On my last post, you learned why vitamin D is so important for good health and how to safely get your D from the sun. This week, we are going to look at a few other intriguing facts about the sunshine
vitamin along with some foods that can also provide you with this precious nutrient.
(The recipe for the yummy Vitamin D Frittata can be found by scrolling down. But please enjoy all the important stuff in between.)
Just to recap, the best way to get your vitamin D is through sunshine. You could accumulate as much as 10,000 IU in 20 minutes if you fully exposed yourself. But please be discreet, and remember that you should only stay in the sun until your skin turns pink, then put on a full-spectrum suntan lotion or get back indoors. If you have darker skin, then a little more exposure is OK. I highly recommend The UV Advantage by Dr. Michael Horlicks,
which has very precise charts for obtaining vitamin D based on your skin type and where you live.
You can also see my last post for simple step-by-step instructions based on Dr. Horlick’s book.
Speaking of suntan lotion, why is “full-spectrum” important?
The Dark Side of Sunscreens
In the 1960s, companies that made sunscreens only provided UVB protection. Since it is the UVB rays that cause skin to burn, manufacturers promoted their products to sun-worshippers who could now get dark tans, without being burned. However, the irony is that it is the UVA radiation which causes pre-mature wrinkles, and is linked to melanoma. And, it is the UVB that provides vitamin D (with the help of our skin, cholesterol, liver, and kidneys).
The Environmental Working Group cautions against using sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and retinyl palminate. Both chemicals have been shown to have toxic effects and may cause cancer.
Remember, if you are not in a tropical/subtropical location, then vitamin D isn’t even available through sunlight from October through March. That’s half the year! The trick is to get as much sun as you can, safely, during the warm months, then get it through food and supplementation if necessary.
It is also a good idea to test your serum level of vitamin D. In other words, how much vitamin is floating around in your body. According to the latest research, optimal vitamin D levels to prevent disease are between 40–60 ng/ml. To find out more about testing and the many health benefits of vitamin D, go to www.grassrootshealth.net . This site is managed through a consortium of scientists, institutions and individuals committed to solving the worldwide Vitamin D deficiency epidemic.
Edible Sources of Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3
First of all, what’s the difference between the two forms? Vitamin D is a general term. Vitamin D3 is also known as cholecalciferol, and is created by skin cells, along with cholesterol, in response to UVB light. So Vitamin D3 comes from animal sources. Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, comes from plant sources.
Here’s a list of vitamin D-rich foods:
Cod-liver oil (1 Tbsp) = 1,360 IU D3
Cooked tuna, sardines, mackerel or salmon (3-3.5 oz.) = 200-360 IU D3
Egg Yolks, conventional eggs (2) = 40 IU,
Egg Yolks from 100% free range eggs (Source: Mother Earth News) (2) = 150 – 200 IU
Shiitake mushrooms (fresh, 3.5 oz.) = 100 IU D2
Shiitake mushrooms (dried, 3.5 oz.) = 1,600 IU D2
Alright, on to the frittata! Please note that it is important to choose 100% free range eggs for the highest amount of vitamin D, and the best place to get organic dried shiitake mushrooms is from www.fungi.com.
Vitamin D Frittata
1 small purple onion, thinly sliced
1/2 med red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 small zucchini, cut into small dice
1 oz. dried shiitake, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes,
then de-stem and slice
3 oz. fresh shiitake, remove stems and slice
2 tablespoons organic butter, or ghee (purified butter)
10 whole free range eggs
sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat vigorous with a fork for one minute and season with sea salt (approx. 1/2 teaspoon) and fresh ground pepper. Set aside.
Heat a an 8″ cast-iron pan on medium high and add in the butter. When the butter just begins to bubble, toss in the sliced onions and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Now add in the rest of the vegetables and shiitake and season with seal salt (approx. 1 teaspoon) and fresh ground pepper to taste. Continue to sauté until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
Now, pour the beaten eggs into the skillet and gently mix the ingredients, then place into the pre-heated oven. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the frittata is springy when you push the top with your finger.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
Cut into eight slices and serve with pesto or salsa.
Dellorta, Danielle. “Avoid sunscreens with potentially harmful ingredients, group warns”, CNN News, May 16,2012.
Horlick, Michael. The UV Advantage. New York: ibooks, Inc. 2003.
Tavera-Mendoza, Luz., White, John H. Cell Defenses and the Sunshine Vitamin. Scientific America, p. 62 – 72, November 2007.
Wehr, E., Pilz, S., Boehm, B. O., März, W. and Obermayer-Pietsch, B. (2010), Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clinical Endocrinology, 73: 243–248. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2009.03777.x