Young or old, it doesn’t matter. We all need vitamin D and calcium.
While you might think it’s only for bone health, if you want your heart to beat and your blood to clot, you should make friends with these two essentials for living.
What if you don’t get enough of either?
Read on for 10 ways you can get more of the sunshine vitamin and her (or his) mineral friend—calcium.
1. You Are My Sunshine
Vitamin D, often called the sunshine vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin. It’s part of a group of compounds, which includes vitamin D1, D2, and D3.
If you spend time in the sun, your body produces vitamin D3. If direct exposure is how you choose to take your daily dose, make sure you go outside. Sunlight streaming in through a window doesn’t count.
How much time in the sun you need depends on:
- Time of day
- Where you live
- Skin color
- Amount of skin exposed
Generally, people living closer to the equator can produce vitamin D from sunlight year-round. Also, if you’re on top of a mountain, you make more vitamin D. The sun is more intense at higher altitudes.
You can also get vitamin D by eating certain foods. Let’s start by looking at dairy products.
2. Drink More Milk
Cow’s milk supplies calcium naturally, but is fortified with vitamin D. People who don’t enjoy drinking milk straight can eat cheese, yogurt, or kefir.
Lactose-free versions of dairy foods also provide calcium.
Keep reading if you don’t like dairy or are into whole foods plant-based diet. No reason for calcium or vitamin D deficiency when you have so many options.
3. Sample a Few Milk Alternatives
Maybe you don’t enjoy drinking milk, or you really hate ice cream. No judgment here!
If that’s you, you can still drink your calcium. And you can also get some vitamin D.
Try one of these plant-based milk alternatives:
In the plant-based category, you’ll also find cashew, hazelnut, oat, rice, and a 7-grain milk alternative.
These delicious libations don’t come by vitamin D naturally. A few may have a small amount of naturally-occurring calcium. But like other food products, they’re fortified.
No cashew or oat milk for you? Why not get your daily dose of D from supplements?
4. The Benefits of Vitamin D3 Supplements
Looking for a convenient way to ensure you give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs? Take a supplement.
Taking a supplement can help get you over the hump and provide your daily dose of the D vitamins and calcium.
Have we mentioned the two work together beautifully? In fact, without one, the other doesn’t function very well. Calcium helps build bones; vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.
Since so many people aren’t getting enough of either, taking a supplement can help them enjoy these benefits without worrying about not drinking or eating enough of the right foods.
5. Remember the President Who Didn’t Like Broccoli?
You may not be old enough to remember the president who didn’t like broccoli. He made way for children and adults alike to rebel against those little green trees on their dinner plates.
Don’t be like him! Make room on your plate for a variety of beautiful green vegetables, specifically, kale, collard greens, Chinese cabbage, and, of course, broccoli.
Dark leafy greens are the way to go. For a more exotic twist on calcium-rich vegetables, try okra or rhubarb. Yes, rhubarb is a vegetable!
6. For the Love of Mushrooms
Another food posing as something it isn’t—the mushroom. To be fair, the only reason some people think mushrooms are vegetables is they show up on salad bars.
Mushrooms are neither vegetables or fruits. They’re a fungus. And like humans, they can produce vitamin D if exposed to sunlight.
Now, if you know anything about mushrooms, you know they’re grown in the dark. Not many ultraviolet rays in a mushroom farm, right?
The good news for mushroom lovers is some brands grow mushrooms in ultraviolet light. The UV light spurs production of vitamin D. Mushrooms also have a tiny amount (2 mg) of calcium in each 100g serving.
7. Go Nuts for Nuts
People who need more calcium in their lives need more nuts! Some nuts are more calcium-rich than others, so stock up on almonds and Brazil nuts.
While we’re talking about nuts, let’s chat about seeds too.
Even though they’re not nuts, they’re often included in conversations about calcium. Add seeds (like sesame seeds) to your diet and get a little more calcium.
Other seeds high in calcium include poppy, celery, and chia.
8. Eat More Tiny Bones
If you feel like this is getting morbid, bear with us for a minute and let us explain.
Keep in mind, you find calcium in healthy bones. Both canned sardines and canned salmon come with edible bones. The bones are soft and you likely won’t even know you’re eating them since they have no real crunch.
Salmon packs a double punch! You get your calcium from the tiny, tasty bones. You get your vitamin D from the, well, should we say, meat? You’ll also find vitamin D in other fatty, oily fish like tuna and mackerel.
9. Ever Tried Liver?
Oh, don’t turn your nose up yet! If you’ve never tried liver and onions, you’re missing out. This is one time you can let your FOMO take over.
If you can get past the appearance of uncooked liver, a serving of cooked beef liver contains roughly 50 IUs of vitamin D. The recommended daily amount (RDA) is 600 IUs.
Speaking of liver, don’t forget cod liver oil!
Your grandparents probably took a spoonful of cod liver oil every day. If you can, ask them how it tasted. Today’s cod liver oil is often flavored with citrus, and you can also take it in capsule form.
You’ll only need a tablespoon. One tablespoon contains around 1,300 IUs of vitamin D.
10. It’s Not Always About the Egg White
Health-conscious people who like eggs often only eat the egg white. But did you know the egg yolk contains vitamin D?
Enjoy the whole egg and consume protein from the egg white and fat, minerals, and, our star, vitamin D from the yolk.
If you can find eggs from pasture-raised or free-range chickens, you may get even more vitamin D. Makes sense, doesn’t it, since we know about vitamin D and sunlight.
Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D and Calcium?
Whew! We covered a lot in a small space, didn’t we? This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a great start to help you find ways you can get more vitamin D and calcium.
If you enjoyed this post, check out the rest of our articles. You’ll find a fun array of topics, including health, lifehacks, and weird facts.