Clean Diet Basics
Vitamin D is a star nutrient these days, as research links it to numerous health benefits.Studies suggest vitamin D may go beyond its well-established role in bone health and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and more.
What makes vitamin D unique is that it is a vitamin and also a hormone your body can make from the sun. Despite the ability to get vitamin D from food and the sun, an estimated 40%-75% of people are deficient.
Why? Vitamin D is not abundant in our food choices and the sun is not a reliable source for everyone.
Many factors affect the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D, including season, time of day, latitude, air pollution, cloud cover, sunscreen, body parts exposed, color, and age. Dermatologists recommend using sunscreen and getting vitamin D from food and supplements rather than risk the harmful rays of the sun.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
The sun is an excellent source of vitamin D, but it is hard to quantify how much vitamin D you get from time in the sun and the risk of skin cancer may outweigh the benefits. Food first, says Baylor College of Medicine dietitian Keli Hawthorne. “Supplements can fill in the gaps but it is always better to try to meet your nutritional needs with foods that contain fiber, phytonutrients, and so much more,” Hawthorne says.
Unless you enjoy a diet that includes fatty fish or fish liver oils, it may be hard to get enough vitamin D naturally without eating fortified foods or taking a supplement. “The major dietary source of vitamin D comes from fortified diary, along with some yogurts and cereals,” Hawthorne says. Mushrooms, eggs, cheese, and beef liver contain small amounts.
Sample Diet Plan
Sample Diet Plan
Tbsp cod liver oil: 1,360 IU
3 oz. salmon: 800 IU
8 oz. fortified milk:100 IU
8 oz. fortified orange juice: 100 IU
3 oz. irradiated mushrooms: 400 IU
Your health care provider can check your vitamin D blood level with a simple blood test.
Part of the confusion about whether or not you are getting enough vitamin D may be the definition of the acceptable blood level of vitamin D, clinically measured as 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D].
Using vitamin D blood levels is the best estimate of adequacy that accounts for dietary intake and sunshine, yet experts differ on what that level should be.
“A 25(OH)D blood level of at least 20 nanograms/ml was used by the IOM committee to set the recommendations for vitamin D because this level showed adequacy for a wide variety of bone health indicators” says Brannon.
The Endocrine Society Practice Guidelines, as well as many laboratories and experts (including Baetti), recommend a minimum vitamin D blood level of 30 nanograms/ml as an acceptable level.