3 ways to increase your vitamin D intake
Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system. It’s essential that our bodies get adequate vitamin D for the body to function optimally. Studies show that vitamin D deficiencies can cause depression and mood disorders, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a common mental health concern during the dark fall and winter months.
Vitamin D has several roles in the body, such as aiding calcium absorption which helps build strong bones, teeth, and muscles, and activating neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine), the brain’s natural feel-good chemicals.
As we head into winter, we inevitably have less vitamin D from sunlight exposure. However, there are several ways we can get adequate vitamin D into our systems. Here are three ways to increase your intake:
1. Try light therapy
Light therapy is one of the easiest, non-invasive, and natural ways to treat SAD. Special light boxes which provide 10,000 lux are used to stimulate light exposure. The daily goal is 30 - 60 minutes of direct facial exposure in the morning, as this has the added bonus of resetting the circadian rhythm and stopping daytime melatonin secretion. Performed in this way, light therapy has been found to be as effective as anti-depressants in relieving SAD.
2. Take a vitamin D supplement
Research supports a connection between low vitamin D levels and SAD. Vitamin D, actually a hormone, needs UV B sun exposure in order to be processed in the body. I recommend a daily dose of 2000 IU of vitamin D3.
3. Eat more fish
Incorporate wild fish into your diet. Fish has some of the highest vitamin D concentrations, as well as omega 3s which stabilize mood and encourage optimal brain function.
Here’s a recipe by Ambitious Kitchen packed with mood-boosting vitamin D:
1 ½ pounds salmon
2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 avocado, diced
1 peach, diced
3 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons finely diced cilantro
1 lime, juiced
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Make your salmon marinade: In a small bowl whisk together avocado oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, crushed red pepper, and ginger.
Add your salmon to a large bowl skin side up (so that the salmon sits in the sauce) and pour marinade over the top. Cover and place salmon in the fridge for no more than 1 hour
While your salmon is marinating, make your peach salsa. Add avocado, peach, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper to a medium sized bowl and mix until well-combined.
Once ready to bake salmon, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place salmon on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and place marinated salmon skin side down. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until salmon easily flakes with fork. Top salmon with peach avocado salsa and serve with brown rice, black rice quinoa, or extra veggies for a full meal. Serves 4.
Directions for grilling the salmon: Preheat a gas grill over medium-high heat. I would also lightly brush both sides of the salmon (including the skin) with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Be sure to also generous oil your grill. Place salmon skin side down first on grill, close grill lid and grill about 6-8 minutes. Carefully flip salmon and cook 6-8 more minutes or until cooked well. Salmon is tricky, but it's best to undercook rather than overcook your filets.