vitamin D status, which is another reason we love this micronutrient.
Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for your health as it plays a role in so many functions. Research is continually revealing new functions for this nutrient.
Although vitamin D is truly a vitamin, it acts more like a hormone since the body can create it from sunlight and cholesterol. It should be noted that the health of the liver and kidneys is vitally important to vitamin D production as these organs are responsible for converting vitamin D into a bioavailable form the body can use.
Vitamin D health benefits include, but are not limited to:
*Boosting immune system function
*Preventing cardiovascular disease
*Reducing blood pressure
*Reducing risk of many cancers
*Preventing against autoimmune disorders
*Promoting bone mineralization and supporting bone structure
*Regulating over 2,000 genes and cellular processes
*Improving muscle function
*Helping with weight management
Eggs are nature’s multivitamin rich in all the essential amino acids, micronutrients and healthy fats. Vitamin D is found abundantly in the yolk of the egg. Research revealed that pasture-raised eggs from chickens that roam in the sunlight contain 3-4 times higher levels of vitamin D than non-free range chickens. Free-range chickens are one of the best sources of dietary vitamin D. Another reason why we love free-range farming.
Fatty fish like salmon are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, protein…and vitamin D! Choose wild-caught salmon for a healthy source of vitamin D any day of the week. Research revealed that farmed salmon was found to have 25% less vitamin D than wild-caught, which is another reason to go wild. We suggest eating salmon and other fatty fish at least four times per week for cardiovascular health and achieving desired vitamin D levels. Just 3 oz. of Wild Planet canned salmon contains 90% of the daily value of vitamin D.
Small, fatty fish such as sardines are another great source of vitamin D. In fact, canned sardines from Wild Planet contain about 50% of your daily value of vitamin D per 3 oz. serving. Go fish. Swap your traditional fish for sardines. Eat a can of sardines with an avocado for a hearty and healthy, easy-to-make lunch.
Herring is another small, fatty fish (very similar to sardines) that is rich in omega 3 fats and vitamin D. You can get it canned, pickled, and raw. All are great options.
While we prefer fatty fish like salmon, sardines or herring, canned tuna is another good way to get vitamin D in (if that’s what you like). Choose smaller tuna fish to avoid elevated mercury concentrations. Wild Planet canned tuna (with BPA free cans) is a great option. Wild-caught albacore tuna from Wild Planet contains 30% of the daily value of vitamin D per serving.
Oysters are a bivalve mollusk that are a rich source of vitamin D (one oyster provides over half of the recommended dietary intake), as well as protein, omega 3 fats and other trace minerals like zinc and copper. Find wild, fresh oysters and enjoy them regularly.
A 3.5 oz. portion of grass-fed, beef liver contains a good amount of vitamin D along with vitamin A, E, and K. Find organic, grass-fed liver for the most nutrient dense cut of meat. If you don’t like to eat organ meats, start to supplement. We recommend our Paleo Multi, which is an organ meat supplement. Take 3 tabs per day.
Excluding fortified foods, mushrooms are the only other plant source of vitamin D, known as D2. D2 can help to raise vitamin D levels (though not as well as D3). It is also especially important to note that commercially grown mushrooms tend to be grown in the dark and therefore contain little to no vitamin D. Mushrooms gain vitamin D just like us- when they’re exposed to ultraviolet light. Seek out wild mushrooms, that have grown in the sunlight, whenever possible. Wild mushrooms contain exceptional amounts of vitamin D2.
Traditionally, the Institute of Medicine has stated that the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) per day for young adults and 800 IU per day for adults older than 70. Many other experts suggest that adults’ vitamin D needs are much higher.
In fact, a recent 2017 study published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine and Public Health revealed that vitamin D recommendations are much too low and the low levels seen in the population are linked to higher all-cause mortality. The study proposed that recommendations increase drastically for vitamin D, with many individuals requiring around 4,000 IU daily to prevent disease.
Vitamin D deficiencies are now more prevalent than ever. According to research, it is estimated that over 1 billion people in the world have a vitamin D deficiency. In fact, it has been shown that about 40% of the population in the United States is deficient in Vitamin D.
There are several factors that influence a low vitamin D status including but not limited to: obesity, low HDL cholesterol, dark skin pigmentation, alcohol consumption, age, the latitude at where you live, the health of your kidneys and liver, as well as the health of your gut.
Essentially, in today’s society, more people are staying inside, wearing sunblock and eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) which is low in this nutrient.
If you don’t know your intracellular (inside the cell) level of vitamin D, you should. Your health depends on it. Get tested with the most advanced micronutrient testing there is. Serum 25(OH)D levels do not indicate the amount of vitamin D stored in body tissues. You need to test INSIDE the cell.
If you have any of the risk factors mentioned above, then supplementation would be a good idea. Additionally, if you have low vitamin D levels after being tested, you should also supplement. This is because vitamin D plays a critical role in many physiological functions in the body.
If you’re not able to get in the sun regularly, then eating a diet rich in these vitamin-D foods and supplementing daily is key. Try our Super D. One drop of this contains 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in a highly absorbable, emulsified form.
Again, quality of a vitamin D supplement is essential to therapeutically altering levels in your cells. The vitamin D3 form is the most bioavailable for the body. The vitamin D also in our supplement is an oil-in-water emulsion, which is essential for this fat-soluble vitamin to have the highest absorption.
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