Maybe not so much! I promise that I won’t try to convince you that cod liver oil is a scrumptious treat, but I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal today about vitamin D deficiencies that I think you’ll find very interesting.
Because so many of us have been cooped up indoors for the past two years, vitamin D deficiencies have been increasing at a global level, and they are associated with increased risk of various diseases. Vitamin D is naturally absorbed in the body via absorption of sunlight’s UV rays into the skin – which, if you think about it, is remarkable! However, as we get older, vitamin D levels decline, which can lead to osteoporosis, poor bone strength, and increased risk for fractures, which we all know can be devastating for an older adult.
Geography plays a big role in these deficiencies because populations that have more sun exposure year- round more easily produce vitamin D. This is why cod liver oil is actually considered a food in Iceland, but you’ll have a hard time convincing me to make cod liver mousse!
In addition to cod liver and cod liver oil, you can get lots of vitamin D from oily fishes like trout, salmon, bluefish, anchovies, sardines, artic char, swordfish, halibut, herring, mackerel and tuna. If you’re not a fish eater, you can also boost your vitamin D by consuming egg yolks, beef liver, or foods fortified with vitamin D like milk, OJ, and cereal.
Fun fact for vegetarians! Mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D, especially if they are grown in the sunlight or with UV light exposure. Unfortunately, vitamin D content in fresh mushrooms does decline in storage, so try to buy them direct from farmers at a farmers market. Mushrooms purchased at a supermarket will almost certainly have traveled a longer way and spent a good amount of time sitting in the dark before they reach you. The good mushroom news is that D-rich mushrooms retain the vitamin when they’re sun-dried or dried under UV exposure.iThe U.S. recommended daily allowance is 800 IU for older adults. I recommend that you talk to your doctor about getting tested and come up with a plan that works for you. I realize that there are tradeoffs between getting plenty of sun exposure and skin cancer, and that not everyone looks forward to eating cod liver mousse for breakfast, but be sure to somehow get enough of this important vitamin – it’s just so important to prevent a fracture.