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Nursing can be strenuous under even the most standard conditions. So, when you flip the switch on daily life to battle through a night shift, things can really get tricky.
Suddenly, all those “givens” you used to enjoy are no longer readily available to you—the market isn’t necessarily open on your way home from work, restaurants are serving pancakes when all you want is a hamburger and you can’t call your sister to chat after a long shift because, well, she won’t be awake for another three hours.
Then there’s that one thing you never thought your career choice might rob you of: daylight. But the fact is, there are times when a nurse simply can’t get enough of that good ol’ sunshine—especially if the night shift has come to be your bread and butter. The upside? Less exposure is a definite “yes, please” for your skin. The downside? You’ll need to seek out your daily dose of vitamin D elsewhere, keeping in mind that vitamin D is essential for healthy bones. Plus, research suggests that vitamin D may boost immunity and combat depression—all important benefits for nurses.
That said, foods rich in vitamin D can be hard to come by, and with the daily recommended value at 600 IUs, you’ve got a ways to go. So, because we want you to be as healthy and happy as can be, we thought we might put together a list of foods high in vitamin D that you can begin to incorporate into your diet now, along with some D-licious recipes that will have you eager to hop on the bandwagon (even if you’re a daytime-dweller).
1. Fatty fish. Some of the more common options include salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna and eel—also known as a sushi-lover’s dream lineup.
- Salmon. Salmon is a favorite source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but fewer fans realize that a 3-ounce sockeye salmon fillet also contains roughly 450 IU of the daily recommend 600 IU of vitamin D. And it’s easy to work with. Use this recipe to whip up a simple, delicious and filling meal you can bring to work and reheat later.
BBQ Salmon with Greens and a Sweet Potato
- 4 ounces salmon
- 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 cups kale, chopped
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 small sweet potato
- 2 teaspoons of maple syrup
- Pinch of cinnamon
Depending upon the thickness, broil the salmon for roughly 8 minutes in tinfoil and brush it with barbecue sauce. While the fish broils, sauté the garlic and kale in oil for about 6 minutes (or until tender). After washing the potato, puncture it several times prior to microwaving it for 10 minutes, and turn it just once. Top the potato with the syrup and cinnamon and serve it along with with the salmon atop the bed of kale.
- Tuna. Three ounces of canned tuna contain 200 IU, or 50 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin D. Like salmon, tuna is also a fabulous source of protein and omega-3s, and easy to introduce to an on-the-go nurse’s diet. Preparing the salad below for lunch or dinner at work is one way to go about it:
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 cups lettuce, torn into pieces
- 1 cup string beans, steamed until just tender
- 2 red potatoes, cooked and diced into quarters
- 1 tomato, cut into small wedges
- 1 hard-boiled egg, cut into 4 wedges
- 1 (7-ounce) can tuna in water, drained
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar and minced garlic. Drizzle half the dressing over the lettuce prior to adding all the remaining ingredients. Finish with the second half of the dressing.
2. Fortified breakfast cereal. Cereal has a special place in our heart. Easy on the tummy, easy to prepare and easy to store, it’s the perfect breakfast companion for any nurse. Reach for fortified cereal and you can add “an easy source of vitamins and minerals” to that same list.
Not entirely sure what you’re looking for? General Mills and Kellogg’s are two readily available cereal brands with many a’ fortified flavor:
General Mills cereals
- Fiber One
- Rice Chex (also gluten-free)
- Special K
- Rice Krispies
- Corn Flakes
- Raisin Bran
3. Fortified milk. No, really—drink your milk. One cup of fortified milk contains 98 IU, which is about 25 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin D. Soy and almond milk tend to be safe choices, since they often undergo the process of fortification to match the nutrient content found in cow’s milk.
4. Eggs. We know that egg-white omelets are all the rage right now, but before you “nope” the yolk, you should know that one egg yolk contains about 20 IU, or roughly 6 percent of your daily value of vitamin D. Plus, eggs are rich in protein, so you can enjoy that full feeling a bit longer.
Ready to reintroduce the jilted yolk to your diet? Start over (and start your day) with an egg-cellent breakfast burrito you can make in a pinch. Oh, and look—we have a recipe, comin’ in at only five ingredients:
Black Bean Breakfast Burrito
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
- 1 small whole-wheat tortilla
- 2 tablespoons salsa
This is simple enough—just scramble the eggs along with the black beans and cheddar. Spoon the scramble onto a tortilla, top it with salsa and then wrap up that bad boy nice and tight.
5. Orange juice. Aside from serving as a refreshing start to any day, 1 cup of fortified orange juice contains about 100 IU, or 25 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin D, along with a healthy dose of vitamin C.
6. Fortified yogurt. A fabulous pack ‘n’ go addition to any nurse’s lunch bag, fortified yogurt contains about 80 IU, or 20 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin D.
7. Swiss cheese. All right, so one serving of Swiss cheese only contains about 6 IU, or 2 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin D, but small changes add up, right? Plus, it’s hard to be bummed out by any suggestion that comes in the form of fresh, non-processed cheese, and to solidify our point, we went ahead and found a recipe you can make in a flash.
Apple, Ham and Swiss Cheese Quesadilla
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 (10-inch) burrito-size whole-grain tortilla
- ½ cup shredded Swiss cheese
- 2 ounces shaved deli ham
- 1 handful spinach
- ½ green apple, thinly sliced
Have a favorite vitamin D-heavy recipe? Share it with us in the comments section below!