15 Foods High in Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a key prenatal vitamin. As research has found, children whose mothers get plenty of vitamin D during pregnancy have bigger, stronger bones. Here are some ideas to help you know you're getting enough.
You probably already drink it for the calcium. But just one 8-ounce serving of vitamin D-fortified milk provides a whopping 25 percent of the adult RDI vitamin D, making milk one of the easiest ways to fit the sunshine vitamin into your prenatal diet. Make milk the star at mealtime by using it as a base for a deliciously healthy soup, like this
broccoli cheddar. What about ice cream? Sorry, but you will need another excuse to indulge; most commercial brands of ice cream use milk that has not been fortified.
With anywhere from 280 IU to over 800 IU of vitamin D per serving, salmon and other fatty fish are considered the richest food sources on earth for naturally occurring vitamin D. Farm-raised salmon tends to contain the lowest levels of vitamin D, but wild-caught salmon can contain up to 988 IU of the sunshine vitamin in every 4-ounce serving. Salmon is also a rich source for omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats your baby needs for optimal brain development. And its surprisingly easy to cook! For a quick dinner, try this made-in-minutes
Concerned about mercury levels in fish? According to the FDA, pregnant women can safely eat up to 12 ounces (two average meals) of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury, including salmon, shrimp, and canned light tuna.
When it comes to vegetarian sources of vitamin D, fortified soy products, including tofu and soy milk, are helpful foods for meeting your daily recommended intake. Depending on the brand, fortified tofu provides approximately 120 IU of vitamin D per serving. Just can’t stomach cow’s milk? You will be glad to know that fortified soy milk provides a comparable 100 IU of D per 8-ounce serving. Vegetarians are probably well-versed in soy-based cooking. But for those new to the temptations of tofu, try these family-pleasing recipes for sweet potato curry with tofu and soy glazed tofu. However you work them into your diet, tofu and soy milk serve as quality sources of low-fat protein; many brands fortify with calcium for even more good-for-pregnancy nutrition.
It’s not just for vitamin C anymore! Many orange juice brands now offer vitamin D-fortified OJ, providing up to 100 IU of the sunshine vitamin per 1-cup serving. According to at least one study, the body uses vitamin D in orange juice just as effectively as vitamin D from supplements. So why not get your day off to a D-licious start with a bowl of fortified cereal and milk and a glass of fortified orange juice? For a more even energy keel, drink fortified OJ with added pulp to slow down how quickly fruit sugars reach your bloodstream.
In the PM, orange juice can work as a surprisingly sophisticated ingredient, like in this spicy orange chicken. Or how about a refreshing alternative to sugary soda? For a healthier fizz, mix a half cup of orange juice with plain seltzer.
Fortified oats and other fortified cereal grains provide up to 40 IU of vitamin D per serving. But not all cereal is created equal. Breakfast cereals made from refined grains tend to be rapidly broken down and absorbed by the body, leading to sharp rises and falls in blood sugar (and energy) levels, especially when cereals contain added sugar. Instead, opt for fortified cereals made with whole grains for a slower-burning source of fuel. And, of course, what’s cereal without the milk? Adding a 1/2-cup serving of milk to your cereal bowl adds an additional 50 IU of the sunshine vitamin.
If you abandoned margarine a few years ago when the bad news about trans fats surfaced, you might want to give this butter substitute a second chance. Many of today’s margarines skip the hydrogenated oils in favor of heat-healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fats like olive and canola oils. And they also offer vitamin D! Fortified margarine provides around 60 IU of vitamin D per 2-teaspoon serving. Check labels carefully; some margarines are unfortunately still mired in trans fats and should be avoided. Once you’ve found a healthier choice, use sparingly to avoid plying your prenatal diet with too many extra calories.
Looking for another vegetarian-friendly source of vitamin D? Make room for mushrooms. From white button mushrooms (at 18 IU of vitamin D per serving) to dried shitake mushrooms (249 IU per four-mushroom serving), fungi naturally contain vitamin D because mushrooms, like people, are able to synthesize the vitamin through exposure to sunlight. Some brands of portabella mushrooms are exposed to UV light just before packaging, boosting vitamin D levels in a single mushroom to approximately 400 IU.
Sprinkle mushrooms in your salad, add to soups and stews for a heartier taste, and don’t forget pizza! If your meals are still in need of a mushroom make over, try this versatile recipe for sautéed mushrooms.
Another low-mercury fish to include in your prenatal diet? Sardines. Each tiny fish packs in up to 180 IU of vitamin D, but contain almost undetectable levels of mercury and other contaminants. Sardines also provide other good-for-pregnancy nutrients, too, including beneficial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium (sardine bones are edible), protein, and tryptophan, an amino acid used by the body to make mood-regulating serotonin.
How do you eat a sardine? Canned in oil or tomato sauce, sardines are a good alternate in tuna salad or can be eaten as a simple snack, served on crackers or crusty bread. For a tangy sauce that perfectly complements a steaming plate of spaghetti, sautee sardines with garlic and toss with pasta just before serving.
Canned Light Tuna
A 3-ounce serving of caned light tuna contains over 200 IU of vitamin D, making tuna an easy, economical choice for adding more sunshine vitamin to your diet. Tuna also comes packed with other good-for-pregnancy nutrients, too, including calcium, iron, folate, and magnesium, an important nutrient for supporting Baby’s growth and development. And eating tuna doesn’t just mean tuna fish sandwiches! For a tasty twist, try this
tuna pasta bake. Canned light tuna (packed in water) is considered a low-mercury fish. According to the FDA advisory on fish intake, it is safe for pregnant women to eat up to 12 ounces of canned light tuna per week.
As more is known about the health benefits of vitamin D, some brands of yogurt have begun fortifying with D, generally offering 40 IU of the vitamin per 1/2-cup serving. And there’s a lot you can do with a little yogurt in your diet! For starters, try this simple
yogurt fruit parfait or make yourself a real treat by whipping up a batch of frozen
strawberry yogurt pops. Yogurt also provides your prenatal diet with a healthy dose of calcium and live active cultures, “good bacteria, ” that may be helpful for digestion.
Cod Liver Oil
With approximately 450 IU of vitamin D in every serving, cod liver oil is a rich natural source for vitamin D supplementation (cod liver oil also provides a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids). And forget those flashbacks to the fishy stuff your grandmother made you choke down as a child. Today’s cod liver oils come flavored with pleasant fruit-flavored tastes like strawberry and lemon. Flavored liquid gel caps are also available.
It’s a good idea to discuss cod liver oil supplementation with your doctor or midwife to make sure it matches your nutritional needs. When buying oil, look for those labeled contaminant-free.
With 272 IU of vitamin D in every 3-ounce serving, how about some oyster stew for dinner tonight? Oysters are also a rich source for zinc, a nutrient that supports healthy fetal growth. But if you’re used to eating your oysters on the half-shell, you’ll need to skip this delicacy during pregnancy. Raw oysters may contain bacteria that can make you sick when you’re pregnant, even you were never bothered by the bacteria before. (Your immune system is naturally lower during pregnancy, making you more susceptible to foodborne illnesses.) Always cook oysters and other seafood thoroughly before eating.
Most cheese sold in US is made from milk that has not been fortified. But that doesn’t mean cheese is off the list as a vitamin D source. Cows, like people, make vitamin D from sunlight, and some of this vitamin D naturally ends up in milk. And though it is filled with holes, Swiss cheese tends to have the most of this natural D, offering approximately 11 IU of the sunshine vitamin in every slice. Rich in calcium, too, Swiss cheese is a tangy addition to sandwiches, like this
turkey cheese rollup .
Eggs are a good source of protein, contain beneficial amounts of iron and B vitamins, and provide your pregnancy with choline, an important nutrient for brain development. Plus, locked up in every sunny yellow egg yolk is approximately 20 IU of the sunshine vitamin, giving you a little egg-stra motivation to include this nutritional powerhouse in your prenatal diet.
To keep an egg-based breakfast from getting boring, try these egg white and turkey bacon wrap or take eggs to an elegant new level with this summer squash frittata. Just remember, egg whites don’t contain vitamin D. You must use the whole egg (or just the yolks) to get your share of the sunshine vitamin.
With 129 IU of vitamin D in every 3-ounce serving, there’s nothing skimpy about shrimp when it comes to adding a natural source of D to your diet. Low in fat and calories and low in mercury compared to other fish and seafood, shrimp is also rich in nutrients like selenium, which supports thyroid health, and vitamin B12, an important prenatal nutrient for nervous system development.
Deep-fried, battered shrimp are tasty, but can also come loaded with unhealthy fats and lots of extra calories. For a healthier take on this tiny favorite, try this shrimp and sugar snap pea stir fry; mushrooms in the recipe give the dish an even bigger vitamin D boost. For your safety, make sure shrimp is cooked thoroughly before eating.
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