Top 10 Fruits and Vegetables Rich in Vitamin D
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Mushrooms exposed to sunlight, fortified orange juice, almond and soy milk, tofu, breakfast cereal and oatmeal, some leafy greens, and cod liver oil are the fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin D, which is one of the important, fat-soluble micronutrients required for the health of bones, teeth, brain, heart, and lungs. Our skin is capable of producing this vitamin upon exposure to sunlight. This vitamin can be richly found in animal sources such as fatty fish, liver, cheese, and fortified milk.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, important for the intestinal absorption of calcium, phosphate, and magnesium. Besides, it involves in key biological functions of the body such as the maintenance of bones and teeth, supporting the brain, nervous system as well as the immune system, regulation of insulin levels in the body and hence, helping in diabetes management, supporting lungs and heart, and regulation of gene expression to prevent cancer.
The reference daily intake (RDI) of vitamin D is 400-600 IU. Here, the uniqueness of vitamin D is with our skin's ability to produce it from cholesterol upon sun exposure. However, half of the world's population suffer from vitamin D deficiency; it is 40% in the US. Vitamin D deficiency can cause conditions such as rickets, osteomalacia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, skin pigmentation, etc.
What are the Sources of Vitamin D?
This vitamin does not occur in most of the foods naturally. But, some of the animal sources rich in vitamin D are fatty fish like herring, salmon, tuna, and mackerel, beef liver, cheese, oysters, shrimp, egg yolk, and fortified milk.
The main part of the vegan sources of this vitamin includes the mushrooms. Other fortified food types become rich sources of the vitamin as well. Top 10 vegan sources of vitamin D are described below.
- Maitake mushroom - This mushroom is delicious and the richest source of vitamin D among vegan foods. It is a low-calorie source as well and is also called 'hen in the woods'. One cup of maitake mushroom contains more than 700 IU of vitamin D. This mushroom can lower blood pressure while reducing the risk of diabetes.
- UV-exposed portabella mushroom/ common mushroom – Regular portabella mushroom grown in dark contains a fewer amount of vitamin D. But, upon the exposure to the UV light, this mushroom becomes an excellent source of vitamin D, containing 375 IU in a single mushroom.
- Chanterelle mushroom – This mushroom is another type of vitamin D rich mushroom, containing 100 IU per cup. Also, it is a source of a low calorie as well.
- Shiitake mushroom – It has a vital role in cardiovascular disease and immune disease. Also, it is a rich source of vitamin D, vitamin B, and iron.
- Fortified cereal and oatmeal – It is a common practice to fortify breakfast cereal with vitamins and minerals. Typically, a cup of dry cereal may contain 100 IU of vitamin D. Also, since breakfast cereal is made up of whole grain, it is low in sugar and rich in fiber.
- Almond milk and soy milk – They are plant-based milk rich in vitamin D. Generally, one cup of almond milk contains 25% of the RDI of the vitamin. One cup of fortified, soy milk contains about 100 IU of it. Although animal sources are rich in vitamin D, vegans are not going to get their recommended amount of the vitamin. In that sense, these are good sources of it for the vegans.
- Tofu – It is a soft, white paste made from soybeans and is packed with vitamin D. Tofu is also rich in protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Orange juice – It is rich in calcium and usually fortified with vitamin D. In general, one cup of orange juice contains up to 140 IU of the vitamin. Although most of the cow's milk is also fortified with the vitamin, people with lactose intolerance and milk allergy cannot be able to consume it. For them, orange juice provides a good substitute.
- Leafy greens – Some of the leafy greens such as spinach, parsley, and broccoli are considered to contain vitamin D and hence, they are used in the production of many of the vitamin D supplements.
- Cod liver oil – This is a dietary supplement derived from the liver of the codfish. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A as well as vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which plays a vital role in the maintenance of our organs. It is produced by our skin upon sun exposure. Vitamin D richest foods are mainly animal-based. However, there are some fruits and vegetables that are also rich in vitamin D such as mushrooms, fortified orange juice, oatmeal and breakfast cereals, soy and almond milk, and leafy greens.
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A Molecular Biologist and a Professional Science Writer, also interested in Nature-Related Things
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