Growing up, most of us heard the mom-mantra: Don’t forget to finish your milk!

Well, once again, mom knew what she was talking about. Science just took a while to back up her claims. These days, researchers have discovered just how bad it is to be deficient in milk’s “claim to fame”—vitamin D. This single nutrient has been found to strengthen your bones, ward off cancer, and protect against tuberculosis, heart disease, diabetes, colds, and the flu!

Vitamin D is also called the sunshine vitamin because our skin actually produces it in response to sun exposure. A mere 10-20 minutes a day of sunning yourself in a tank top and shorts (without sun block) will provide all “D” wonderful nutrients you need. During the wintertime though, few of us bare enough skin or remain outside long enough to make use of this resource. That’s when we need to rely on nature’s other vitamin D source—food.

Beyond milk and milk products (cheese, yogurt), there aren’t too many options for loading up on vitamin D. If you happen to be lactose intolerant, fish, fish oils, and egg yolks will need to be your primary go-to foods. Eating a variety of vitamin D foodstuffs will ensure that you are stocked up year round with this health producing, disease preventing nutrient. Vitamin D nutritional supplements are also helpful. Taking a Calcium with D3 supplement is a great way to add more D to your D-iet.

If you are curious about your vitamin D levels, ask your doctor to order a simple blood test to see if you have enough “sunshine” in your bloodstream. Many people who were once deficit, and have now reached the recommended level of this vitamin will tell you that their bone pain and muscle fatigue has faded. And that has put the sunshine back into their smiles, for sure!

Image: Flickr

 

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