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What Foods Have Vitamin D?

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in our overall well-being. But what foods are the best sources? Here are 8 essential vitamin D-rich foods for optimal health.

By Amber Smith; Medically Reviewed by Dr. Ahmad Talha Azam
Apr 23, 2022 1:00 AMApr 4, 2024 7:21 PM
Food sources with vitamin D
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Vitamin D is essential for overall health, but do you know what the best vitamin foods for vitamin D are? We will discuss eight of the best items that you can eat to help maintain your vitamin D levels. By incorporating some of these foods into your diet, you can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of disease.

Why Do We Need Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, enhancing immune function, and preventing diseases like osteoporosis, rickets, and osteomalacia. It's predominantly obtained through sun exposure, but in winter or for those with limited sun access, incorporating vitamin D-rich foods is vital. Note that vitamin D is fat-soluble, needing dietary fat for absorption, and its balance is crucial to avoid health issues like hypercalcemia.

What Are Fat-Soluble Vitamins?

A fat-soluble vitamin means it's stored in the liver and fatty tissues and doesn't require daily intake. This category, which includes vitamins A, D,, E, and K, highlights the need for a balanced diet to maintain adequate vitamin levels.

What Are Some of the Best Ways To Increase My Vitamin Levels?

The best way to increase your vitamin D levels is through regular sun exposure. This method accounts for almost 90 percent of our total vitamin D intake, as the body naturally produces this hormone when skin is exposed to sunshine. 

In fact, just 20 minutes of daily sunshine, regardless of whether you live in Canada or elsewhere, is sufficient to meet your vitamin D needs. Additionally, you can complement sun exposure by consuming foods rich in vitamin D or taking supplements, which contribute to the remaining 10 percent of your vitamin D intake.

Read More: Full Vitamin D Deficiency Guide

What Foods Have Vitamin D?

Dietary intake can play a significant role in ensuring adequate vitamin D levels. To help you navigate the myriad of food options, we've compiled a list of vitamin D-rich foods and their international unit (IU) levels, an internationally accepted amount of nutrients. 

From fish to fortified plant-based alternatives, this guide will assist you in making informed dietary choices to boost your vitamin D intake. Let's dive into the details of these vitamin D-rich foods.

1. Rainbow Trout

(Credit: Canva Pro)

Rainbow trout offers a substantial 645 IU of vitamin D per 3-ounce serving. It's an excellent choice for boosting vitamin D intake, in addition to being a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Easy to prepare, rainbow trout is a versatile fish that fits well into a healthy diet. 

Despite living in environments where exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun may be limited (like deep water), some fish species, such as rainbow trout, have high concentrations of vitamin D in their livers and adipose tissue. It's believed that this vitamin D could originate from their diet, particularly from zooplankton that are exposed to UV light at the water's surface.

2. Salmon

(Credit: Maria_Usp/Shutterstock)

Salmon provides between 383 to 570 IU of vitamin D per 3 ounces, depending on the variety. This popular fish is not only renowned for its delicious taste but also for its health benefits, including vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

Research shows that salmon vary in their vitamin D levels based on where they're caught and how they're raised. For example, wild Atlantic salmon from the Baltic Sea have higher vitamin D than those from the North Sea. Farmed Atlantic salmon fed with different amounts of vitamin D also show varied levels. This research suggests we need more studies to make sure farmed salmon have consistent and beneficial levels of vitamin D for people who eat them.

3. Canned Sardines

(Credit: alfernec/Shutterstock)

Canned sardines deliver 164 IU of vitamin D per 3 ounces. These tiny fish are a powerhouse of nutrients, providing calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, along with vitamin D.

Sardines are rich in vitamin D and other nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, supporting both bone health and cardiovascular wellness. They also provide omega-3 fatty acids, which help normalize blood pressure and improve lipid profiles. Additionally, sardines contain potassium, magnesium, niacin, and zinc, further contributing to lowered blood pressure and better lipid levels.

4. Mushrooms

Mushrooms vary in vitamin D content, offering between 114 and 110 IU per cup. They're a unique vegetable source of vitamin D. You can then cook them in various ways, including frying, steaming, or boiling. They are a great addition to stir-fries, soups, and salads.

Mushrooms can get vitamin D from UV light, just like how we get vitamin D from the sun. If mushrooms get enough UV light, they can have enough vitamin D for our daily needs. This is helpful for people who don't eat meat. But how you keep and cook the mushrooms can change the amount of vitamin D they have. For example, after boiling button mushrooms in water for 20 minutes or oven-baking for 10 minutes, the mushrooms retain only 62 to 67 percent of their vitamin D2 content. However, when these mushrooms are pan-fried without oil for 5 minutes, the retention rate jumps to 88 percent.

5. Low-Fat Milk

(Credit: Hafiez Razali/Shutterstock)

One cup of low-fat (1 percent) milk provides 117 IU of vitamin D. It's a staple in many diets and an easy way to consume more vitamin D, as well as calcium.

Low-fat milk fortified with vitamin D supports metabolic health, improving outcomes for those at risk of or managing obesity-related conditions. This fortified dairy product contributes to a balanced diet, offering a practical approach to increasing vitamin D intake, crucial for bone density and immune function.

 6. Soy Milk 

(credit: somrak jendee/Shutterstock)

Soy milk is a great plant-based alternative to cow's milk. It has 119 IU of vitamin D and is also low in calories. You can drink it by itself or add it to your favorite smoothie or recipe. It is an excellent alternative for those looking for dairy-free ways to increase their vitamin D consumption.

A study of post-menopausal women who consumed soy milk once a day or more exhibited a 56 percent lower likelihood of developing osteoporosis compared to those who did not consume soy milk. 

7. Yogurt

(Credit: mama_mia/Shutterstock)

Both nonfat and low-fat plain yogurts contain about 116 IU of vitamin D per 8 ounces. They're a delicious way to enjoy vitamin D and calcium in a versatile, creamy food Like fortified milk, vitamin D-fortified yogurt significantly reduces inflammation, particularly for those at risk of or currently experiencing obesity-related health issues.

8. Fortified Orange Juice

(Credit: pilipphoto/Shutterstock)

A cup of 100 percent fortified orange juice contains 100 IU of vitamin D. It's a refreshing, nutrient-rich beverage, perfect for those who prefer a fruity option.

Adults consuming orange juice fortified with vitamin D3 daily for 12 weeks experienced a 150 percent increase in vitamin D levels, indicating improved vitamin D status and potential bone health benefits without any noted adverse effects.

Should I Take a Vitamin D Supplement?

While incorporating a range of vitamin D-rich foods into your diet can help maintain optimal levels, there are instances where dietary sources may not suffice. Older adults often lack sunlight exposure, which affects vitamin D absorption. A doctor can use a blood test to check their vitamin D levels if needed.

In such cases, transitioning to vitamin D supplements under the guidance of a healthcare professional can be an effective alternative. This approach not only bridges any nutritional gaps but also supports your overall health, balancing the benefits of natural food sources with the targeted impact of supplements. Remember, a personalized healthcare plan is the cornerstone of effective vitamin D management and overall wellness.

Top 3 Vitamin D Supplements

For those who find their vitamin D levels lacking, navigating the vast array of vitamin D supplements can be overwhelming. However, these three products stand out for their quality, efficacy, and user satisfaction.

  • Elm & Rye Vitamin D3 Capsules

One supplement that effectively addresses Vitamin D deficiency is Elm & Rye D3. This product comes in capsule form, offering a straightforward approach to supplementing your daily Vitamin D intake. The recommended dosage is one capsule per day, taken with food or as advised by a healthcare provider. It’s essential to consult with your doctor before beginning any new supplement to ensure it aligns with your health needs.

  • Persona Vitamin D 1000 IU

Persona's Vitamin D supplement provides 1000 IU of Vitamin D, crucial for those lacking sufficient sunlight exposure or dietary Vitamin D. High doses of vitamin D (more than 10000 IU), however, may lead to elevated calcium levels, potentially causing significant health issues, including severe stomach upset. Vitamin D's importance extends beyond just aiding calcium absorption; it also plays a vital role in muscle function and immune system support, especially during the colder months.

  • NOW Supplements Liquid Vitamin D3

NOW Supplements offers Liquid Vitamin D3, a convenient and efficient way to boost your Vitamin D levels. This liquid formula allows for easy integration into your daily regimen, ideal for individuals who prefer not to take capsules or pills. Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is the form of vitamin D naturally produced by the body in response to sun exposure. Supplementing with NOW Liquid Vitamin D3 helps ensure adequate vitamin D levels, supporting bone health, calcium absorption, and overall wellness. This supplement is particularly beneficial for those with limited exposure to sunlight or dietary restrictions that might prevent adequate vitamin D intake.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vitamin D Sources

What Fruits Have Vitamin D?

Most fruits do not contain vitamin D. However, bananas are well-known for their high magnesium content. Magnesium is a crucial mineral that helps activate vitamin D. While bananas themselves do not contain vitamin D, the magnesium they provide can help the body utilize vitamin D more effectively.

What Vegetables Have Vitamin D?

Vegetables, like fruits, are not a significant source of vitamin D. This vitamin is primarily found in animal-based foods. However, mushrooms are an exception:

Mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D, especially if they have been exposed to sunshine. 

Does Orange Juice Have Vitamin D?

Orange juice doesn't naturally contain significant amounts of vitamin D, but many brands are fortified with vitamin D to enhance nutritional value.

Do Eggs Have Vitamin D?

Yes, eggs, particularly the yolks, contain vitamin D. They are one of the few natural food sources of this nutrient.

Does Fish Oil Have Vitamin D?

Although fish oil is a great source of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), it doesn't offer the high levels of vitamin D found in cod liver oil.

Does Cheese Have Vitamin D?

Cheese, particularly those made with fortified milk, may contain vitamin D.

What Drinks Have Vitamin D?

Drinks like fortified milk, orange juice, and certain plant-based milk (like almond or soy milk) are commonly fortified with vitamin D.

Article Sources

Our writers at Discovermagazine.com use peer-reviewed studies and high quality sources for our articles, and our editors review for scientific accuracy and editorial standards. Review the sources used below for this article:

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