When it comes to nutrition, we often get stuck on the big 3, the macronutrients known as carbs, protein, and fat.
These 3 make up the bulk of the food mass we eat and are the fuel for metabolic energy transfer.
These 3 macros are also what determines our energy balance, or the ratio between the energy we eat vs the energy we use. This value is measured in calories and our caloric balance has a direct impact on body composition.
More calories in than out means an increase in body mass. Fewer calories in than out generally lead to a decrease.
Because of this, and the implications energy balance has on physical appearance, we tend to focus too much on macronutrients as a society. This has to lead to us largely overlooking the other essential aspect of nutrition, micronutrients.
There are your vitamins, minerals and essential molecules. They may not contribute directly to your energy values, but they are essential components of your metabolic system.
The ignorance around micronutrients has led to a lot of the essential ones becoming deficient in a typical western diet.
One of these is vitamin D, an essential vitamin with numerous special functions in the body.
Vitamin D Deficiency problem
So we’ve mentioned that a prevalent nutrient deficiency is vitamin D. but why?
Firstly, we tend to live way more indoor, sedentary lives. Why does this affect a vitamin, you might ask?
Well, that’s because vitamin D is activated by UV radiation hitting your skin. Since humans are more and more shielded from the sun, we get less of this natural vitamin D effect.
Another cause for the rise in deficiency is that our diets are just not that great.
The prevalence of processed food, most of which has very little nutrient integrity compared to its whole sources, means many nutrients, including vitamin D, are now not included in our diet in adequate amounts.
So now you know you probably aren’t getting enough vitamin D, but you feel fine, and everything seems okay. How can you tell?
Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency
The problem with vitamin D deficiency is that its signs and symptoms creep up on you over time. It’s not an acute event such as developing scurvy after a little while with no vitamin C.
Vitamin D deficiency shows itself through a gradual decline in quality of life. To know what that means, we need to look as what vitamin D does for the body:
Helps with calcium absorption for bones and teeth
Helps with testosterone production in men
Maintain healthy calcium and phosphorus levels
Healthy immune system
Healthy blood pressure
Simply put, when your vitamin D levels are tanking, you will experience the sub-optimal quality of health in all of these aspects.
The reason vitamin D deficiency is so hard to detect is that the decline in these aspects of health is usually chalked off as normal or a sign of natural aging.
The truth is, while these are things typically associated with aging, the right lifestyle habits, especially with vitamin D in mind, can greatly assist in improving quality of life.
In this article, we aren’t only going to point out the fact that you need to be more mindful of vitamin D, but also what foods and supplements you can add to your diet to increase availability.
Top 5 Vitamin D Sources.
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, especially that wild-caught in cold water are particularly high in vitamin D.
Aside from this, they have a bountiful amount of essential nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids which complement the effects of vitamin D on your health.
Good examples of fatty fish include tuna mackerel and salmon.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to try and get your vitamin D from wild-caught fish. Farmed fish generally don’t have access to the same food sources that would give them the best nutrient profile.
2. Cod Liver Oil
Still, on the topic of fish, we get to cod liver oil.
Now, this is a special supplement. Its a concentrated extract of fish oil taken from deep-sea cod
Cod liver oil has been in use for many generations and its health benefits are only getting better understood as time goes on.
A rich source of both vitamin D and vitamin A, cod liver oil has these essential nutrients in such high concentrations, you can gain your daily required amount from a single dose.
Cheese is one of those processed foods that is more beneficial to humans than its unprocessed, whole form.
Cheese has a decent amount of vitamin D. the added bonus of this is that cheese also contains high levels of calcium.
Since vitamin D and calcium work well together, this is the perfect source for both.
Eggs are a great source of healthy HDL cholesterol and protein of course.
The yolk is especially nutritious. It contains many health-boosting micronutrients including vitamin D.
Mushrooms contain many healthy nutrients including vitamin D.
Of course, you need to be careful when it comes to consuming these fungi. Not all mushrooms are edible.
Make sure you source your mushrooms from a store or a reputable farmer’s outlet.
So it’s pretty clear that vitamin D is important. It’s also likely that you’re not getting enough of it.
These sources are some of the best when it comes to loading up on vitamin D.
Aside from what you eat however, getting plenty of outdoor activity and sunlight is one of the best ways to keep your vitamin D levels high.
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