Recently I went for a checkup with my doctor and we did some routine blood tests. When my results came back, my doctor revealed to me that I have a Vitamin D deficiency! This came as a shock to me, as someone who spends a lot of time outdoors enjoying the sun because one of the major sources of Vitamin D is in fact the suns rays. However, not wanting to put myself at risk in the suns rays, I started researching other ways to improve my Vitamin D levels.
What is the cause?
To begin my search, I wanted to find out the root causes of Vitamin D deficiency. According to the National Library of Medicine, or NIH, Vitamin D deficiency is most often caused by lack of exposure to sunlight and not getting enough vitamin D in your diet.
However there are a few other causes that might be interfering with your Vitamin D levels. Some peoples kidneys have trouble converting Vitamin D in the body and other people take certain medications that mess with the levels of Vitamin D. So if you think you are Vitamin D deficient, always check with your doctor before making major changes to your lifestyle.
For me, I decided to start changing my diet first and see if that helped.
What have I been eating?
If you follow us on Instagram, you will have seen that I’ve recently been posting some Vitamin D rich foods to our story. Lately my diet has been heavily consisting of foods that, according to the NIH, naturally contain Vitamin D. Such foods include fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), beef liver, cheese, mushrooms, and egg yolks. Some yogurts even contain added Vitamin D.
I have taken full advantage of yogurts with added Vitamin D. It’s the easiest way to get a little bit of extra vitamin D, and doubles as a filling breakfast, or even a midday snack, in the right portion. However, I’ve never been someone who enjoys plain yogurt. The texture of it just makes me gag. Bleh! So I have been taking it one step further and started prepping mason jar parfaits. You know the ones. People like to post them all over their Pinterest boards and make them look really pretty and colorful. With two boys running around I don’t really have the time to make mine look very nice, but throwing some ingredients in a jar before bed still makes for a delicious Vitamin D packed breakfast when I wake up.
Lately I have been loving plain vanilla yogurts because it lets me add any flavor or fruit that I want to it. Typically I’ll just pick some of the low-fat, Vitamin D added yogurt at Trader Joe’s. But if there isn’t a Trader Joe’s near you I reccomend Yoplait’s Vanilla flavor. It has 20% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin D
Vitamin D Under the Sea
Yogurt is great for during the day, but eating yogurt with dinner is nonsense. So I have also turned to some of the fatty fishes I mentioned above, namely tuna and salmon. Typically I just go with a simple oven-baked salmon. It’s so simple and so easy to make. Wish some salad on the side, it’s honestly the perfect meal for summer nights. This recipe for oven-baked salmon from Food Network is pretty close to how I prepare salmon for myself. The Toasted Almond Parsley Salad that’s included is definitely something that is new to me. I’ll have to try it out next time I have salmon!
For those of you feeling a little more adventurous though, and want something thats not so simple, I found this great recipe for oven-baked salmon with a bit more flavor to it. Don’t get too intimidated though; it still uses simple ingredients and a few spices like oregano and thyme to make things a little more interesting.
In my search for fish recipes, I also came across this great one for tuna tartare. It’s not exactly a meal, but it is a great recipe to make and bring as an appetizer to a dinner party. The wasabi and soy sauce give it a little bit of a kick, and the lime makes for a fresh summery taste.
The No-Meat Option
Getting Vitamin D can be hard enough but there is an added layer of difficulty if you don’t eat meat and/or fish, since a lot of foods that contain Vitamin D are different kinds of fish and animal meat. So I wanted to find a recipe for all of my vegetarian friends. Since mushrooms are a great source of Vitamin D, I though this Farro Risotto with Mushrooms Recipe from Nuts.com would be perfect! And this recipe can easily be made vegan-friendly by switching out the parmesan cheese for homemade vegan parmesan or store bought vegan parmesan (available at places like Whole Foods).
Aside from using mushrooms as a base, this recipe also makes use of farro, which is whole grain, similar to barley. It is a great source of fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B.
Reaping the Benefits
Vitamin D deficiency certainly isn’t the worst thing that can be harming your health and well-being. The day-to-day effects of the deficiency don’t cause too much harm, but the long-term, internal effects can. Again according to the NIH, The most common effect of Vitamin D deficiency is a loss in bone density, which puts you at more risk for bone fractures and osteoporosis. In more sever cases it can lead to conditions like rickets or osteomalacia, which causes bone weakness and bone pain.
I have been fortunate enough to not have reached the point of severe vitamin D deficiency, and with two kids to keep up with I can’t afford to either! So here is to eating healthy now, and having my body thank me later!