Better Nutrition January 2020



Over the past decade,

vitamin D (technically a

hormone) has become one of

the most researched nutrients—

and for good reason. Not only is it

critical for bone health, cell growth,

immune function, and other body

processes, it may also play a role

in preventing inflammation and

protecting against several forms

of cancer. There has been some

controversy around the optimal

amount: while the RDIs for vitamin

D were recently updated to 600 IU

per day for adults, some studies

suggest that a higher intake (as much

as 3,000 IU per day) is needed to

maintain optimal blood levels.

Your body naturally produces

vitamin D when UV rays from the

sun hit your skin, but in cold winter

months or northern climates—

or if you use sunscreen religiously—

you may not get enough. And because

vitamin D is naturally present in very

few foods, mostly animal products,

vegetarians and vegans are at a

particularly high risk of deficiencies.

Here’s how to meet your needs during

the coldest, grayest days of winter:


Eggs. One large, commercially

raised egg has about 20 IU of

vitamin D, but pasture-raised

versions have three to four times as

much. Eggs from chickens who were

fed vitamin D-enriched feed may have

42 • JANUARY 2020

foods & meals that heal

Eat Your D

No sun? No problem.

Try these 7 cold-weather sources

of the sunshine vitamin


as much as 500 IU per egg. The vitamin

D is concentrated in the yolk, so egg

white omelets won’t do it. If you’re

worried about fat, poach or boil eggs

instead of cooking them in oil.

RECIPE TIPS: Combine eggs, chopped

mushrooms, spinach, and grated

cheese, and bake in muffin tins for

mini-frittatas; mash hard-boiled egg

yolks with avocado and spread on

sandwiches; top braised greens with

soft-poached eggs.

2Oysters. They’re high in

vitamin D—one 3.5-ounce

serving has 320 IU—and low in

fat, with only 68 calories per serving.

Oysters are also loaded with zinc,

important for immune

function: one serving has

91 mg, or about 600 percent of the

daily value.

RECIPE TIPS: Simmer oysters with

stock, milk, onions, and garlic for a

simple stew; mix chopped smoked

oysters with cream cheese and spread

on crackers; top oysters in the shell

with lemon and garlic, and broil

until done.



Mushrooms are the only

plant source of naturally

occurring vitamin D; they contain

a type of sterol, called ergosterol, that

converts to D in the presence of

sunlight. (The primary form produced

by mushrooms is vitamin D 2

, rather

than the D 3

found in animal foods.)

But all mushrooms aren’t created

equal. Some commercially grown

mushrooms are raised in the dark,

and contain very little vitamin D. But

if they’re exposed to UV light, they can

contain high amounts—UV-exposed

portobellos, for example, have about

52 percent of the RDI per one-cup

serving. To make sure you’re getting

D, look for mushrooms that are labeled

“UV-treated” or “high in vitamin D.”

RECIPE TIPS: Brush portobellos with

olive oil and grill until tender; sauté

brown mushrooms with leeks and

tarragon; toss shiitakes with tamari

and garlic, and roast till tender.


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