Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. Your body can produce it with exposure to sunlight. This vitamin is incredibly valuable—with receptor sites for vitamin D in every cell of your body. It function more like a hormone than a vitamin, with your levels impacting mood, bone health and immune function.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, you may not be able to make vitamin D, even when exposed to the sun for several months of the year. And although three or four summer months provide stronger sunlight, if you wear sunscreen (which you should), cover with clothing, or do not get out into the sun often, you could be lacking vitamin D. What’s more, due to a lack of vitamin D during other eight to nine months of the year, you could be playing catch up during the summer, never actually building up your levels to optimal status.
The daily recommended amount for adults over 19 is 600 IU (15 mcg) daily, and for those 70 years and over, it is 800 IU (20mcg) daily. One way to support your vitamin D levels is to consume foods high in vitamin D as often as possible. Here are six of the best most nutritous , listed in order of highest to lowest. The daily value discussed below is for adults under 70 years.
6 Foods High in Vitamin D
Fatty fish is the most vitamin D-rich group of foods you can eat. Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, you need dietary fat to absorb and store it properly. This makes fatty fish the best foods for vitamin D since the fat content is built-in.
Cooked sockeye salmon is at the top of the list for fatty fish with 28.4 mcg per 6-ounce fillet. That’s a whopping 142% of your daily needs. Farmed Atlantic salmon is another fantastic choice. It contains 22.3mcg in a cooked 6-ounce fillet, which is 111% of your daily needs. Other fantastic salmon choices that provide just under 100% of your daily needs include cooked wild Coho salmon (6 ounces provides 19.2 mcg) and canned sockeye salmon (3 ounces provides 19.2 mcg).
If you don’t like salmon or want some variety, other vitamin D-rich fatty fish varieties include Atlantic mackerel, smoked whitefish, swordfish, sturgeon and rainbow trout.
Mushrooms are a plant-based source of vitamin D. But there’s a catch; the mushrooms must be exposed to UV light to achieve high levels of the nutrient. Keep in mind that you should consume mushrooms with dietary fat for the best absorption. Several varieties of mushrooms will help you meet your daily value for vitamin D.
Cremini mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamin D. One cup of whole, raw creminis (87 g) provides 27.8 mcg, which is 139% of your daily needs. Next up are portobello mushrooms, also exposed to UV, containing 24.4 mcg (122% DV) in a cup of sliced. Other UV exposed mushroom varieties high in vitamin D include maitake, white button mushrooms, morel, chanterelle and shiitake.
Dairy products fortified with vitamin D are a simple way of ensuring you get enough of the crucial nutrient into your diet. While fortified milk products don’t contain nearly as much vitamin D per serving as mushrooms or fatty fish, milk is consumed quite often and liked by most people, making it a convenient choice for daily consumption.
A serving of milk is 16 ounces, and a glass of the whole variety contains 6.3 mcg or 32% of your daily value. Low-fat and skim versions have slightly less vitamin D, with 5.9 mcg per 16-ounce serving, 29% of your daily needs. Low-fat vitamin D fortified fruit yogurt is another option, with 3.2 mcg (16% DV) in a cup.
If your diet is dairy free or plant based, choose a fortified milk substitute as a vitamin D-rich beverage. Soy milk fortified with vitamin D contains 5.8 mcg (29% DV); almond milk, rice milk and coconut milk can also be found fortified with vitamin D. Each will provide you with about 25% of your daily value.
Pork is a natural source of vitamin D. Pork chops with fat contain 2.1mcg or 10% of your daily value in a typical serving of about 7 ounces, while 1 cup of lean ham will provide 1.2 mcg (6% DV).
Other options for pork include ribs, Boston steak, pork loin, and lean pork chops, which contain about half as much vitamin D as those with fat included.
While each egg only contains 1.1mcg of vitamin D, eggs are a commonly eaten food, often plated in pairs. Two eggs will provide you with 12% of your daily value. If you measure by the cup when preparing chopped boiled eggs for salad or scrambled eggs, a full cup will provide 15 to 20% of your daily needs.
Filling your plate (or bowl) with foods high in vitamin D
Depending on your dietary preferences and restrictions, it’s easy to include daily vitamin D-rich foods. Breakfast may be the easiest meal of the day to get your daily needs. Besides the breakfast-friendly foods on this list, such as milk and its substitutes, yogurt, eggs and ham, other breakfast foods are often fortified with vitamin D, including orange juice and cereal. Check labels to see if the products you choose contain added vitamin D.
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