As Daylight Ends, Please Pass the Vitamin D
When Daylight Saving Time officially comes to an end this Sunday, Nov. 2, it’s gonna be a whole lot darker around here.
Once we collectively reverse the hands of time on our alarm clocks, we lose an hour of precious sunlight at supper but get it back (at least for a while) at breakfast.
Here in Seattle, the conversation has turned to the rapidly diminishing light, the marvels of something called a dawn simulator, and most interestingly for this native east coaster, the importance of Vitamin D.
As kids growing up in the '70s, we were told to drink our Vitamin D-enriched milk because it makes our bones and teeth strong. These days, scientists say the benefits are much more far reaching, protecting us from a host of diseases, including diabetes, osteoporosis and certain kinds of cancer.
Was there anything other than milk, I wondered, that I could add to my diet to keep the Vitamin D levels in good standing? After all, sunlight, which is in short supply for the next several months, was not an option.
This of course, led me to my next question: How much do I need, anyway? The recommendations vary greatly, from 200 I.U. (International Units, a unit of measure you’ll find on vitamin labels) to 2,000 I.U per day. Earlier this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that it was doubling its Vitamin D recommendation for children, from 200 I.U. to 400 I.U. (The Institute of Medicine has long recommended 200 units for anyone up to 50 years of age)
As I discovered, the list of Vitamin D-rich foods is short; other than the aforementioned milk (which is fortified), the choices include oily fish (salmon, tuna and mackerel), egg yolks, beef liver, fortified cheese, orange juice and breakfast cereals and the dreaded cod liver oil, the first place contestant clocking in at 1,360 I.U. per tablespoon.
For vegans, this list is practically of no use -- particularly for those in northern, minimally sunny environs. That means being diligent about taking a daily supplement -- and perhaps eating sun-kissed mushrooms. Apparently, when exposed to sun, mushrooms become Vitamin D magnets. Has anyone seen -- or tried -- the packaged portobellos from Dole or Sun-Bella, just out on the market this year? The claim is that you can get your daily Vitamin D quota from eating a few of these. If you know anything, pipe up in the comments area.
And if you've got any other nifty Vitamin D tricks, please say so.
Today at 1 ET, join me for this month's What's Cooking Vegetarian .
By Kim ODonnel |
October 30, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
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