Why is Vitamin D important?

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Getting recommended amounts of vitamin D and calcium from foods will help maintain healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis. Millions of older adults have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing this condition. Muscles are important for healthy bones because they help maintain balance and prevent falls. Vitamin D is also important for a healthy heart and blood vessels for normal blood pressure. Some studies have shown that vitamin D supplements might help reduce blood cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, which are two of the main risk factors for heart disease. There have also been studies that have shown links between low levels of vitamin D and increased risk of depression because vitamin D is needed for your brain to function properly. And, last but not least, vitamin D helps your body regulate blood sugar levels. But, remember we want you to get most of your nutrients from food and beverages so talk to you doctor before taking any supplements. More information can be found online at the National Institute of Health.

Try the following recipe courtesy of the Dairy Alliance. For more information on Food for Thought programs, check us out online at Facebook or email jennifer.brown@ncsu.edu

Cheese and Spinach Strata

from the Dairy Alliance

– serves 6

1 Tbsp butter

1 (8oz) package sliced mushrooms

2 tsp salt, divided

1 (12oz) bag frozen spinach, thawed

2 ½ cups milk

4 large eggs

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp dried oregano

6 cups whole wheat bread, torn into 1-inch pieces

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Coat an 11-x7-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, add mushrooms and season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook mushrooms until soft and lightly browned. Remove from heat and let cool. Place frozen spinach in a colander and let thaw, pressing down to remove any excess liquid before using. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, remaining teaspoon of salt and additional seasonings. Place half the bread evenly in prepared baking dish, layer spinach, then mushrooms and half the cheese. Repeat the layers with remaining bread, vegetables and cheese. Pour seasoned milk and egg mixture over bread. Cover with aluminum foil and press down slightly to help milk mixture soak into the bread. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°. Bake, uncovered, 50-60 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

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