Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D, but depending on where you live, it can be difficult to catch some rays during the winter months.
Luckily, you can get more of this important nutrient right from your own kitchen.
Many foods are naturally rich in vitamin D.
The Cleveland Clinic lists salmon, tuna, swordfish, sardines, beef liver, egg yolks, fortified milk alternatives, Swiss cheese, and fortified yogurt as top sources.
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And you don’t have to be a cooking connoisseur to reap the dietary benefits.
New York dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus suggested something as simple as a mushroom or salmon omelet or a salad with canned salmon and sliced hard-boiled eggs for a vitamin D boost.
Tanya Freirich, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Charlotte, North Carolina, who practices as a lupus dietitian, chops sardines and warms them with balsamic vinegar to serve on a salad or with pasta.
“Sardines are an excellent source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, but they’re also low in mercury compared to other fish,” she told Fox News Digital in an email.
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A few more ideas include salmon skewers, egg-topped avocado toast, salmon rice bowls, shrimp and spinach salad, and grilled cheese with sautéed mushrooms.
Why is vitamin D important?
The National Institutes of Health define vitamin D as a fat-soluble vitamin that is absorbed from sunlight, certain foods, and dietary supplements.
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Some of its main jobs in the body include promoting calcium absorption, building strong bones, and reducing inflammation.
It has also been shown to boost the immune system and slow the growth of cancer cells.
The body creates its own vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight, but when this is not possible, such as during the colder and darker winter months, the risk of deficiency increases.
About 35% of American adults are vitamin D deficient.
“Living in a northern climate, having darker skin, or being at an advanced age makes it harder to get what we need from the sun, so it’s important to get enough vitamin D through food and /or supplements,” Harris-Pincus told Fox. Digital news by e-mail.
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The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) for people under 70 and 800 IU for people over 70, according to the Mayo Clinic.
(One IU is just under 1 microgram.)
Some people may need more depending on their health needs.
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About 35% of American adults are vitamin D deficient, states the Cleveland Clinic.
Common symptoms include fatigue, weak or sore muscles, mood swings or depression and fatigue.
In children, a severe deficiency can lead to rickets, a condition in which the bones become soft and weak.
Stay tuned for more articles in Fox News Health’s “Be Well” series.