Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

Many people in Wisconsin have low Vitamin D status due to insufficient dietary intake and lack of sun exposure. Vitamin D is found naturally in egg yolks, some fish, and fish liver oil and is often fortified in milk. Your body can also make vitamin D when your skin is exposed to UV sunlight, however, your skin generates little to no vitamin D during fall and winter months in Wisconsin. Factors such as geographic latitude, cloud cover, sun screen, time spent indoors, clothing cover and skin pigmentation can all effect the amount of Vitamin D that your body is able to absorb from sunlight. Therefore, adequate dietary intake of vitamin D is important, especially in northern climates during winter months.

Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is important for a variety of reasons. Traditionally, Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets, however, newer research has shown that this vitamin is important for the prevention of a variety of diseases. For example, Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Other studies have even shown Vitamin D to be associated with decreased inflammation, reducing the risk of allergies, decreasing dental cavities, reducing cholesterol, and the prevention of depression. It is clearly an important vitamin that plays a variety of roles in our health.

The recommend dietary intake of Vitamin D is 600 IU daily, or 800 IU if over the age of 70. As we are currently in the middle of the winter months, make sure to look at fool labels to see if you are getting a sufficient amount of Vitamin D in your diet. Good sources of dietary vitamin D include: salmon, canned tuna, cod liver oil, egg yolks, mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light, fortified milk and fortified orange juice. Interestingly, in 1923 at the University of Wisconsin, Harry Steenbock invented a technique to irradiate food with ultraviolet light to increase the Vitamin D content. His invention nearly reduced rickets in the United States and is why we have Vitamin D fortified milk today.

If you think you may not be getting an adequate amount of Vitamin D in your diet, talk to your doctor to see if you should get your levels tested or possibly take a Vitamin D supplement. Try the delicious Salmon Recipe below to add more Vitamin D to your diet.

Poached Salmon with Creamy Piccata Sauce
1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions
1 cup dry white wine
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp capers, rinsed
¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1. Place salmon in a large skillet. Add 1/2 cup wine and enough water to just cover the salmon. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, turn the salmon over, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining 1/2 cup wine; boil until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and capers; cook 1 minute more. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and salt. To serve, top the salmon with the sauce and garnish with dill.

Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts per serving:321 calories, 18 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 62 mg cholesterol, 5 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein, 0 g fiber, 321 mg sodium
Recipe Source:

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