Vitamin D is obtained mainly through sunlight exposure, although some foods contain significant levels. Salmon has one of the highest vitamin D levels of all foods, containing 360IU in one three and a half ounce serving. Three quarters of American teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D, which is concerning because vitamin D plays such a crucial role in our health.
Bone health is very dependent on vitamin D levels, with diseases like rickets, osteoporosis (weak bones), and osteomalacia (bone pain) correlated with vitamin D intake. Vitamin D is also important for the heart and blood vessels. The immune system works much more effectively when the body has sufficient vitamin D levels, helping the body fight off illnesses and autoimmune diseases like cancer.
Besides vitamin D, salmon contains vitamins A and B as well as minerals like iron, calcium, selenium, and phosphorus. Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which is a nutrient that most Americans could use more of. An ideal ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids is about 2:1 or 1:1. Because of the high processed food and vegetable oil consumption rates, many developed world citizens have a ratio that contains much higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids keep the arteries and veins flexible, and increase the strength of cardiac muscles. They also contribute to the prevention of macular degeneration, dryness in the eyes, loss of vision, and eye fatigue. Perhaps their best known attribute, omega-3 fatty acids increase the efficiency of the brain and improve memory.