A few weeks ago I was in the middle of a regular check up with my General Practitioner when she said, “Let’s do a Vitamin D test on you. Practically everyone on the east coast is vitamin D deficient.”
â€œFine, I’m sure I can’t be that deficient,â€ I said, as I thought of all the yogurt I snack on and the lattes I consume daily.
To my amazement, not only was I deficient, I had practically void of Vitamin D ! I proceeded to defend myself, saying it was unfair to take this test in the winter, when I donâ€™t get any sun. But my doctor was not buying it.
Luckily, taking a high potency Vitamin D tablet daily can easily treat low levels of Vitamin D, so I am currently “D” compliant, but the incident led me to do a little bit of research on why we all need vitamin D in the first place.
There are many types of vitamin D, but only two forms of vitamin D are important in humans: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Plants synthesize vitamin D2, while our skin synthesizes Vitamin D3 when it is exposed to ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays from sunlight.
In our bodies, Vitamin D is also used to aid in the absorption of Calcium. If not caught, low levels of Vitamin D could lead to some serious issues. Classic Vitamin D deficiency diseases are rickets (softening of bones, usually visible near the knees) and osteomalacia (the weakening of muscles and bones). Low levels of Vitamin D are also associated with an increase in depression. This is primarily dominant in the winter months, when SAD â€“ Seasonal Affective Disorder, can occur. This is when people are losing vitamin D during the winter months, and melatonin (mood regulating hormone) is being released. Normally, melatonin is suppressed in the sunlight, which allows Vitamin D to then be absorbed in your body through sunlight. The importance of Vitamin D is also relevant to post menopausal women, â€œpostmenopausal women who increased their vitamin D intake by 1100 IU of vitamin D3 reduced their relative risk of cancer by 60 to 77% (NEJM).â€
Unfortunately, the human body does not produce vitamin D, but it can be found in many foods, including: eggs, milk, cheese, beef and fish. Since vitamin D is also absorbed through your body through sunlight. Experts say as little as ten minutes of sunlight a day is enough to replenish your body of daily Vitamin D needs. Use the chart below to figure out your recommended Vitamin D intake:
Age Children Men Women Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 13 years 5 mcg
14-18 years 5 mcg 5 mcg 5 mcg 5 mcg
(200 IU) (200 IU) (200 IU) (200 IU)
19-50 years 5 mcg 5 mcg 5 mcg 5 mcg
(200 IU) (200 IU) (200 IU) (200 IU)
51-70 years 10 mcg 10 mcg
(400 IU) (400 IU)
71+ years 15 mcg 15 mcg
(600 IU) (600 IU)
Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999
Now, letâ€™s take a look at a Salmon Masala recipe that can provide you with at least 360 IUâ€™s of Vitamin D per serving!
2 pounds of Salmon
2 medium Onions, chopped
2 Green Chilies, finely chopped
4 cloves Garlic , grated
1 T Ginger, grated
1 T Coriander powder
4 T Tomato Puree
2 cups of water
Salt To Taste
2 T of Oil
1 T of Cumin seeds
2 tsp Turmeric
3 tsp Garam Masala
3 T Cilantro leaves
How to make Salmon Masala:
- Cut the salmon into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the fish pieces for 5 minutes. Drain the fish on a paper towel
- Add the onion and chilies, and fry for five minutes
- Add the cumin, turmeric, coriander powder and garam masala; fry for another 2 minutes
- Add the, garlic, ginger, coriander chutney and tomato puree.
- Add the water and salt.
- Add the fish pieces.
- Let this boil until the sauce has thickened
- Garnish with Cilantro leaves and serve with rice or roti. Enjoy!
– Kanwal Ullah
*photo source: www.bestcurry.ch