We all know sunshine is the cure if you don’t get enough vitamin D in your diet, right? Well, not so fast … sunshine isn’t always enough.
The problem is that even when it’s sunny you might not get enough vitamin D. In a study from the city of Calgary — one of the sunniest places in Canada — almost every person measured had a vitamin D deficiency … 97 percent of them!1
And in Australia, one of the sunniest places on earth, an osteoporosis study found over 43 percent of people had low vitamin D levels during the winter.2
A recent study from the prestigious Archives of Internal Medicine found that an astounding three out of four Americans don’t get enough vitamin D. That’s a shame because vitamin D might just be your best defense against the modern world. For example:
- High vitamin D levels can lower the rate of ALL cancers by 77%
- People with the highest levels of vitamin D have a 43% lower rate of heart disease
- Men with the highest levels of vitamin D have less skin cancer3
- Women with high vitamin D levels have 20% less bone loss and fractures
- People with high vitamin D levels have 20% lower rates of gum disease
- People with the most vitamin D have a 55% lower rate of diabetes4
And vitamin D is a mood enhancer, too.
Meanwhile, vitamin D deficiency is linked to osteoporosis (metabolic bone disease), increased body fat, unexplained muscle pain, impaired lung function,5 respiratory infections and even a depressed sex drive.
So whether sunshine is in short supply (or if you’re simply not getting enough of it), how do you ensure you have enough vitamin D? Of course, you can get it from eating beef, eggs and even cod liver oil, but my two favorites are:
Mushrooms — Did you know that mushrooms are the only vegetable in the world with vitamin D in them? And it almost seems like there are as many different types of mushrooms as there are ways to eat them.
Here’s a list of common mushrooms and their vitamin D levels…
|MushroomType:||Chanterelle, raw, whole||Oyster, raw, sliced||Brown, Italian, Crimini, raw, whole||Enoki, raw, sliced or whole||White, raw, whole|
|International Units (IU) of Vitamin D per cup of mushrooms:||114||25||3||3||5|
|MushroomType:||Shiitake, raw||Shiitake, dried||Morel, raw||Maitake, raw, diced||Portabella, raw, diced||Portabella sliced|
|International Units (IU) of Vitamin D per cup of mushrooms:||18||60||136||786||9||17|
SOURCE: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (2010)
Alfalfa — The herb alfalfa is one of the richest sources of vitamins you can get from a plant, with high levels of vitamins A, E and K. And alfalfa sprouts contain 150 percent more amino acids than corn or wheat.
There are about 267 IU of vitamin D in each ounce (1.25 cups) of alfalfa leaves.6 You can eat them raw in a sandwich or salad, or sautÃ© them like spinach.
But I think the best way to prepare alfalfa leaves is to steam them in a basket above boiling water for about five minutes until they’re tender. They make a great side dish.
To Your Good Health,
1 The Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study, www.camos.org
2 Pasco, J.A., Henry, M.J., Nicholson, G.C., et al, “Vitamin D status of women in the Geelong Osteoporosis Study: association with diet and casual exposure to sunlight,” Med. J. Aust. Oct. 2001;175(8):401-5
3 Dahl, Mark V., MD, “Higher serum 25(OH)D levels were associated with lower levels of nonmelanoma skin cancer in elderly men,” Journal Watch: Dermatology January 2010
4 Parker, J., Hashmi, O., Dutton, D., et al, “Levels of vitamin D and cardiometabolic disorders,” Maturitas Feb. 2010; 65:225-236
5 Sutherland, E. Rand, et al, “Vitamin D Levels, Lung Function, and Steroid Response in Adult Asthma,” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2010; 181: 699-704
6 Horst, RL, Reinhardt, T.A., Russell, J.R., Napoli, J.L., “The isolation and identification of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 from Medicago sativa (alfalfa plant),” Arch. Biochem. Biophys. May 15, 1984;231(1):67-71