Surprisingly, even though India has an abundance of sunlight, most of the population lacks vitamin D. According to a report published in 2020 by Pan-India, more than 75% of the Indian population is vitamin D deficient. The study also discovered that deficit is more prevalent among young persons aged 18 to 30.
What’s more alarming is that the study predicts that more vitamin D insufficiency may arise in the future years. You may be deficient in vitamin D, but you aren’t aware of it.
When you think about vitamin D, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is sunlight. And while it’s true that sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, it’s also true that prolonged sun exposure raises the risk of skin cancer.
Then what’s the safest way to get enough amount of vitamin D?
That’s right, foods!
Foods are the major source of nutrients for your body. India is a nation of foodies, and there are many vitamin D rich foods that you can use to get your daily dose.
In this post, I’ve highlighted 12 of the best vitamin D rich Indian foods that you should include in your diet.
But first, let’s see why Vitamin D is important for you.
Also read: 20 Best Calcium Rich Foods In India For Strong Bones
Importance of Vitamin D
When it comes to a healthy diet, most people focus on increasing their protein, fiber, and iron intake. However, the importance of vitamin D is often overlooked.
Vitamin D is one of the essential vitamins required by the human body. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is synthesized when ultraviolet(UVB) rays from the sun strike the skin.
It is important for many reasons such as:
- Reduces the risk of heart disease.
- It helps to boost immune health.
- A good amount of vitamin D is needed to fight depression.
- Support weight loss.
- Reduces the chances of developing high blood pressure.
- It promotes calcium absorption.
- Prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
- When combined with calcium, Vitamin D can help to minimise the risk of osteoporosis.
Now you know that vitamin D is important for your body, but how can you tell if you’re deficient? This is what we’ll talk about in the next section.
Signs that you are low in Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is among the most common deficiency around the world. It’s difficult to predict if you are deficient in vitamin D or not without a blood test. However, there are some warning signals that may indicate that your vitamin D levels are low.
Here are some common signs that you may be low in vitamin D:
- You feel fatigued and have no energy.
- You have trouble sleeping.
- Weak immune system.
- Joints pain and muscle weakness.
- Depressed mood.
- If you are overweight, it’s possible that you may be low in vitamin D.
12 Vitamin D Rich Foods In India
Few foods naturally contain vitamin D in India. So, to help people increase vitamin D intake for people, the food industry has begun fortifying foods with nutrients.
Natural vitamin D rich foods in India
Fish are the best natural sources of Vitamin D.
Indian salmon, popularly known as the rawas, is one of the most popular and extensively consumed fish in India. It is a low-fat, high protein fish. It is well-known for its delectable taste and white texture.
It’s a great source of vitamin D, providing more than a day’s worth in just a single serving.
Furthermore, eating rawas has many other benefits, such as better brain functioning and a low risk of heart disease.
Sardines are tiny, nutrient-dense, oily fish available in many parts of India. These are a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and selenium.
In addition, sardines(especially canned) are a great source of vitamin D, containing 117IU or 22% of the daily value in 107 grams.
It is extremely popular among Keralites and people of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and coastal Karnataka.
In India, sardines are a low-cost delicacy since they are less expensive than larger fish such as seer or pomfret. They’re served in a variety of ways, including deep-fried and pan-fried dishes and several types of curries.
Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil is a type of oil made from the liver of the cod fish. It is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E.
This oil has been used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments for a long time.
It’s now used as a dietary supplement and a treatment for conditions like arthritis, asthma, and cardiovascular disease.
If you don’t like fish, this oil can be used to supplement your diet with Vitamin D. It contains 440IU of Vitamin D per 4.9ml, which is more than half of the daily requirement.
You don’t have to limit your vitamin D intake to seafood; there are a variety of other vitamin D-rich foods to choose from, including egg yolk.
Egg yolks are a good source of natural Vitamin D to include in your diet.
A single egg yolk contains 37 international units (IU) of vitamin D, equivalent to about 5% of the daily value.
Mushrooms are a type of fungus that can be found all over the world. There are over 140,000 different types of mushrooms, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some mushrooms are edible, while others are poisonous.
Just like humans, when mushrooms are exposed to the sun, they produce vitamin D. As a result, mushrooms are an excellent natural source of vitamin D.
The most common form of vitamin D in mushrooms is D2, with small amounts of vitamins D3 and D4.
Mushrooms are the only non-animal, unfortified natural vitamin D food source that can give a significant amount of vitamin D2 in a single serving.
Always choose wild mushrooms over commercially grown ones because they contain a higher natural amount of vitamin D.
Butter is a dairy product made by churning cream or milk to separate the butterfat from the buttermilk. It’s typically used as a condiment or spread on bread, toast, and other breakfast items.
Unless fortified, dairy products are typically low in vitamin D. However, butter is a good source of vitamin D, containing 60 IU per 100 grams, or about 7 to 8% of the daily value.
Fortified vitamin D rich foods in India
With being the largest dairy producer globally, India is also the largest milk consumer.
However, despite being a good source of calcium, regular milk lacks vitamin D. For that reason, manufacturers fortify milk with vitamin D to help complete daily intake.
Also, the calcium and vitamin D in milk support each other, as vitamin D aids calcium absorption into your bones, thereby strengthening them.
On average, a serving of 237ml of Fortified milk can provide you with between 50-100 IU of vitamin D.
Soy milk is another fortified product used to get a daily dose of vitamin D.
It is plant-based milk made by soaking dry soybeans and then grinding them into a liquid. The result is white to light yellow milk with a slightly nutty taste.
Naturally, soy milk doesn’t contain vitamin D, but after fortifying, it can have anywhere between 100 IU to 120 IU vitamin D in a cup.
Also, soy milk is naturally low in lactose and, therefore, can be enjoyed by lactose-intolerant people.
Yogurt is a good source of probiotics, calcium, and protein, but it is naturally low in vitamin D.
Fortified yogurt is an excellent way to get vitamin D because it is a food that many people enjoy. It is also a good source of other nutrients.
According to a study, Compared to non-fortified yogurt, Vitamin D-fortified yogurt has been shown to improve serum, lipid profile, glucose metabolism and decrease parathyroid hormone levels in pregnant women and adults.
Not everyone can consume dairy products(especially people who are lactose intolerant). For those people, fortified orange juice is the safest way to get a daily vitamin D dose.
Fortified orange juice is a type of juice that has been enriched with extra vitamins and minerals. This can include but is not limited to, calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin D.
According to a study, fortifying orange juice with vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 is just as effective in maintaining vitamin D status in children and adults as taking an oral vitamin D supplement.
Breakfast cereals are one of the best options to increase your vitamin D intake early in the day.
Cereals are a good source of vitamin D, but the amount of nutrients they provide depends on the brand and the type of cereal. Some cereals are fortified with vitamin D, while others are not.
Cereals like corn flakes, oatmeal are good with vitamin D. Plus, adding some milk, whether almond, soy, or regular, will boost your vitamin intake even further.
Just like regular milk, almond milk is often fortified with vitamin D.
A single cup serving of almond milk may contain 100 IU of vitamin D or 25% of the daily value.
Furthermore, almond milk has fewer calories than soy milk, contains more heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and is lactose-free.
How to boost your vitamin D levels?
Sometimes daily recommended vitamin D cant be fulfilled by diet alone. As a result, you need to make a solid strategy to improve your daily vitamin D intake.
Here are some ways through which you can boost your vitamin D intake:
Spend time outdoors
The best way to get your daily dose of vitamin D is to expose yourself to sunlight.
Although there is no official recommendation, sources claim that 10–15 minutes of exposure per day is enough to produce enough vitamin D for lighter-skinned people.
Darker-skinned people may require more exposure time.
Use less sunscreen cream
Sunscreen cream protects you from sunburn by blocking UVB radiation from the sun. However, these same radiations are required to produce vitamin D in your body.
According to research, sunscreen use has been linked to an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Even though field trials and observational studies indicate that the risk is low, it is still recommended that you use less sunscreen.
Use UV Lamp
UV lamps are a type of lamp that emits ultraviolet radiation. Though these lamps can be quite expensive, these are excellent ways to boost your vitamin D intake.
However, safety is a major concern with these devices, as too much exposure can cause problems such as sunburn.
Do not expose yourself to the UV lamp for more than 15 minutes.
Vitamin D supplement
Taking a Vitamin D supplement is another great way to increase your vitamin D intake. It is often the last option people go with when deficient in vitamin D and suffer from bone problems.
Always consult your doctor before taking any supplement.
While getting vitamin D from the sun is the best and most cost-effective way to get it, you can also get it from certain foods.
Vitamin D is essential for your bones and the foods listed above are without a doubt the best sources of vitamin D. If you include these foods in your diet, you’ll get all of the vitamin D you require.
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Are there any other vitamin D-rich Indian foods that I missed? Please let me know in the comments section below.
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