Sunlight or Fish: What's the Better Source of Vitamin D?
People need numerous different compounds and substances in their bodies to stay healthy. These vitamins and nutrients come mostly from the foods we eat. There are six classes of nutrients—also known as essential nutrients—we get from the foods we eat. They are carbohydrates, lipids (which come from fats and oils), minerals, proteins, vitamins, and water.
Vitamin D has a unique position in nutrition. It's nonessential in the sense that our bodies can synthesize it, but it is essential in the sense that we can't make it without sunlight. Regardless, around 42% of the US population is deficient in vitamin D. This makes vitamin D more essential than most other nutrients in the general sense of the word.
Two of the ways we can get vitamin D are sunlight and eating fish. Which is better? The answer may surprise you.
Vitamin D From Sunlight
Your skin can synthesize vitamin D from other precursor compounds, but sunlight is essential to trigger the reaction. Staying in the sun for a long time can produce the amount of vitamin D you need. This is where the benefits of sunlight end and its risks begin.
Ultraviolet rays in sunlight can damage your skin if you become overexposed. These high-energy photons get into your cells and cause oxidative stress through free radicals. When in this excited state, free radicals cause damage all over the cell and can even cause your DNA to mutate.
Skin DNA damage from sunlight is the leading cause of skin cancer. Free radical damage also causes premature skin aging. A tan might make you look better for the party next week, but later on, you might regret not wearing sun protection. The key here, like with most things, is moderation. Get sun, but don’t get sunburned.
Vitamin D From Fish
The form of vitamin D that you get from fish is vitamin D3, which has the same chemical structure as the vitamin D that your skin produces (unlike vitamin D2 supplements). However, eating fish has none of the risks posed by sunlight.
Fish like cobia whitefish are rich in another essential nutrient many people are deficient in—omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids promote brain health, heart health, and overall well-being. This makes fish a far better source of vitamin D than sunlight. However, for most of us, getting both—plenty of sunshine in moderation and eating a steady diet of fish—is the way to go.
Want to add vitamin D-rich whitefish like cobia from Open Blue to your diet? Order open-ocean whitefish online from Open Blue. We are a leading cobia fish supplier in the US, offering sustainable whitefish from our open-ocean aquaculture farm off the coast of Panama.