Looking for new vitamin D sources? At least 52 recent studies prove that one of the most important things you can do to improve your health is to ensure your body gets a steady trickle of vitamin D, a nutrient that cuts your risk of cancer, osteoporosis, and arthritis as much as 67 percent and lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes faster and more effectively than losing weight.
It's clear that vitamin D is a key to staying healthy. Here's how to get more of it.
Increase absorption with a sunshine tweak. Spending 10 to 15 minutes outdoors in the midday sun (without sunscreen) helps your body make its own vitamin D from natural oils in your skin, says Michael F. Holick, M.D., author of The Vitamin D Solution. The catch? It can take an hour or more for that newly formed vitamin D to soak into your tissues! To maximize your absorption, wait at least an hour after spending time outdoors before washing your face or taking a shower, advise Cornell University scientists.
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Take your supplement with some nuts. Prefer a supplement? Vitamin D3 is the best absorbed form, and Tufts University research shows that you can increase its absorption even more (32 percent!) by taking it with a little fat, such as nuts, eggs, cheese or butter. The study-proven dose: 2,000 IU of D3 daily. (Important: Always check with your doctor before starting a new supplement.)
Cook fish the right way. Salmon, trout, tuna and other fatty fish are rich in vitamin D--but deep-frying them in super-hot oil destroys as much 50 percent of their D, report researchers in the journal Nutrients. Instead, aim to eat two 6-oz. servings of fatty fish weekly, prepared either by sautéing, baking or poaching.
Boost the benefit with bacteria. Taking a mixed probiotic supplement can raise your vitamin D level 25 percent in three months. Studies by Canadian researchers show that having plenty of these healthy bacteria in your digestive tract increases you absorption of D from supplements and foods.