Vitamin D is unique, because it can be obtained from food and especially from sun exposure. However, up to 50% of the world’s population may not get enough sunlight, plus 40% of people in the US they have vitamin D deficiency. This is partly because people spend more time indoors, use sunscreen when they are exposed to the sun and eat a western diet low in sources of this vitamin. The Recommended Daily Intake (IDR) is 400 IU (International Unit) of foods rich in vitamin D per day, but many health organizations recommend obtaining 600 IU. If you don’t get enough sunlight, your vitamin D intake should be close to 1,000 IU per day.
Listed below are 9 healthy foods that are rich in vitamin D.
Salmon is a fatty fish popular and also a great source of vitamin D. According to the nutrient databases, a 3.5 oz (100 grams) serving of salmon contains between 361 and 685 IU of vitamin D. However, it is generally not specified if the salmon is wild or farmed. Although this seems to be of little importance, there may be some difference. One study found that salmon caught in a wild environment contains 988 IU of vitamin D per serving of 3.5 ounces (100 grams), on average. That is 247% of the IDR. Some studies have found even higher levels of IU of vitamin D in wild salmon, reaching up to 1,300 IU per serving. On the other hand, farmed salmon, only contained 25% of that amount. However, that means that a serving of farmed salmon contains about 250 IU of vitamin D, which is 63% of the RDI.
Summary: Wild salmon contains approximately 988 IU of vitamin D per serving, while farmed salmon contains 250 IU, on average.
2. Herring and Sardines:
Herring is a popular fish tasted all over the planet. It can be served raw, canned, smoked or in vinegar. It is also one of the best sources of vitamin D that exist. Fresh Atlantic herring provides 1,628 IU for each 3.5-ounce (100 gram) serving, which is four times the IDR. If fresh fish doesn’t appeal to you, pickled herring is also a great source of vitamin D, providing 680 IU per 3.5 ounce (100 grams) serving. This is 170% of the IDR. However, pickled herring also contains a high amount of sodium, which some people may need to be careful. Sardines are another type of herring and are also a good source of vitamin D. One serving contains 272 IU, which is 68% of the RDI. It is necessary to mention that other types of fatty fish are also good sources of vitamin D. Halibut provides 600 IU per serving and mackerel provides 360 IU per serving.
Summary: Herring contains 1,628 IU of vitamin D per 3.5 ounce (100 grams) serving. Pickled herring, sardines and other fatty fish such as halibut and mackerel are also good sources of vitamin D.
3. Cod Liver Oil:
Cod liver oil is a popular supplement. If you don’t like fish, you can choose to take cod liver oil, as it is a good way to get certain nutrients that are hard to get from other sources. Cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamin D. It has been used for many years to prevent and treat vitamin and amino acid deficiency in children. Cod liver oil is also a fantastic source of vitamin A, with 90% of the RDI in a single teaspoon (4.9 ml). However, vitamin A can be toxic in large quantities. Therefore, it is best to be cautious with cod liver oil and not take more than what is needed. Cod liver oil is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which many people have deficiency.
Summary: Cod liver oil contains 450 IU of vitamin D per teaspoon (4.9 ml). It is also high in other nutrients, such as vitamin A.
4. Canned Tuna:
Many people enjoy canned tuna due to its light taste and easy accessibility. It is also usually cheaper than buying fresh fish. Canned light tuna contains up to 236 IU of vitamin D in a 100 gram (3.5 oz) serving, which is more than half of the RDI. It is also a good source of niacin and vitamin K. Unfortunately, canned tuna is often associated with methylmercury, a toxin found in many types of fish. If it accumulates in the body, it can cause serious health problems in humans. However, some types of fish represent less risk than others. Light tuna is usually a better option than albacore, and it is considered safe to eat up to 6 ounces per week.
Summary: Canned tuna contains 236 IU of vitamin D per serving. You can choose light tuna and eat 6 oz or less per week to protect against the accumulation of methylmercury.
Oysters are a type of clam that inhabit salt water. They are delicious, low in calories and full of nutrients. A 3.5-ounce (100 grams) portion of wild oysters has only 68 calories, but contains 320 IU of vitamin D, which is 80% of the RDI. In addition, a serving of oysters contains 2 to 6 times more than the RDI of vitamin B12, copper and zinc – many more nutrients than those contained in multivitamin supplements.
Summary: Oysters are packed with nutrients and provide 320 IU of vitamin D. They also contain vitamin B12, copper and zinc, in larger amounts than a multivitamin.
Shrimp are a very popular type of seafood. However, compared to most seafood rich in vitamin D, shrimp are very low in fat. Even so, they contain a good amount of vitamin D, 152 IU per serving, or 38% of the RDI. They also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, although in lower amounts compared to many other foods rich in vitamin D. Shrimp also contain about 152 mg of cholesterol per serving, which is a significant amount; Although, there is nothing to worry about, many recent studies have shown that dietary cholesterol intake does not have a great effect on blood cholesterol levels. Even the 2015 Dietary Guidelines have eliminated the upper limit of cholesterol intake, indicating that excessive cholesterol consumption is not a problem.
Summary: Shrimp contain 152 IU of vitamin D per serving, are very low in fat and although they contain cholesterol, this is not a cause for concern.
7. Egg Yolks:
Fortunately for people who do not like fish or seafood, they can opt for other sources of vitamin D. Whole eggs are another good source, and it is a wonderfully nutritious food. While most of the protein in an egg is found in egg white, fat, vitamins and minerals are found mainly in egg yolk. A conventionally grown egg yolk contains between 18 and 39 IU of vitamin D, which is not a very high amount. However, grass-raised hens that run in the field under sunlight produce eggs with levels that are three to four times higher. In addition, eggs from chickens raised with vitamin D-enriched foods can incredibly increase their vitamin content by up to 6,000 IU of vitamin D per yolk. Choosing eggs that are from chickens raised in the field or marketed for their high vitamin D content can be a great way to help meet the daily needs of vitamin D.
Summary: Commercially raised chicken eggs contain only 30 IU of vitamin D per yolk. However, eggs from chickens raised in the field or raised with vitamin D-enriched foods contain much higher levels.
Excluding animal foods enriched in vitamin D, mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D. Like humans, mushrooms can synthesize this vitamin when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. However, mushrooms produce vitamin D2, while animals produce vitamin D3.
“Although vitamin D2 helps raise blood levels of vitamin D, it may not be as effective as vitamin D3”.
However, wild mushrooms are excellent sources of vitamin D2. In fact, some varieties contain up to 2,300 IU per serving of 3.5 ounces (100 grams). On the other hand, mushrooms grown for commercial purposes are often grown in the dark and contain very little vitamin D2. It should be noted that certain brands are treated with UV light. Mushrooms of these brands may contain between 130 and 450 IU of vitamin D2 per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
Summary: Fungi or mushrooms can synthesize vitamin D2 when exposed to UV light. Only wild mushrooms or mushrooms treated with UV light are good sources of vitamin D.
9. Fortified Foods:
Natural sources of vitamin D are limited, especially if you are vegetarian or do not like fish. Fortunately, some foods that do not naturally contain vitamin D are fortified with it.
Cow’s milk, the type of milk that most people drink, is naturally a good source of many nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus and riboflavin. In several countries, cow’s milk is fortified with vitamin D. It usually contains about 130 IU per cup (237 ml), or about 33% of the RDI.
Because vitamin D is found almost exclusively in animal products, particularly vegetarians and vegans are at high risk of not getting enough vitamin D. For this reason, vegetable milks such as soy milk are often also fortified with vitamin D, apart from other vitamins and minerals that are usually found in cow’s milk. One cup (237 ml) usually contains between 99-119 IU of vitamin D, which is up to 30% of the RDI.
About 75% of people worldwide are lactose intolerant and another 2 to 3% suffer from milk allergy. For this reason, some countries strengthen orange juice with vitamin D and other nutrients, such as calcium. You can start the day with a nutritious breakfast by integrating a cup (237 ml) of fortified orange juice that contains up to 142 IU of vitamin D, which is equivalent to 36% of the RDI.
Cereals and Oats:
Certain cereals and instant oatmeal are also fortified with vitamin D. A half-cup serving of these foods can provide between 55 and 154 IU, or up to 39% of the IDR. Although fortified cereals and oatmeal provide less vitamin D than many other natural sources, they can still be a good alternative to increase vitamin D intake.
Summary: Some foods are fortified with vitamin D, including cow’s milk, soy milk, orange juice, cereals and oatmeal. They contain between approximately 55 and 130 IU per serving.
Spending some time in sun exposure, preferably in the morning, is the best way to get the daily dose of vitamin D. However, many people find it difficult or not possible to be exposed to the sun, either for work reasons or other circumstances. Getting enough vitamin D only through food is difficult, but not impossible. The foods listed in this article are some of the main sources of vitamin D available. Eating a lot of these foods rich in vitamin D is a great alternative to make sure you get enough of this important nutrient.