Sunny D- The Vitamin, Not the Juice

Heesu Park

When my doctor first told me I was vitamin D deficient, I thought that I simply needed to spend more time out in the sun. This was a bit surprising to me, considering my daily jogs and walks with my adorable dog. Little did I know that my diet played a bigger factor! In fact, if you had asked me which foods contained this vitamin, I wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer. Most people know Vitamin D as the “sunlight vitamin”, but what exactly is it? Where else does it come from?

First of all, Vitamin D is quite unique because our bodies produce this vitamin when exposed to sunlight and then convert it into a hormone. Once it has reached this stage, it can be utilized for its numerous health benefits. One of the most important functions is the regulation of calcium for strong bones. However, Vitamin D deficiency has become a widespread problem, prevalent throughout the entire world. According to the US National Library of Medicine, an estimated 40-75% of the population is deficient in this nutrient. Although some people may not experience any symptoms, others may feel tiredness, weaknesses in their bones, and more.

Food Sources

Now comes the main question: which foods contain vitamin D? Unfortunately, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, your diet may be lacking in this vitamin, just like mine was. This nutrient is naturally found in few foods, such as fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks, and beef liver. Most of our food sources for this nutrient are actually fortified with vitamin D, including dairy products and orange juice. Ironically, Sunny D does not contain the “sunlight vitamin”. No wonder I was vitamin D deficient! I wasn’t a complete vegetarian because with my parents and our Korean culture (aka Korean bbq), I knew I couldn’t eat a strictly plant-based diet. However, I did the best I could due to my love for animals, opting for more meatless meals. I’m also not the biggest fan of milk, which explains why I haven’t grown in the past 3 years! Due to my limited consumption of meat and dairy, I am both vitamin D deficient and only 5’1″.

If you’re vitamin D deficient like me, how can you fix it? First, Vitamin D supplements are crucial to ensure your adequate intake of this essential nutrient. I personally use the supplements from Nature’s Bounty. My doctor also recommended that I drink more milk, so I’ve been drinking a cup of almond milk every day. In addition, I’ve made a goal of spending more time in the sunlight, whether I’m playing with my dog, reading, or jogging. I may have a farmer’s tan and a shorts tan, but strong bones and the other health benefits are certainly worth my tan lines.

Check out more information on the topic here: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/#h3

Forrest, K., & Stuhldreher. (n.d.). Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults.        Retrieved June 31, 2016, from NCBI website: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21310306

Vitamin D. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2016, from National Institutes of Health website: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

Edited by: Arselyne Chery and Shreya Singireddy