Foods with vitamin D: what are they? What does the lack of it cause?

Sunbathing daily for at least 20 minutes (protected with sunscreen) is a habit recommended by specialists, since it is through the sun’s rays that we obtain vitamin D, which is very important for the maintenance of bone structure and the prevention of related diseases to growth.

However, in addition to daily exposure to the sun, there is also another way to achieve the necessary amount of vitamin D: food.

Therefore, in this text, the Healthy Minute tells you what are the richest foods in this substance essential for our health and well-being!


How important is vitamin D for the body?

Known as the vitamin of the Sun, vitamin D has a fundamental role in maintaining health.

Vitamin D (also called calciferol or cholecalciferol) is classified as a steroid hormone whose main function is the regulation and absorption of fundamental mineral salts for the maintenance of bone tissue, such as calcium and phosphorus.

In addition, vitamin D also helps in the following actions:

  • Strengthening of teeth : facilitates the entry of important minerals into the dental arch;
  • Diabetes prevention: improves the health of the pancreas, the organ responsible for the production of insulin, a hormone responsible for reducing sugar in the body;
  • Reduction of the inflammatory process: decreases the circulation of toxic substances that are involved in the process of autoimmune diseases such as lupus, psoriasis, etc;
  • Disease prevention: reduces the formation and proliferation of malignant cells that cause some types of cancer, such as in the breasts, prostate and also diseases such as multiple sclerosis;
  • Improves cardiovascular health : controls blood pressure, reducing the risk of high blood pressure and other diseases that affect the cardiovascular system;
  • Muscle toning: invigorates and helps in the recovery of muscle tissue 
  • It decreases the chances of infections: it helps to strengthen the defense cells of the immune system.

Unlike most vitamins , which are only obtained from food, vitamin D can be produced by the body itself through the sun’s rays that reach the skin and help to synthesize this substance in the body.

Which foods are rich in vitamin D?

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Animal foods, such as fish, are one of the sources of vitamin D.

In general, vitamin D is present in a more concentrated form in foods of animal origin, such as meat, fish and eggs, however, it is also possible to find significant amounts of the substance in dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt and butter.

Some foods rich in vitamin D to include in the diet are: cod oil, salmon oil, sardines, fresh herring, smoked salmon, oysters, fortified milk, boiled egg and beef liver.

It is worth mentioning that, although consuming these foods is beneficial to the body and helps in obtaining vitamin D, it is necessary to include them in a balanced way in the diet, especially if you are in the habit of exposing yourself for long periods in the sun, since more exposure, greater activation of vitamin D – which, together with the excessive consumption of these foods, can lead to excess vitamin D in the body. 

Therefore, it is important to put together a healthy and balanced menu, in addition to controlling the time of exposure to sunlight, to ensure that the amount of vitamin D provided to the body is the correct one. In case of doubt, it is always important to seek a nutritionist.

Vitamin D and zinc

Zinc is one of the most important minerals for the body, since it is involved in about 300 enzyme reactions essential for metabolic activities, participates in protein synthesis and improves the defense system, which fights a series of bacteria and viruses that cause infections and disease.

In addition, the mineral also assists in the absorption of vitamin D by bone tissue, helping in the growth, strengthening and healthy maintenance of bone structure.

Therefore, when children and adolescents have a deficit of zinc, there is greater difficulty in mining the bones, reducing bone density and, consequently, increasing the chances of growth disorders.

Adults and the elderly should also pay attention to the amount of zinc consumed daily, as the lack of the mineral can cause the person to lose bone mass and develop  osteoporosis .

Like vitamin D, zinc is present in large quantities in foods of animal origin, however, it is also possible to obtain the mineral in grains and oilseeds.

Foods  Quantities in 100g
Cooked oysters 39 mg
Roast beef 8.5 mg
Cooked turkey 4.5 mg
Cooked veal 4.4 mg
Cooked chicken liver 4.3 mg
Pumpkin Seeds 4.2 mg
Cooked soy beans 4.1 mg
Cooked lamb 4 mg
Almond 3.9 mg
Pecan 3.6 mg
Peanut 3.5 mg
Brazil nut 3.2 mg

It is worth mentioning that according to the Recommended Daily Intake Table (IDR), the amount of zinc for adults is 11mg for men and 8mg for women. During childhood, pregnancy and old age, the amount may increase, according to medical instructions.

Vitamin D and calcium

People who have low levels of calcium in the body tend to have a more fragile bone structure and, consequently, more risk of frequent fractures, since it is an essential component for the formation of bones. In addition, the lack of this mineral can affect the mining of teeth, which are more susceptible to the formation of cavities.

Therefore, as a way to help prevent these problems, vitamin D comes into action, improving the absorption of calcium by the bones and acting in the proper calcification of this structure. In addition, it helps to maintain the density of the dental arch.

In general, calcium is obtained mainly from the consumption of milk and dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese, butter and oilseeds, as shown in the table:

Foods  Quantities in 100g
Natural yogurt 143 mg
Skimmed milk 134 mg
Whole milk 123 mg
Whole milk powder 890 mg
Goat milk 112 mg
Ricotta cheese 253 mg
Mozzarella Cheese 875 mg
Almond 270 mg
Nuts 105 mg
Peanut 62 mg
Brazil nut 146 mg
Flax seed 250 mg

The Recommended Daily Intake (IDR) of this mineral for adults aged 19 to 50 years, is 1000mg per day.

Vegan Vitamin D

The diet of people who adopt the vegan lifestyle (abstaining from any food or animal products), as expected, is low in vitamin D. In general, the only food that can be eaten by vegans and that source of vitamin D are mushrooms.

However, even if the person chooses to eat this item daily and, together with that, expose themselves to the sun properly, even so it may be necessary to use supplements that help to supplement the amount of Vitamin D that the body needs.

Thus, it is important to consult a nutritionist who will assess which is the best supplement and what should be the daily dose based on the patient’s diet. Some supplements that may be indicated by this professional are:

  • Vitamin D3 Biolab ;
  • Vitamin D Font D ;
  • Vitamin D VitaMedley ;
  • Vitamin D3 Vita Premium ;
  • Vitamin D Cimed ;
  • Vitamin D3 Sundown ;
  • Vitamin D from Santa Catarina ;
  • Vitamin D3 FDC .

On average, vitamin D supplements are sold in a pack of 30 to 100 capsules, with a price ranging from R $ 20 to more than R $ 100.

Vitamin D and K

Present in dark colored foods, vitamin K stands out for performing functions such as, for example, the blood clotting process, preventing bleeding and protecting the cardiovascular system as a whole.

In addition, vitamin K is essential for the deposition and fixation of calcium in bone tissue, contributing to the replacement and maintenance of bone structure, leaving it stable and healthy.

Therefore, vitamin K associated with vitamin D is a combination that enhances the absorption of calcium by the bones, strengthening them and helping to prevent diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis.

To have a vitamin K-rich diet, check out the 12 foods that contain this component:

Foods  Quantities in 100g
Parsley 1640 mcg
Cooked Brussels sprouts 590 mcg
Cooked broccoli 292 mcg
Raw cauliflower 300 mcg
Cooked chard 140 mcg
Raw spinach 400 mcg
Lettuce 211 mcg
Raw carrot 145 mcg
Arugula 109 mcg
Cabbage 76 mcg
Asparagus 57 mcg
Boiled egg 48 mcg

The Recommended Daily Intake (IDR) of vitamin K is 90 mcg for women (including pregnant women) and between 120 and 130 mcg for men. For children, between 30 and 60 mcg of vitamin K is indicated, but it can vary according to age.

Vitamin D for pregnant women

When it comes to pregnant women, vitamin D levels in the body must always be monitored, since deficiency of the substance can cause gestational diabetes , pre-eclampsia (hypertension during pregnancy) and premature birth .

Thus, to avoid complications, it is important that during pregnancy women follow the guidelines given by a doctor regarding the consumption of foods rich in vitamin D and also the time of daily sun exposure.

On average, pregnant women should reach between 5,000 to 10,000 IU / day, so that the vitamin D level is above 40 ng / ml (adequate level). In some cases, it may be necessary to supplement the amount of vitamin D with the use of supplements, which must be indicated by a nutrology / nutrition professional.

Vitamin D and phosphorus

Like calcium, phosphorus is a mineral that contributes to healthy growth and proper maintenance of bone structure.

In addition to these functions, phosphorus assists in important metabolic processes in the body, as, for example, it is part of the nucleic acids present in DNA. Because of this, it is the second most abundant mineral in the body, second only to calcium.

To ensure a good use of this mineral, vitamin D plays the role of enhancing the absorption of phosphorus by the small intestine, avoiding problems that may occur due to the lack of this component, such as muscle fatigue , weakening of hair, nails and bones.

Some foods rich in phosphorus are:

Foods  Quantities in 100g
Roasted pumpkin seeds 1172 mg
Almond 520 mg
Sardine 425 mg
Brazil nut 600 mg
Dried sunflower seeds 705 mg
Natural yogurt 119 mg
Peanut 376 mg

According to the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA), the ideal consumption of phosphorus for a healthy adult is around 700 mg per day . Other groups such as pregnant women, children and the elderly are advised to seek a nutritionist, as the amount may vary.

Which foods contain vitamin D2 and D3?

Foods containing vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (calciferol) are the same : dairy products (milk, butter, cheese) and foods of animal origin, such as liver, sardines, salmon, oysters and eggs.

However, there are differences in the form of activation of these substances in the body, since both need to undergo a process of metabolism to activate and, thus, be ready to be used.

Vitamin D2, obtained only through food and supplements, to be activated needs to be metabolized by the liver, transformed into calcidiol and then transported to the kidneys to undergo a second metabolization step, thus becoming calcitriol (ready for used). Vitamin D3 is activated differently.

It follows the same metabolic processes by the liver and kidneys, however, before passing through them , vitamin D3 is stored in the body in its inactivated form, which, consequently, is deposited in the skin cells, being activated when the sun’s rays reach and transform into cholecalciferol.

So, while vitamin D2 follows the metabolic pathway through two organs, liver and kidneys, vitamin D3 needs the sun that falls on the skin, to reach the liver and kidneys.