12 Best Foods High in Vitamin D

What foods have Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins in our body. It has been known for a long time that it helps with bone formation and the absorption of calcium. In recent studies, we now know that it also helps to lower inflammation and supports the immune system. It is also believed to have many other benefits to the body.

Unfortunately, some 60% of people in this country have a vitamin D deficiency. This can lead to a range of problems, including:

• A lower immune system
• Rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults
• Poor hair growth
• Increased risk of cancer

At the same time, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Those who take too much vitamin D and suffer from hypervitaminosis D may suffer from:

• Kidney stones
• Increased chance of heart disease
• Bone malformation

Because vitamin D is so important, but so difficult to get in adequate amounts due to our busy lifestyles, a lot of everyday products have been fortified with vitamin D. These include many fruit juices, milk and cereals. However, the best way to increase the level of vitamin D in our body is by spending some time exposed to the sun.

In reality, few foods contain a lot of vitamin D. This makes it difficult to eat your way to appropriate levels. This is particularly true for vegetarians and vegans, as many of the foods that do contain vitamin D, or that have been fortified by it, contain animal products. It is no surprise, therefore, that most people choose to supplement. However, if you do want to make sure that you receive vitamin D levels through your diet, then the following foods may be an option.

12 Best Vitamin D Rich Foods

1. Cod liver oil. One tablespoon contains 1,400 IU, which is 233% of the recommended daily value. Plus, it provides you with 280% of your recommended daily value (RDV) of Vitamin A, as well as lots of Omega-3 fats.

2. Cooked oily fish, which can provide you with around 90% of your daily value with just one filet. The best fish is smoked salmon (97% of your RDV) and the worst is tuna steak (12% of your RDV). Other options include canned trout, salmon, any white fish that is smoked, mackerel (fresh or canned), tuna in oil, halibut, herring, sardine, rockfish, tilapia, flounder, and sole. Salmon is said to be the very best when it comes to getting vitamin D. However, it is important to always choose wild fish, not farmed fish, to make sure that you get the highest levels.

3. Portabello mushrooms, which provide you with around 64% of your RDV. There are other mushrooms as well that you could choose, including Maitake, Morel, Chanterelle, Oyster and White mushrooms, although white mushrooms only contain 1% of your RDV. The reason why mushrooms have a lot of vitamin D is because they need sunlight to grow.

4. Fortified cereals. Cereals have been fortified for nearly a century now because it is known that people don’t get enough vitamin D. Kellogg’s is particularly known for fortifying their cereal, so that is a good brand to choose. However, even fortified cereals only provide you with 17% of your RDV, which is not enough.

5. Tofu, which provides you with around 21% of your RDV for a 79 gram portion.

6. Caviar, which provides you with about 6% of your RDV for a 28 gram portion. Plus, it only contains 1 gram of saturated fat and just 74 calories. Unfortunately, this is very expensive.

7. Fortified dairy products, which contains 22% of your RDV in a cup serving. Dairy products include cow’s milk and goat’s milk products.

8. Extra lean ham, which contains about 4% of your RDV. The best is extra lean ham, but you can also choose spare ribs, sausages, pork loin or pork shoulder. This will come as happy news for bacon lovers, but not so much for vegetarians!

9. Hard boiled eggs, or any other egg that has been cooked. The source of the egg is irrelevant, although it is always best to eat free range, organic eggs.

10. Dairy alternatives like soy are also usually fortified, generally up to 20% of your RDV. Almond milk and rice milk also work.

11. Orange Juice, which is also often fortified with vitamin D. Interestingly, it tends to contain more vitamin D than fortified milk, so it is a better option.

12. Ricotta, which has five times more vitamin D than any other type of cheese. A great idea to eat cannelloni, in other words.

How Vitamin D in Food Is Rated

As you can see from the list above, there really aren’t many foods that do contain vitamin D, even when fortified. And those that do often don’t contain much of it. The table below shows some of the best sources of vitamin D and how they rank overall. It also shows the amount of calories included in it. This is important because obesity is a worldwide epidemic and has a significant impact on vitamin D absorption. Hence, it is very important to make sure you don’t choose high calorie foods, particularly if you already have a weight problem.

Food Serving Size Calories IU % of RDV
Salmon Four ounces 157.6 511.43 126
Sardines Three ounces 188.7 175.09 44
Fortified cow’s milk Four ounces 74.4 62.22 16
Tuna Four ounces 147.4 92.99 23
Free range eggs One egg 77.5 43.5 11
Mushrooms Half a cup 40.6 20.3 5

Resources and References:

The Truth about Vitamin D: Food Sources – Food sources for vitamin D. (WebMD)
Vitamin D – Sources of vitamin D. (SELF Nutrition Data)
17 Surprising Ways to Get More Vitamin D – Getting more vitamin D. (Prevention.com)