- Fortified yogurt
- Vitamin D supplement
- Canned tuna
- Egg yolk
- Fortified cow’s milk
- Lactose intolerance
- Fortified orange juice
- Fortified ready-to-eat cereals
- Fortified yogurt
- Fortified margarine
- Beef liver
- Cod liver oil
Vitamin D is essential for building and maintaining healthy bones. It helps our bodies absorb calcium and phosphorus, which we need for our bones and teeth.
Research is starting to show other health benefits from vitamin D in relation to immunity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. However, the evidence is inconsistent.
It is important to meet the requirements for vitamin D intake all year round to help keep your body healthy. These are 20 of the richest sources of vitamin D to help you do just that!
The human body can naturally synthesize vitamin D from being exposed to the sun. Research suggests that 5-30 minutes of sun exposure during peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back usually leads to enough Vitamin D synthesis.
However, there are several factors that prevent this, including living at higher latitudes, winter months, older age, darker skin, or if you always cover your skin with clothing or sunscreen. Of course, due to the negative effects of direct sunlight on the skin, it is important to protect yourself from the sun.
Vitamin D supplement
Most multivitamins contain some vitamin D. There are also individual vitamin D supplements that can be consumed. Supplementation is recommended for adults over 50 years old and for exclusively or partially breastfed infants.
As with all vitamin supplements, taking too much can cause harm, so always consult with a doctor or registered dietitian prior to purchasing vitamin D supplements.
When searching for foods high in vitamin D, salmon is typically at the top of the list. Salmon is a fatty fish, and because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, they go hand-in-hand. The vitamin D content varies depending on whether the salmon was wild or farmed, with wild salmon having higher concentrations.
This small fish is one of the best sources of vitamin D. It can be eaten raw, canned, smoked, or pickled, and it is packed with nutrients like omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and protein. Herring is an easy-to-find, low-cost fish that is good for you.
If you want to add a pinch of salty flavour to your meal while getting in some extra vitamin D, you might want to throw some sardines in the mix. Sardines provide a good amount of vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin B12, as well as smaller amounts of iron, niacin and vitamin A. If you need to reduce your salt intake, perhaps opt for another oily fish.
Halibut is another fish that is packed with nutrients, including higher levels of vitamin D. Halibut is also a great source of selenium, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, all nutrients your body needs to function properly and that help reduce the negative effects of chronic inflammation.
One regular mackerel fillet provides more than 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin D for most adults, making this oily fish one of the best sources of vitamin D. As with many of the other fatty fish, mackerel is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and protein.
An easy source of vitamin D is tuna, even in a can! There are several healthy benefits to eating tuna, especially when packed in water instead of oil. Purchasing canned tuna in water is often preferable because it contains fewer overall calories and retains more of the omega-3 goodness.
If you are looking for a low-calorie, high-nutrient option in the seafood category, you can consider eating some oysters. Oysters are surprisingly high in vitamin D and zinc. While restaurant oysters can be expensive, you can always purchase some at a fish market and shuck-it-yourself at home or purchase canned varieties.
Shrimp used to have a bad reputation for containing a high amount of cholesterol, but the topic of cholesterol is much more complicated than once believed, especially when comparing quantities of saturated fat. Shrimp has much less fat than meat, and contains omega-3 fatty acids. Shrimp also contains vitamin D, iron, selenium and protein. For a healthier choice, avoid breaded or fried shrimp.
If you just eat the egg white, you are missing out on a ton of nutrients! Most of the protein is found in the white part of the egg but the healthy fat, vitamins and minerals (including vitamin D) are mostly found in the yellow egg yolk. Chickens that are allowed to roam outside in the sunlight transfer more vitamin D to the eggs than chickens raised indoors.
Mushrooms are unique because they are the only natural plant source of vitamin D. Like humans, mushrooms can synthesize the vitamin when exposed to the sun. The vitamin D content in mushrooms can actually be increased by ultraviolet light, both pre-harvest or post-harvest. Mushrooms produce a slightly different version of the vitamin (Vitamin D2), but our bodies still have a use for it.
Fortified cow’s milk
In several countries, cow’s milk is fortified with vitamin D for human consumption. The addition of vitamin D in food is regulated and helps ensure the general population has access to good sources of this essential nutrient. Not all cow milk around the world (or even within the same country) is fortified, which means you should always check the nutritional label. Evaporated milk and powdered milk should also be fortified with vitamin D.
As you can see from this list of rich sources of vitamin D, it is almost exclusively found in animal products. This means that vegans and vegetarians are at a greater risk of vitamin D deficiency. One way to counter this problem has been to fortify plant-based milks like soy and almond milk. These milk substitutes are often fortified with several nutrients found in cow’s milk but not naturally found in plants. For this reason, always make sure to purchase a fortified variety.
Fortified orange juice
For people who do not drink milk with breakfast, there is another option. Orange juice started to be fortified with calcium and vitamin D due to the large number of people who drink orange juice in the morning. Fortification of orange juice has been shown to be as bioavailable and efficient in the body as a vitamin D supplement. Of course, check the nutritional label to verify if it is a fortified juice.
Fortified ready-to-eat cereals
Some breakfast cereals and instant oatmeal packages are fortified with vitamin D. The amount does vary quite a bit, so make sure to read the nutritional label if you are counting on cereal to boost your daily intake. Fortified cereals are actually fortified with a bunch of nutrients that can impact the nutritional quality of your breakfast depending on the cereal you purchase.
Yogurt is such a great snack, especially the ones packed with probiotics that are good for gut health. Yogurts are not necessarily fortified with vitamin D, but there are certain brands that use fortified cow’s milk in order to produce their yogurt. Flavoured yogurts can easily pack in a ton of sugar, so check the additives if you are hoping for healthier choices.
Each country will have its own special products that receive vitamin D fortification and supplementation. In Canada, margarine has been fortified with vitamin D since the 1970s, the same time that fortification in cow’s milk started.
Liver does not make its way into many dishes but it is packed with good nutrients like vitamin A, iron, and protein. Beef liver makes this list because it is also a rich source of vitamin D. In general, organ meat is the best meat option for boosting your daily vitamin D intake.
Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil is often used as a daily supplement because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin D. Cod liver oil can be purchased in liquid or capsule forms. Only small doses should be consumed as there is a risk for excessive vitamin A intake, which can have negative consequences. Always talk to a doctor or registered dietitian before starting any type of supplement.