There’s a reason why some healthcare professionals give their patients Vitamin D supplements in the fall and winter – it’s been shown that a lack of Vitamin D plays a role in SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Other studies point to Vitamin D’s role in cognitive and mood problems in older adults, and studies on overweight people showed a positive effect on mood when Vitamin D was supplemented.
Because the body makes Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, experts believe that the lower levels of sunlight in fall and winter may contribute to lower levels of Vitamin D, and hence depression.
There have been many cases of people experiencing a much-needed mood boost by consuming even more Vitamin D than the US RDA recommends (which is 200 IU). Most sources agree that 2000 IU is the safe limit of supplemented Vitamin D, although your body can synthesize much, much more than that in just a few minutes of sun exposure, sources point out.
So how do you get more Vitamin D in your diet? Supplements are an option, but many people prefer to get vitamins through foods. Here are some foods that are rich in Vitamin D.
* Oatmeal – It’s nice that a cold-weather breakfast cereal – which you might instinctively reach for when the weather turns colder – provides around 188 IU of Vitamin D per serving.
* Soy Milk – Try adding some soy milk to your oatmeal – it has about 200 IU per cup, with some brands and varieties containing more.
* Salmon – Have you ever wondered how people in far northern climates, where the sun doesn’t even shine for months in the winter, get enough Vitamin D? Their diets are rich in fatty seafood. Research supports the positive effect of fish oil on mood, and fish oil contains Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so getting it through a (healthy) fat-rich source makes sense. Sources note that wild-caught salmon is best. (Other fish with Vitamin D include cod, herring, sardines and trout.)
* Mushrooms – Canned or fresh, mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D, with almost 170 IU per 1-cup serving. White mushrooms and shitake, even dried, are considered the highest in Vitamin D.
* Eggs – One egg has about 20 IU of Vitamin D. Organic, free-range eggs may be higher in this vitamin than conventional eggs.
* Fortified Foods – While it’s not a natural form of Vitamin D, you can find significant amounts of this vitamin in enriched breakfast cereals and fortified cow’s milk.