The Most Important Nutrient You're Not Getting

Vitamin D is the nutrient of the day, year, and even decade.

Vitamin D is the nutrient of the day, year, and even decade. Vitamin D plays a role in maintaining healthy bones, but the sunshine vitamin also helps prevent certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic pain, and neurological disorders.

In these dark, cold winter months, especially if you live in the northern half of the U.S., you’re probably lacking vitamin D. Research suggests that about half of all men and women lack vitamin D and up to 70% of our children are deficient.

Individuals at highest risk for vitamin D deficiencies include:

  • Anyone who lives in a cold climate (north of 42° latitude)
  • Children and older adults
  • Those with dark skin
  • Individuals who are overweight or obese

Increasing vitamin D to at least 400 IU per day is the best way to boost vitamin D in the absence of sunlight, and here's how to do it.

ID the D
Few foods naturally contain high levels of vitamin D. Those that do include things we typically don’t like, such as cod liver oil and sardines. However, eggs and mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D, as well as milk and other dairy products like cheese and yogurt. Some 100% fruit juices, spreads, and cereals are also fortified with vitamin D.

Some of the ways I add vitamin D to my diet include:

  • Slice of Life Vitamin D3 Gummy Vitamins: If you could OD on vitamin D, I would have with these vitamins. These tangy gummy candies are fortified with 1,000 IUs of vitamin D per a two-gummy dose. I generally eat no fewer than six at a time.
  • Eggs and Eggland’s Best eggs: Eggs contain vitamin D, but if you purchase Eggland’s Best, they have four times more vitamin D than ordinary eggs. Eating two EB eggs will provide 40% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin D.
  • Mushrooms are the only fruit or vegetable that naturally contain vitamin D. Similarly to how our skin can manufacture vitamin D through UV rays from the sun, mushrooms can manufacture vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. You can find mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light that provide 100% of your DV for vitamin D per serving.
  • Wild Alaska Salmon. Wild Alaskan salmon is one of the richest sources of vitamin D you can find with up to 794 IU of vitamin D per 3 ounces cooked or nearly double your total daily intake. And, what’s great is that unlike tuna and other oily fish, wild Alaskan salmon is sustainable and has high quantities of heart-healthy omega-3s that aren't found in farm-raised varieties.

Here are two great recipes that I’ve made to impress friends.

Alaska Salmon With Horseradish, Walnuts and Herbs

Prep time: 10 mins.; cook time: 15 mins.

Servings: 2

2 Alaska Salmon fillets (4 to 6 ounces each)
Olive oil
3 tbsp horseradish sauce
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tbsp each chopped fresh chives, parsley, and tarragon
1 tbsp softened butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450º

1. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Rinse any ice glaze from frozen Alaska Salmon under cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Brush both sides of fish with olive oil and place in the pan. Roast, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine horseradish sauce, walnuts, herbs, and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Remove fish from oven and spread mixture evenly over salmon fillets.

3. Return fish to oven and roast an additional 8 to 10 minutes for frozen fillets or 5 to 6 minutes for fresh/thawed fish. Cook just until fish is opaque throughout.

Eggland's Best Roasted Vegetable & Tomato Soufflé

Servings: 4 as an entrée

Roasted Vegetables:
1 medium zucchini (about 6” long), quartered and sliced into 1/4” thick pieces
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered, about 1 cup
1 medium onion, roughly chopped, about 3/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 large Eggland’s Best eggs
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
2 sliced whole-grain, rustic-style bread, such as ciabatta or round Italian, torn into bite-size pieces
Nonstick cooking spray
3 ounces grated sharp cheese such as Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano

Large baking sheet
Parchment paper
9 x 9 or 8 x 10 baking dish or individual soufflé dishes
Wire whisk
Chef’s knife

1. Preheat oven to 400° (convection, if you have it).

2. Line baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper.

3. Place zucchini, mushrooms, and onion in large bowl. Add the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss well to coat the vegetables evenly. Place on baking sheet. Roast approximately 15 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown and vegetables are fork tender.

4. Place sliced tomatoes, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in the bowl that you tossed the veggies in. Stir to mix well. Set aside.

5. Break eggs and place in large bowl. Add milk, Dijon mustard, and parsley. Whisk until ingredients are well combined.

6. Spray baking dish with nonstick spray. Place the bread in the bottom of the dish. Top with roasted veggies. Top with tomatoes. Gently pour the egg mixture over all. Let sit 10 minutes for bread to absorb egg.

7. Bake in the center of the oven until golden and slightly puffed, approximately 20–25 minutes. Remove from oven. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

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