Eight ways to boost your intake of vitamin D

Posted on: 21 February 2017 by 50connect editorial

Help keep your vitamin D levels topped up with simple tips that can be introduced into your daily routine.

Hands in sunlight

Studies show adults in the UK Suffer an average of two to five colds a year, for most adults colds are a nuisance but for some vulnerable groups, they can trigger more serious health problems. The news that vitamin D might help reduce the risk of colds is very exciting and in addition to this new research other studies suggest that vitamin D may play a role in reducing the risk of many other health problems. The problem is that it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from the diet which is why new recommendations from the SACN suggests that everyone needs to take a supplement of 10 micro gram in autumn and winter.

Also this month research talked about how we should look at fortifying our diets with vitamin D to help prevent colds and flu but Fiona Hunter, nutritionist says "In regards to advising that we fortify foods with vitamin D, I think fortification is not  the answer – my concern is that by fortifying foods it's hard to know how much we are actually getting and if you ate large quantities of fortified food there is the danger that you could get too much, so I would rather people took a supplement so they can control the levels they are taking in their diet if they are unable to get what they need from their diet alone, which is often the case with Vitamin D.” 

"The best way to get vitamin D is by absorbing UV light through the skin, which is then converted into this nutrient by the body.  Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium by bones and teeth and ongoing research is also exploring the role of vitamin D to help reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.  Vitamin D also plays a role in regulating the immune system and this has opened up research looking at multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes and the flu in relation to this nutrient’ says Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition.   

These ten tips below can help to ensure you keep your vitamin D levels topped up.

Supplement

Vitamin D Supplements

During the winter months it can be tricky to get enough vitamin D as the days are short and cloudy. The new recommendations suggest that we take a supplement of 10mcg of vitamin D at day. Try opting for a supplement of vitamin D3, which is the same form made by the body on exposure to sunlight. Products such as Healthspan Super strength vitamin D and Holland and Barret’s vitamin D3 are a great way to keep those levels topped up.

Eat oily fish 

There are very few food sources of vitamin D but oily fish are high on the list. This group of fish includes herring, mackerel, trout, salmon and tuna. You can also get some vitamin D from canned tuna and sardines, which offer a cost-effective solution. 

Get outdoors

When the sun comes out it is a good idea to get outdoors, especially during the spring and summer months. In order to get everything you need, you should aim to expose your skin to the sun (before applying sun cream) for 15 minutes during the middle of the day. Just exposing your skin in this way each day will help you get more than enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D snacks 

Aside from eating fillets of oily fish, you can explore interesting ways to make healthy nutritious snacks and small meals such as smoked mackerel pate, salmon mousse or smoked salmon blinis. Boiled eggs also make great snacks or picnic options. You can flavour boiled eggs with smoked paprika or celery salt for added flavour.

Start the day with an egg

Egg on toast

Eating eggs are a great way to start the day with a dose of vitamin D. Try serving any way you like and try to add a serving of vegetables for a little extra nutrition. You could add mushrooms and turn your eggs into an omelette for additional vitamin D.

Leave your mushrooms out in the sun

Mushrooms are clever fungi and have the ability to convert sunlight into vitamin D. Some supermarkets now sell mushrooms that have been farmed under UV light to increase their vitamin D content. Mushrooms still make vitamin D even when picked so try leaving yours out in the sun for a short while before eating.

Fortified breakfast cereals

Fortified foods are a great way to increase your intake of vitamin D. Breakfast cereals are particularly versatile and can be used to make toppings for fruit-based puddings such as fruit crumbles or even as toppings for savoury dishes (cornflakes make a crunchy topping for chicken). 

Fortified plant milks

Many of the cow’s milk alternatives are fortified with vitamin D and offer really interesting flavours from nuts to coconut. These drinks can be used to make smoothies by adding fruits and spices such as cinnamon, turmeric or nutmeg.

Whilst the only way to really get enough vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight, every little helps and including some of the foods rich in this nutrient into your diet each day can go some way to helping to keep you topped up. 

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