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Vitamin D: Definition, Sources, Benefits, Risks

 Vitamin D is a very easily available nutrient that can be obtained from sunlight. Direct exposure to sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. 

Although vitamin D is free, but 50 percent of the world’s population is lacking in Vitamin D. Also 40 percent of the US population is vitamin D deficient.

The reason is quite simple, we spend more time indoors, usually wear sunblock outside, due to some cultural practices. Somehow we restrict to expose our body from sunlight.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D (also known as “calciferol”)  is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. It is a fat-soluble nutrient and can be easily found in some foods and supplements. One important source of vitamin D is UV Ray from sunlight when hits the body activates the synthesis of vitamin D.

Some of the major roles of vitamin D in the body include decrease inflammation, cell growth, glucose metabolism, neuromuscular and immune function. 

Good Sources of Vitamin D

1. Salmon

Salmon is a great source of vitamin D. It is a fatty fish. As per the data by the United States Department of Food and Agriculture  (USDA) database, 526 IU of vitamin D or 66 percent of the DV is found in 100 gm serving of farmed salmon. There is a big difference between farmed salmon and wild salmon.

While 988 IU of vitamin D or 124 percent DV is found in a 100 gm serving of wild salmon.  

Though farmed salmon contains lower amounts. Still, it provides enough nutrients as per body need i.e. 250 IU of Vitamin D or 32 percent of the DV.

2. Cod liver oil

This is also one of the popular supplements. This may be useful if you are a vegetarian or don’t like to eat fish. This oil contains some nutrients which are not easily available in other sources.

It is used as a prevention and treatment of deficiencies in children. It contains 448 IU of vitamin D per teaspoon, or 56 percent of DV. 

Cod liver oil is also high in Vitamin A and omega  3 fatty acids. But ensure that you don’t consume too much, it will be toxic.

3. Mushrooms

Mushrooms (other than fortified foods) are the only plant that is a good source of vitamin D. When exposed to UV rays of sun mushroom also synthesizes like humans. An animal produces vitamin D3 but a mushroom produces vitamin D2. 

Wild mushrooms or UV-treated mushrooms are good sources of vitamin D2. It contains 2300 IU of vitamin D per 100 gm serving.

Make sure to take wild or UV-treated mushrooms as they contain a high amount of vitamin D compared to farmed mushrooms. Because farmed mushrooms are generally grown in darker places so they contain a small amount of vitamin D2.

4. Fortified Foods

Vitamin D is very limited if you are looking for natural sources. If you are a vegetarian or vegan then it becomes more narrow. 

Some foods are fortified with the same nutrients but don’t contain them naturally. This includes

Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk is the most famously consumed milk which is the best source of nutrients like calcium, riboflavin, and phosphorus. 

In most countries, cow’s milk is fortified with vitamin D, it contains about 115 IU per cup or about 15-20 percent of DV.

Soy Milk

Vegetarians and vegans often feel a high risk of not getting enough Vitamin D. Soy milk can be a good source of vitamin D for non-meat eaters.

Soy milk and other plant-based milk are fortified with nutrients, minerals, and vitamins usually found in normal cow’s milk.

It contains 107-115 IU of vitamin D or13-15 percent of the DV.

Cereal and Oatmeal

Like other foods we have discussed, some cereals and oatmeals are fortified with vitamin D. One serving of oats and cereals can give 54-136 IU or 17 percent of DV. 

Yes, it has a very little amount of vitamin D than other natural sources. But still, it can boost you in a good way.

Orange Juice

Orange juice has up to 100 IU of vitamin D or 12 percent of the DV. It can be better with breakfast to kickstart your day. 

This is the reason, in some countries, orange juices are fortified with vitamin D. 

5. Egg Yolks

If you are not eating meat but can eat eggs, then this may be one of the best sources of vitamin D. Seafood is not the only source of vitamin D, eggs are also filled with nutrition.

In eggs yolk, fats, vitamins, and minerals found along with egg white contain many proteins. 

7 IU of vitamin D or 5% of the DV is generally found in egg yolk. 

One more thing you need to remember is that vitamin D percentage in egg yolk depends upon the chicken feed. If the chicken feed has enough amount of vitamin D then that will be a good outcome as an egg.

Vitamin D requirement for your body

In summer or when there is enough sunlight in your locality, this is the best time you should absorb enough sunlight to fulfill the vitamin D requirement.

  • Children above one year, adults, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and vitamin D deficiency people require 10 mg of vitamin D intake in a day.
  • Children less than one year require 8 to 10 mg of vitamin D in a day.

Side effects of high Vitamin D intake

If your body consuming too many supplements for a longer period, this can weaken your kidney, bone, and heart.

For most people, 10 micrograms of vitamin D is enough in a day. If you have any medical complications, consult with your doctor as take more or less as per recommendation.

Exposure to sunlight for vitamin D for a long time can damage your skin or lead to skin cancer. If you are going out for a long time then protect your skin. 

The best time for your body to get an adequate amount of sunlight is in the early morning (between 8 am to 10 am).

If you have any vitamin D deficiency it can be treated by diet or supplements. It is possible to get enough vitamin D from


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