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Food & Recipes

2 Surprising Foods That Will Boost Your Vitamin D Levels


On top of benefits like lifting your blue moods, fighting fatigue, and strengthening your bones and muscles, new studies show that getting more of vitamin D can help ward off the nastier symptoms of COVID-19.

Looking to boost your vitamin D levels? Sure, spending a little time outdoors can help, but there are a few tasty ways you can add more of this essential nutrient to your meals, too.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, most of the vitamin-D rich food options we rely on — like certain milks or cereals — are fortified with the vitamin rather than having it occur naturally. While those are helpful, the organization warns they can also come with “excessive added sugar or saturated fat.” They recommend reading labels carefully to avoid overdoing it.

That said, there are some natural food sources for vitamin D that you can stock up on. Learn more about them below.

What foods are highest in vitamin D?

First, let’s remind ourselves that US Department of Health’s daily recommended amount of vitamin D for adults is 600 IU. (The number goes up to 800 IU over the age of 70.) According to their list of vitamin D-rich foods, you can get a significant portion of that from a plateful of two options: fatty fish and white mushrooms.

One serving of rainbow trout (3 oz.) will actually go above and beyond with 645 IU of vitamin D. The same amount of salmon will get you pretty close with 570 IU. Canned tuna or a couple of sardines will give you a nice boost, too, but not quite as much with about 40 IU and 46 IU each. It might not seem like a lot when compared to the other fishies, but it’s still helpful! Not a fish fan? Scrambling up an egg can get you similar levels with 44 IU found in the yolks.

There’s good news for those who follow plant-based diets, too: Half a cup of sliced white mushrooms will give you an impressive 366 IU. That’s more than half the daily recommended amount of vitamin D! However, the key to really unlocking the benefits is exposing the fungi to UV light, which it soaks up and shares with your body as you eat it. Mushroom growers make this happen with UV lamps or exposure to sunshine before packing them up to ship to our grocery stores. You can also let your shrooms soak up rays in your kitchen for a few minutes before slicing them up to make sure they’re really amping up the vitamin D levels.

As the Cleveland Clinic also points out, sunshine is still the best way to dial up the vitamin D in our systems. You can achieve that by spending as little as 15 minutes outside during midday at least twice a week. You might want to enjoy a nice outdoor lunch break with one of the vitamin D-rich foods while you’re at it to give yourself extra nutritional perks!

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