- Vitamin D, commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is essential for bone health.
- Many foods like cereals and some milks are fortified with vitamin D.
- Fatty fish and beef liver are natural sources of vitamin D.
Vitamin D, a nutrient that’s vital to bone health, has been called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s created when our bodies are exposed to sunlight. We can also incorporate this vitamin into our routine by eating foods that contain high levels of it, or by augmenting our intake with pills, drops, and other forms of supplements. The recommended daily amount ranges from 400 International Units (IU) to 800 IU depending on age.
To learn more about the relationship between diet and vitamin D, INSIDER talked to Julia Zumpano, RD, who works with the Cleveland Clinic’s Preventive Cardiology & Rehabilitation Department and its Women’s Cardiovascular Center. We also looked at information from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Dietitians of Canada, a professional organization.
From fatty fish to fortified yogurt, here are 14 foods that are rich in vitamin D.
Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are one of the best sources of vitamin D.
A 75-gram (2.5-ounce) serving of sockeye salmon contains between 394 to 636 International Units (IU) of the vitamin depending on whether it’s canned, cooked, or raw, according to Dietitians of Canada. Since salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, it also helps lower triglyceride levels.
If you prefer tuna, an equivalent serving of albacore packs 99 to 106 IU. Even your standard can of white tuna offers a good amount of vitamin D, boasting 60 IU per 75 grams.
“Most of the food that we’re going to get vitamin D fro, unless you eat salmon, is going to be fortified,” Zumpano told INSIDER.
Oysters contain a lot of vitamin D.
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They may be a delicacy, but oysters are also high in vitamin D. Each serving (one cup, raw) contains a whopping 794 IU.
Vegetarians and vegans can add vitamin D to their diet with fortified tofu.
If tofu is fortified, it can be a good source of vitamin D. Although nutrients vary by brand, the USDA reports that with 139 IU in every 18 grams (0.63 ounces), Nasoya Lite Silken Tofu has one of the highest amounts of vitamin D per serving.
Mushrooms produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.
Mushrooms, which contain a pro-vitamin known as ergosterol, are unique in that they’re the only vegetable that can produce vitamin D. Ergosterol helps them generate the vitamin when exposed to ultraviolet radiation.
Nutritional value differs depending on whether a mushroom was commercially cultivated (a process that takes place indoors, in darkness) or grown in the wild where it can absorb ample sunlight. Portabellas, a commercial variety, contain 976 IU per diced cup after being exposed to ultraviolet light, according to the USDA Food Composition Databases. Wild mushrooms already contain a high amount of vitamin D when they’re harvested. A cup of diced maitake, for instance, offers 786 IU.
Eggs yolks are rich in vitamin D.
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Eggs contain vitamin D in their yolks, boasting 41 IU of the nutrient per serving (defined as one large egg by the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements).
Dairy milk and fortified, non-dairy alternatives contain a decent amount of the vitamin.
With 103 to 105 IU of vitamin D per one-cup serving, milk (which is always fortified) is an excellent source of the nutrient. The dairy drink has the added benefit of containing calcium and some protein, Zumpano noted.
Fortified, dairy-free alternatives such as rice milk (101 IU per eight ounces) and almond milk (107 IU per cup) are also solid options.
You can get vitamin D from fortified yogurt.
Six-ounce containers of fortified yogurt typically contain 88 IU of vitamin D. Greek-style yogurt that’s been fortified boasts 60 IU per five ounces.
Some cheeses contain more vitamin D than others.
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Depending what kind you get, cheese can naturally contain upwards of 30 IU of vitamin D per one-cup serving. Fontina, Muenster, and Monterey cheeses are some of the best choices for incorporating vitamin D into your diet.
Richer varieties such as bleu cheese, brie, and gouda have six IU of vitamin D per ounce.
Add vitamin D to your sandwich with deli meat.
Deli meats, a lunchtime favorite, can contain between 30 to 54 IU of vitamin D per three-slice serving depending if you opt for salami, beef, pork, or bologna.
Some pork cuts are especially high in vitamin D.
Pork in general is high in vitamin D. Cuts that pack the most punch include back fat (138 IU per four ounces) and spareribs (103 IU per four ounces).
Some breakfast cereals have vitamin D.
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Some breakfast cereals, such as Post Foods’ Cocoa Pebbles and Honeycomb, are fortified with 80 to 100 IU of vitamin D per serving (usually about a cup).
Still, Zumpano advises that even if they contain the nutrient, cereals aren’t the healthiest way to add vitamin D into your diet.
Fortified orange juice can be healthy in moderation.
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With 50 IU of vitamin D per half-cup, fortified orange juice is alright in moderation but it shouldn’t be your primary source of the nutrient. Drinking too much can cause your blood sugar to rise, Zumpano said.
Beef liver contains vitamin D, but it’s also high in cholesterol.
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Margarine is a vitamin D-rich condiment.
When fortified, the butter substitute can contain 25 to 36 IU of vitamin D per teaspoon.
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