Vitamin D does so many good things for our body, yet so many people are deficient in it. Here are some easy, plant-based ways to get some extra vit D in your diet.
Every day, it seems like we’re told about a new vitamin or mineral that is chronically deficient in our diets, with bottles rattled in our faces promising to change our health overnight. With claims of boosting mood, improving energy, thickening hair, or strengthening muscles, it can be hard to weed the crocodile tears from the supplements we should really be including. That’s why we’re here to help.
So what’s so great about vitamin D?
Vitamin D is one of those superstars it can be easy to overlook, especially since its main source gets such a bad rap. With such high skin cancer rates in Australia, it’s no wonder why the sun is so scorned, but don’t write it off so quickly. Vitamin D is mainly synthesised by the sun, our bodies requiring around 10-20 minutes in direct sunlight everyday to get enough, depending on your skin tone and the sun’s intensity where you live. (PS: that time is sunscreen-free).
It stabilises mood
The hippocampus is busy, governing everything from emotion to memory to the autonomic nervous system. It also plays a crucial role in managing your mood and happens to have vitamin D receptors. Studies have found that in people with depression, the receptors struggle to detect vitamin D. Other culprits of low vitamin D? PMS and seasonal affective disorder, to name a few.
It’s a boon to your brain
The hippocampus isn’t the only part of your brain that benefits from some vitamin D love. As a whole, the brain processes things more quickly and has higher cognitive functioning when it has enough vitamin D. Unfortunately, for those who lack it, it’s unclear if reaching reasonable levels will reverse the decline. However, starting supplements can prevent further deterioration.
It fights disease
We’re calling vitamin D the happy vitamin for its impact on your psychological state, but knowing you’re protecting your physical health as well can’t help but improve your mood. It’s been found to help maintain bone health, support the immune system, and ward off cancer by regulating cancerous cell growth.
Vitamin D can seem hard to get on a plant-based diet — its main sources are fatty fishes, eggs, and cheese — but here are some of our favourite alternative sources to get Vitamin D:
Cod liver oil
This is different than normal fish liver oil. While both possess omega-3s, cod liver oil boasts much higher amounts of vitamins A and D.
Not all mushrooms are created equal, although all have varying amounts of vitamin D. For those with the highest content, buy portobello, maitake, morel, button, or shiitake. Pro tip: if you leave your mushrooms in the sun for even just 20 seconds, they’ll soak up additional vitamin D.
Our Dream of Mushroom Soup is a wonderfully comforting dish that’s packed full of portobello and button mushroom goodness and makes it easy to get some extra mushrooms in your diet.
Fortified Soy or Almond Milk
Check the label of your favourite milk to see if it’s fortified with vitamin D. This can be a great way to sneak extra into your diet — be sure to check the labels of things like tofu, as well. Some brands might add vitamin D.
That being said, protecting your skin is just as important as making sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. Don’t go outside for more than 10-20 minutes without sunblock, and take proper precautions to avoid getting burnt.
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