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Food First: Vitamin D the Sunshine Vitamin


Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin important for calcium absorption in the body. Calcium is a mineral associated with bone formation and bone strength. Due to this relationship, Vitamin D deficiency can often come hand in hand with a calcium deficiency. Vitamin D is also important for cell growth, immune function and the reduction of overall inflammation within the body.1


Daily Recommendations

Women and Men ages 19-70 years: 600 IU/day

Women and Men ages 70 and older: 800 IU/day1


Vitamin D Deficiency

 Since Vitamin D is primarily obtained from sunlight, deficiency is actually quite common. During the winter months, those who live in northern regions of the country are unable to receive the necessary amount of sunlight that would prevent a deficiency. Due to the low quantity of foods that naturally provide the body with Vitamin D and the health consequences of Vitamin D deficiency, supplementation is often required. The addition of food sources however, is also recommended and may help resolve low Vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D deficiency usually has long term consequences, and overt symptoms are difficult to detect. If left untreated, Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis due to Vitamin D’s important role in bone formation. If instructed by a medical professional to take a vitamin or mineral supplement, it is important that these instructions are followed. In some cases, food sources of vitamins and minerals will not be sufficient for addressing nutritional inadequacies.


Sources of Vitamin D

Below is a list of the most common food sources of Vitamin D

  • Cod liver oil
  • Salmon
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Fortified milk
  • Fortified yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Sunlight! If going outdoors to obtain Vitamin D, sunblock will actually prevent the absorption through your skin. However, you only need a few minutes of sun exposure to obtain the necessary amount of Vitamin D. Be sure to lather on that lotion at least 15 minutes after stepping outside to prevent sunburn and skin damage.


Try this Vitamin D-rich recipe, Honey Garlic Salmon


Honey Garlic Salmon
Serves 4
When purchasing the salmon for this recipe, keep in mind that wild caught varieties will have a higher Vitamin D content than farmed salmon.
  1. 4 wild caught salmon fillets
  2. Salt and pepper to season
  3. ½ teaspoon paprika
  4. 2 tablespoons butter
  5. 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
  6. 4 tablespoons honey
  7. 1 tablespoon water
  8. 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  9. 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  10. Lemon wedges to serve
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  1. Preheat oven to broil/grill setting on medium heat.
  2. Season salmon with salt, pepper and paprika. Set aside.
  3. Heat the butter in a skillet or pan (be sure your pan is oven safe) over medium-high heat until melted. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Pour in the honey, water and soy sauce; allow the flavors to heat through and combine. Add the lemon juice; stir well to combine.
  4. Add the salmon fillets to the sauce and cook each fillet (skin side down) for 3-4 minutes or until golden. Baste the top with the pan juices and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the lemon wedges around the pan. Baste the salmon one more time and transfer to the oven for 5-6 minutes. The tops of the salmon will be slightly charred.
  6. Serve over whole grain rice, quinoa or salad, with remaining sauce drizzled over.
Adapted from Café Delites: https://cafedelites.com/easy-honey-garlic-salmon/
Adapted from Café Delites: https://cafedelites.com/easy-honey-garlic-salmon/
Savor Health https://savorhealth.com/
  1. Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals 2018; https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/#h5.


Rebecca MacLean

Rebecca MacLean is a dietetic intern and graduate student at Teachers College, Columbia University. Rebecca received her undergraduate degree in Human Nutrition and Food Science with a minor in Sustainable Food Systems from the University of Maine. In her spare time, Rebecca enjoys home cooking and spending as much time as possible in the outdoors. She currently resides in New York City.

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