The sun is the ultimate provider of vitamin D, but as the weather cools down and the sofa calls your name, you may not be able to get the proper amount of this vital vitamin as you do in the warmer months. This is part of the reason vitamin D deficiency is common—90% of Americans with dark skin pigments may be deficient—and it can cause disruptive symptoms like fatigue, weaker immunity, muscle and lower back pain, and mood fluctuations.
With winter on its way, one way to ensure you’re getting the right amount of vitamin D is to cook with foods that naturally contain it. Vitamin D is common in seafood such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, oysters, shrimp, and even caviar (though you won’t get your daily recommended allowance from this source alone). If you don’t eat fish, you can also find smaller amounts of vitamin D naturally in egg yolks and mushrooms or other fortified foods like milk, yogurt, tofu, and some cereals. Test out some of these recipes to help you cook with foods high in vitamin D.
The Facts: A standard serving size of salmon contains between 361 and 685 IU (international units) of vitamin D, which will help you reach the recommended daily allowance of around 600 IU each day. Wild-caught salmon may contain more vitamin D, so you may want to consider this when you’re making your purchase.
The Recipe: Try this orange-spiced salmon with spaghetti squash recipe from Foodie Crush. It’s comfort food meets healthy, and the serving of salmon will help you reach that daily vitamin D goal. Simply bake and shred a halved squash, and then place seasoned salmon fillets atop the vegetable strands before baking again.
The Facts: Similar to salmon, this fatty fish acts as a good natural source of vitamin D. One serving yields 360 IU of the vitamin.
The Recipe: It’s not your everyday weeknight dinner, but this spicy mackerel recipe with a side of papaya salad from Playful Cooking will shake things up in your kitchen and help you get the essential vitamins your body needs. Allow a spicy rub seasoned with ingredients like coriander, cumin, and fennel to bring out the natural flavors of this healthy fish. Pair it with a papaya salad for a complete meal.
The Facts: Tuna contains 236 IU of vitamin D in every serving. It’s important to note, however, that tuna is associated with mercury poisoning, so it’s best to limit your intake to about six ounces a week at most.
The Recipe: Get your vitamin D while enjoying a light and flavorful citrus tuna ceviche bowl from Food Faith Fitness. The recipe is full of healthy ingredients like fresh veggies, zucchini noodles, and an avocado dressing. The best part is that you don’t even have to cook any of it. Just prepare your toppings and combine them with dressing.
The Facts: These fish are a good source of vitamin D, coming in at 272 IU per serving.
The Recipe: Leave it to the French foodie behind Manger to offer up a sardine tart recipe worthy of trying at home. If you’re hoping to increase your vitamin D intake and are keen on trying new things, you’ll want to prepare this sardine pastry dish flavored with diced tomatoes, fresh basil, and lemon zest (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it).
The Facts: Eggs are not the best natural source of vitamin D, but one yolk contains 30 IU of the vitamin, and the protein, fat, mineral, and additional vitamin content of the food make it a nutritious part of any diet.
The Recipe: These baked egg ricotta thyme cups from A Healthy Life for Me are a Saturday morning kind of breakfast, though they don’t take too much time or effort to put together. Combine ricotta, garlic, thyme, kale, olive oil, and parsley in a rimmed baking sheet before cracking eggs in the ramekins. Bake until the eggs have set but the yolks are still soft for a nutritious and vitamin-packed breakfast.
The Facts: Caviar can contain 22 IU of vitamin D, making it an unexpected source of the critical vitamin. It may be time to indulge a bit (for the sake of your health, of course).
The Recipe: Take your cooking up a notch by whipping up this latke recipe featured on Eye Swoon and topping it with caviar. Shred potatoes in a food processor to get the right texture, and then mix with egg to combine before heating in a pan to form a patty. Top with caviar for the final product.
The Facts: Mushrooms are one of the only natural plant-based sources of vitamin D. One cup only contains about 5 IU of your daily intake of vitamin D, but it’s worth incorporating into your diet along with other foods high in vitamin D.
The Recipe: Get a good serving of mushrooms by preparing this quinoa and vegetable stuffed portobello mushroom recipe from Minimalist Baker. This recipe is full of healthy ingredients and can be paired with the sauce of your choice for extra style points. Try a red salsa, a chimichurri, or a chipotle red sauce.
The Facts: Oysters are low in calories and high in nutrients. One serving provides 320 IU of vitamin D.
The Recipe: Try your hand at this recipe for Te Matuku Bay oysters with mignonette dressing from Stuck in the Kitchen to reap the benefits of this vitamin-rich food and to master an impressive dish. It’s simple to pull off this luxe meal. Combine champagne vinegar, caster sugar, and shallots to prepare a dressing to top only the freshest oysters.
The Facts: These shellfish are low in fat and contain 152 IU of vitamin D per serving. You’ll also benefit from the omega-3 fatty acids found in the seafood.
The Recipe: Go for an Italian classic, and prepare a shrimp linguine pasta dish with garlic and saffron cream sauce. There’s nothing easier to whip up on a busy night than a large pot of pasta. Season and saute shrimp, and make a shallot, garlic, butter, and white wine sauce to drizzle atop your meal along with some Parmesan and fresh basil.
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