Thursday, December 29, 2005

Vitamin D is Critical for Health

Many of my readers may recall that I wrote back in June that 2005 is the year for insight into the critical importance of Vitamin D in our health. Today, MSNBC had an article, Study: Vitamin D lowers risk of major cancers, that drives home just how important this micronutrient is for our long-term health.

The MSNBC article does a good job of presenting the results from the research.

I'm just going to add here that the article did not include many of the foods that contain Vitamin D naturally, so I'll list some here. I do not include margarine or milk since both have Vitamin D added, but it is noteworthy that fortified milk products are also a source of Vitamin D in the diet. I do not, however, recommend margarine.
  • Butter
    1-tablespoon of butter contains 0.2mcg Vitamin D
  • Heavy Cream
    1-tablespoon of heavy cream contains 0.4mcg Vitamin D
  • Natural Cheddar Cheese (regular)
    1-ounce of regular, natural cheddar cheese contains 0.09mcg Vitamin D
  • Natural Swiss Cheese (regular)
    1-ounce of regular, natural swiss cheese contains 0.31mcg Vitamin D
  • Eggs
    1 large egg (specifically the yolk) contains 0.65mcg Vitamin D
  • Canned Pink Salmon
    3-ounces of canned pink salmon contains 10.2mcg Vitamin D
  • Canned Tuna in Oil
    3.25-ounces of canned tuna in oil contains 4.7mcg Vitamin D
    (tuna packed in water has none)
  • Liverwurst
    2-tablespoons of liverwurst contains 0.38mcg Vitamin D
  • Beef Liver, Braised
    3-ounces of beef liver, braised contains 0.5mcg Vitamin D
  • Gouda or Edam Cheese (regular)
    1-ounce regular, natural gouda or edam cheese contains 0.2mcg Vitamin D
  • Mixed Species Shrimp (moist heat cooked)
    4-ounces of mixed species shrimp contains 1.62mcg Vitamin D
  • Chinook Salmon, Baked or Broiled
    4-ounces of chinook salmon contains 4.1mcg Vitamin D
  • Pacific Cod, Baked or Broiled
    4-ounces of pacific cod contains 0.64mcg Vitamin D
  • Cod Liver Oil
    1-teaspoon of cod liver oil contains 4mcg Vitamin D

This is not an exhaustive list, but interestingly, many of the foods above are the very ones we're told to avoid in our diets in the US. Even more interesting, at least to me, is the fact that many of these very foods are the same foods encouraged when one is eating a low-carb diet!

While it can be tricky to get your Vitamin D from foods, it most definitely can be done. Supplements are also another way to boost your vitamin D intake - but remember, when vitamins occur in food they also occur with other vitamins, minerals and elements and these may be important to our ability to utilize the Vitamin D. So, from my perspective, it is better to try to get as much of your Vitamin D from food as possible, especially during the winter months when our exposure to sunlight is decreased.

Sunlight, by the way, is of critical importance for humans to make Vitamin D - without it, or when we slather ourselves with sunscreen all the time, we're limiting our body's ability to make the Vitamin D it needs. This isn't to encourage reckless abandon in the sun - but to remind you that short-term exposure to sunlight is actually beneficial to your health.

That means that in the warmer months, exposing yourself to sunlight, sans sunscreen for 20-30-minutes each day is beneficial as is allows your body to manufacture Vitamin D from the exposure to the UV rays.

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