Can I get enough vitamin D through diet alone?

by Nov 17, 2020Blog

 

Vitamin D is important for absorbing calcium, but it’s also essential for fertility and pregnancy, and reducing the risk of reproductive conditions. The most common source of vitamin D is the sun, but we also get it from food. But, if you’re not able to get adequate sunlight, the question becomes “can I get vitamin D through diet alone”? Let’s take a look…

Can we get vitamin D from diet alone?

Well, the short answer is yes, but it’s not easy.

Most people require around 5 micrograms (or 200 International Units) of vitamin D each day. There’s still debate around whether or not these recommendations should increase during pregnancy, but in most countries, as long as mumma’s vitamin D levels are within the recommended range, guidelines focus on continuing to achieve the recommended 5 micrograms per day. 

5 foods that easily provide the recommended 5 micrograms

Number 1: Salmon

Yes, that’s right. Another reason why salmon is such a nutritious food. A 100g serve of salmon provides over 13 micrograms, so if you’re consuming the recommended three serves of fish each week, then you’re easily meeting your vitamin D requirements. Vitamin D is what we call a fat soluble nutrient, which essentially means that you don’t have to eat it every day as it stays in your body, so three serves of salmon each week will easily meet your weekly requirements. Herring and sardines are also pretty good sources of vitamin D, providing around 5 micrograms, so you’d need to eat a serve of these daily to meet your vitamin D requirements.

Number 2: Dairy products

Milk, yoghurt and cheese all provide around 2-3 micrograms of vitamin D per serve. So, if you’re consuming the recommended 2-3 serves per day, again you’ll easily be meeting your vitamin D requirements.

Number 3: Soy milk

If you follow a vegan diet and don’t drink dairy, don’t be concerned as soy milk is also another great source of vitamin D. Just ensure that you are meeting your 2-3 serves per day.

Number 4: Mushrooms

Mushrooms make vitamin D from UV rays similarly to the way that we do.  One large, flat portobello mushroom contains around 45 micrograms of vitamin D, therefore providing you with enough vitamin D to last all week.

Number 5: Cod liver oil

In the 18th Century, people used to consume cod liver oil to treat rickets – which of course we now know is caused by a vitamin D deficiency. One tablespoon of cod liver oil contains a whopping 34 micrograms of vitamin D – so enough to last all week. However, you need to be careful consuming this, especially if you’re pregnant as its also very high in vitamin A.

 

Vitamin D is also found in small amounts in eggs, margarine, pork, beef and tuna… but that’s about it! Some foods are fortified such as juices, breakfast cereals and margarines may also be fortified with additional vitamin D.

Essentially, you can see that it is possible to meet vitamin D requirements from diet alone, but as it’s found in a limited number of foods, you need to ensure that you are consuming the right diet.

The other consideration is if your vitamin D levels are low and need increasing, so instead of requiring 5 micrograms per day, you require more in the realm of 75 micrograms per day. Now, it IS still possible to meet these requirements naturally through diet, but you’ll need a closely monitored diet as it’s not easy.

Ideally, combine a nutritious, vitamin D-rich diet with a healthy amount of sunshine for optimal vitamin D intake.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out.

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