Vitamin D, whether taken via tablet or absorbed from the sun, is important for our bodies. Foods high in vitamin D are easy to incorporate into your diet, and you won’t regret doing so.

Vitamin D is essential for our bodies to function, and most of us can absorb it naturally from the sun. From sunlight our skin makes the vital substance known as vitamin D, which is actually a hormone rather than a vitamin, that plays an important role in maintaining bone strength. It increases activation in more than 2,000 genes. This increased gene activation allows the body to combat disease. In fact, more than 5,000 scientific studies have shown the clear association of vitamin D deficiency with more than 100 diseases and health problems. These include cancer, diabetes, rickets, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, obesity and heart diseases.

If you eat a varied diet and are able to get some regular sun (about 20 minutes a day, unfiltered by sunscreen) then you are probably getting all the vitamin D you need. Vitamin D is oil soluble, which means you need to eat fat to absorb it. Vitamin D is widely added to many foods as well as drinks such as milk and orange juice, and can also be consumed as a supplement.

Even if you aren’t getting enough vitamin D from sunlight, you probably don’t need a vitamin supplement, as you can increase your vitamin D intake through food. Below is a list of vitamin D rich foods:

Fish: Fatty fish can be a good source of vitamin D. Common options include salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and eel.

Egg yolks: Eggs are high in vitamin D and are easy to incorporate into your diet.

Fortified food: Fortified milk has about one-fifth a day’s worth of vitamin D. Fortified cereals are also widely available. The amount of vitamin D in cereals varies widely by brand and type, so read the label carefully. This is a great way to get your kids to consume more vitamin D.

Pork: Three ounces of pork can provide almost one-seventh of a daily dose of vitamin D. The most can be found in pork ribs. The amount of vitamin D in pork varies greatly by cut and preparation. You’ll barely get any Vitamin D from a slice of ham.

Mushrooms: Mushrooms can have a significant amount of vitamin D, but the amount varies widely by type. Shiitake mushrooms provide more vitamin D than white mushrooms.

Beef liver: A three-ounce portion of beef liver has about one-fourteenth of a daily dose of Vitamin D for someone who doesn’t get much exposure to the sun. Grass fed beef provides additional nutrition.

Ricotta cheese: Ricotta cheese stands out among cheeses for its relatively high vitamin D content. Ricotta has about five times as much vitamin D as most other cheeses.

— Vandana Singh, Correspondent (Food)

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