Vitamin D is surely the darling of supplements at the moment. More and more exciting news keeps coming out about this Wonder Vitamin and its beneficial effects in reducing the chances of many kinds of cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders. The research is simply too groundbreaking to ignore.
I wrote a couple of posts last year about how the seasonal flu is really just Vitamin D deficiency disease and why I take a fermented cod liver oil supplement every day even when I get good doses of midday Florida sunshine. I find the role of Vitamin D in the body and its ability to preserve health and reduce inflammation of all kinds very exciting.
Even conventional doctors are jumping on the bandwagon and more frequently testing their patients’ Vitamin D levels and recommending supplementation as most Americans have levels way too low to reap any Vitamin D health benefits. By some estimates, over 90% of Americans are deficient in this critical nutrient.
While I think the enthusiasm over Vitamin D is wonderful, I personally do not feel comfortable with the casual way that high dose Vitamin D supplements are being recommended by healthcare professionals and eagerly consumed by an ever expanding public at large.
In some ways, it seems almost like Vitamin D has become just another drug!
Taking a single vitamin or nutrient in isolation is a practice that should be used with caution especially with Vitamin D which is fat soluble and can result in blood levels that are toxic.
For this reason, the Weston A. Price Foundation, with which I am in complete agreement, recommends a daily cod liver oil supplement. A whole food source like cod liver oil supplies not only Vitamin D, but also Vitamin A and other nutritional cofactors which work synergistically to prevent toxicity (not all brands are created equal, though, so click here for a list of vetted and tested brands).
What if your Vitamin D blood levels are so low that you can’t take enough cod liver oil each day to bring them up very quickly?
What if you live in a climate where getting a decent dose of midday UVB sunshine to produce Vitamin D via the skin is not an option for a substantial portion of the year?
Clearly, taking more than a teaspoon or two of cod liver oil each day to try and boost Vitamin D levels is not the answer in these situations. Too much cod liver oil each day results in consuming too many omega 3 fatty acids. Too many omega 3 fats is just as bad as too little as both scenarios result in inflammatory conditions in the body.
In those instances, then, larger doses of Vitamin D are obviously required in addition to the daily dose of cod liver oil.
However, there is a better and safer way to increase your Vitamin D blood levels quickly without those potentially dangerous high dose Vitamin D drops and pills!
Fish Eggs: Traditional Sacred Food to the Rescue
Fish eggs, also known as fish roe, were highly prized by the natives of South America who would sometimes travel hundreds of miles from their mountain villages down to the sea to procure it in dried form. This superfood was then provided to women of childbearing age to ensure healthy and robust babies and children.
The Eskimos also consumed fish roe from a number of fish species, particularly salmon. Fish eggs were dried for consumption during winter months and for special feeding to pregnant women.
It is no wonder fish roe was so highly prized by isolated natives. According to an analysis carried out by the Weston A. Price Foundation, a single tablespoon of fish roe contains approximately 17,000 international units of vitamin D! In addition, fish roe contains vitamins A, K2, zinc, iodine, and the brain supporting omega 3 fatty acid DHA in ample amounts.
One tablespoon of fish eggs, then, supplies a similar amount of Vitamin D as a midday dose of Vitamin D on the skin!
Incidentally, one tablespoon of pastured lard clocks in at 10,000 IU of Vitamin D according to tests by the Weston A. Price Foundation. This healthy fat is a great alternative for those who are allergic to fish.
Vitamin A and particularly Vitamin K2 work synergistically with Vitamin D to prevent toxicity and overcalcification of the soft tissues, bones, heart, and/or kidneys, hallmark symptoms of Vitamin D overdose. The K2 can be the animal form (MK-4) or the fermented form (MK-7).
Given this information, doesn’t it seem much more wise to use fish eggs as that big Vitamin D boost rather than potentially dangerous and untested Vitamin D drops and pills?
The truth is that no one really knows what the long term effects of taking large doses of Vitamin D in isolation will be. Do you really want to be a guinea pig or do you want to use the safe and effective Vitamin D boost that the Eskimos and traditional mountain dwelling tribes of South America used when sunlight was not a readily available option?
Where to Get Fish Eggs?
I buy small glass jars of salmon roe at gourmet grocery stores for as little as ten to fifteen dollars.
The brand of fish roe I buy has only 3 ingredients: fish roe, salt, and water. Make sure you find roe without any preservatives or colors added.
If you can find a fresh or dried source of caviar, so much the better!
I love my salmon roe right off the spoon. I eat 1/4 – 1/2 tsp in the morning with breakfast a few times a week. They are so salty and delightful. If you aren’t sure you like it at first, try it a few more times as fish roe can sometimes be a bit of an acquired taste.
If you simply can’t get used to fish eggs off the spoon, try some topped on whole grain crackers with some creme fraiche.
In my mind, fish eggs are a much superior – and delicious method for quickly raising and maintaining optimal Vitamin D levels.
What is your favorite way to eat fish roe? Do you like it off the spoon like I do?
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.