Today’s “On the Menu” segment features nutrition tips for getting adequate amounts of vitamin D this winter season.

Vitamin D is the vitamin that is essential for bone health. It not only helps reduce risk of osteoporosis and osteomalacia, but it also has been shown to help the immune system, muscle function, cardiovascular function, respiratory system, brain development and have anti-cancer effects.

According to recent reports from the CDC, research shows about one-quarter of Americans were at risk for vitamin D inadequacy and close to 10 percent were deficient. Individuals at risk for deficiency include those with darker skin tones, overweight or obese, breastfed infants, older adults, those with Crohn’s or Celiac disease, and individuals living in northern climates.

How much do we need?

According to the Food and Nutrition Board, infants up to 12 months need 400 international units (IU), children, teens, and adults from ages 1-70 years require 600 IU, adults 71 years and older need 800 IU, and pregnant or breastfeeding women require 600 IU.

How do I get enough vitamin D?

The best sources of vitamin D are UV rays from sunlight and dietary sources or supplementation.

Ten to 15 minutes of midday summer sun before applying sunscreen can produce the body’s requirement for vitamin D. However, if you don’t have access to sun year-round, you must depend mostly on dietary intake.

Unfortunately, there are not many naturally occurring vitamin D-containing foods. On a positive note, many foods are now fortified with vitamin D, such as milk and orange juice, making it a little easier to meet vitamin D intake requirements.

Here is a list of other vitamin D food sources:

  • Salmon, 3 oz: 447 IU
  • Mackerel, canned, 3 oz: 264 IU
  • Tuna, albacore, 3 oz: 122 IU
  • Tuna, white, canned, 3 oz: 72 IU
  • Cod liver oil, 1 Tbsp: 1281 IU
  • Fortified margarine, 1 tsp: 25-36 IU
  • Fortified orange juice, 1 cup: 100 IU
  • Fortified milk, 1 cup: 115-124 IU (depending on fat percent)
  • Fortified yogurt, 6 oz: 80 IU
  • Sardines, 2 each: 56 IU
  • Eggs, 1 large: 41 IU
  • Fortified cereal, 1 cup: 40 IU

Key tips to remember:

  • Try eating fatty fish in a variety of ways, especially throughout winter months.

    • Ahi tuna sushi bowl
    • Mini salmon cakes or croquettes (can also do this with tuna)
    • Mackerel dip with whole grain crackers and veggies
    • Sardine toast (avocado slices, canned sardines, and sliced jalapeno on a piece of dark rye bread. Squeeze lime on top)
  • When choosing milk, orange juice, yogurt, or margarine, always make sure it is fortified with vitamin D.

Still not sure if you are getting enough vitamin D? Talk to your doctor about trying vitamin D supplements. If done safely, dietary supplementation can be a healthy way to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D.

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(© 2017 WZZM)