Vitamin D has been proven to optimize both mind and body, but long, dark winters can deplete your “sunshine vitamin” levels so severely that exposure to summer sun alone isn’t enough to correct the shortfall. Luckily, these study-backed strategies can fast-track D production to end tiredness, prevent disease, and guarantee happiness! Check out four of our favorite natural ways to feel great today.
Sun your mushrooms
No joke! Mushrooms—like people—make more vitamin D when they’re exposed to the sun’s light, explains Australian researcher Tony James, Ph.D. Indeed, research in the journal Nutrients suggests setting whole store-bought mushrooms outside in the midday sun for just 15 minutes could increase their vitamin D content by 75%! To boost your vitamin D intake, researchers recommend enjoying 1⁄2 cup of sunned mushrooms daily.
Add probiotics to your smoothies
Getting a daily dose of the healthy probiotic bacteria found in yogurt may increase your blood levels of vitamin D by 25%, report Canadian researchers. That’s because probiotics help the digestive tract absorb this essential nutrient. Prefer crunchier fare? Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and its Korean cousin, kimchi, offer the same probiotic boost.
Cook your fish with care
Salmon, trout, tuna and other fatty fish are rich in vitamin D, but deep-frying has been shown to cut levels by 50% because vitamin D is destroyed by super-hot oils, say Boston University researchers. That’s why Michael Holick, M.D., author of The Vitamin D Solution, recommends enjoying two 6-oz. meals of fatty fish weekly, prepared by sautéing, baking or poaching to maximize vitamin D content.
Pair vitamin D with fat
Taking 2,000 IU daily of vitamin D-3— the most easily absorbed form of the nutrient —can correct mood-sapping shortfalls in as little as six weeks. For best results, Tufts University researchers suggest taking D-3 with a meal that contains fat, such as eggs, cheese, butter or nuts, because dietary fat increases D-3 absorption by 32%.
NOTE: Check with your doctor before taking any supplement.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine