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During Shorter Days, Stock Up on your Vitamin D!

Winter solstice (December 21st) is right around the corner, which means our days are getting shorter and shorter. While people aren’t plants which reset over the winter months, the lack of sunlight during winter can affect your health.

Why is the lack of sunlight an issue?

Most of the Vitamin D we obtain is made after our skin is exposed to sunlight. Winter months with little sunshine means we produce less Vitamin D. This is why Vitamin D deficiency rates often rise during the winter.

Why do we need Vitamin D?

Vitamin D helps maintain normal calcium and phosphorus concentrations, which ensures proper mineralization of our bones. It also benefits muscle development, cardiovascular health, blood pressure, immune function, and fights inflammation.

How can I increase my Vitamin D intake naturally?

Vitamin D-rich foods should be regularly consumed in the winter months. Vitamin D3 is found in animal foods, and vitamin D2 is found primarily in plant and fortified foods. When it comes to dietary intake of high vitamin D foods, sources of vitamin D3 are better at improving your vitamin D status. 

You can increase vitamin D intake with foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Here are a few suggestions: 

  • Eat fatty fish (that are also low in mercury) twice a week. Great examples of fatty fish are salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring. 
  • Consume egg yolks.
  • Purchase and eat mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light. Monterey Mushroom is one company growing these Vitamin D-rich mushrooms.
  • Consume fortified foods such as plant-based mils, orange juice, cereals, and instant oatmeal. 

Salmon Stuffing Cakes


Here’s a delicious recipe for Salmon Stuffing Cakes. When choosing your salmon at the grocery store, look for wild caught salmon instead of farm raised. The wild caught salmon contains higher amounts of Vitamin D.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms 
  • 2 celery stalks with leaves 
  • 2 Tbs avocado oil, divided 
  • 2 slices gluten free bread- such as Simple Kneads or Base Culture 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbs avocado oil mayo
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped  
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • sea salt to taste 
  • pepper to taste 
  • 1  6 oz can wild caught salmon, drained

Directions:

Peel and chop onion. Thinly slice celery. Finely chop mushrooms.

Warm 1 Tbs avocado oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and mushrooms to skillet and sauté for 7-8 mins until soft. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, crumble bread slices into crumbs. Add onion mixture, egg, mayo, fresh parsley, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Stir until combined. Stir in drained salmon. Form into 5 small patties. Heat 1 Tbs avocado oil over medium heat in skillet. Brown salmon patties in skillet, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

Need a good recommendation for a healthy fiber-packed gluten free bread? 

Try Simple Kneads or Base Culture.


1 Pan Roasted Mushroom Burgers

Mushrooms are one of the few plant foods with the ability to increase our vitamin D levels. Mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light can provide the diet with considerable amounts of vitamin D2.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms 
  • 1 small onion, peeled and quartered 
  • 1 can beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled 
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts 
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbs prepared mustard 
  • 1 Tbs coconut aminos 
  • 2 eggs 
  • sea salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place mushrooms, onion, beans, and garlic on large baking sheet. Spread out evenly in a single layer leaving about 1/4 of baking sheet empty (to add oats and walnuts later). Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and add oats and nuts. Spread out into thin layer on pan. Return to oven and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and add mushroom and bean mixture to food processor. Add spices and eggs. Pulse to combine until chunky mixture forms. Form into 6 patties, place on baking sheet, and return to oven at 350 degrees.

Bake for 20- 25 minutes. 


Remember, it can still be difficult to meet vitamin D recommendations through diet alone. 

You should keep a close eye on your vitamin D levels, especially in winter months. Speak with your doctor or provider about regular testing, monitoring, and the need for supplementation. Vegans and vegetarians have been shown to have a lower intake of vitamin D and should be especially diligent in monitoring their vitamin D level.

 

Recipes © 2020 Aubrey H. Moore, DCN, RDN

References:

 

Cardwell, G., Bornman, J. F., James, A. P., & Black, L. J. (2018). A Review of Mushrooms as a Potential Source of Dietary Vitamin D. Nutrients, 10(10), 1498. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10101498

 

Haytowitz, D. B. (n.d). Vitamin D in mushrooms. USDA Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center. Retrieved from https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400525/Articles/AICR09_Mushroom_VitD.pdf

 

Lehmann, U., Gjessing, H. R., Hirche, F., Mueller-Belecke, A., Gudbrandsen, O. A., Ueland, P. M., Mellgren, G., Lauritzen, L., Lindqvist, H., Hansen, A. L., Erkkilä, A. T., Pot, G. K., Stangl, G. I., & Dierkes, J. (2015). Efficacy of fish intake on vitamin D status: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 102(4), 837–847. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.114.105395

 

Lu, Z., Chen, T. C., Zhang, A., Persons, K. S., Kohn, N., Berkowitz, R., Martinello, S., & Holick, M. F. (2007). An evaluation of the vitamin D3 content in fish: Is the vitamin D content adequate to satisfy the dietary requirement for vitamin D?. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 103(3-5), 642–644. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsbmb.2006.12.010

 

Saternus, R., Vogt, T., & Reichrath, J. (2019). A Critical Appraisal of Strategies to Optimize Vitamin D Status in Germany, a Population with a Western Diet. Nutrients, 11(11), 2682. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11112682

 

Schmid, A., & Walther, B. (2013). Natural vitamin D content in animal products. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 4(4), 453–462. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.113.003780

 

Simon, R. R., Borzelleca, J. F., DeLuca, H. F., & Weaver, C. M. (2013). Safety assessment of the post-harvest treatment of button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) using ultraviolet light. Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, 56, 278–289. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2013.02.009

Aubrey H. Moore, DCN, RDN

Aubrey Moore is a registered dietitian. She specializes in functional nutrition, providing individualized personal guidance that focuses on whole food as medicine.