Vitamin D deficiency is a pandemic problem today, mainly attributed to lifestyle and environmental factors that reduce exposure to sunlight, cause limited oral intake, or lead to impaired intestinal absorption.
According to US National Library of Medicine, the high prevalence of the disease of hypovitaminosis D is a particularly important public health issue because research supports the possible role of vitamin D against heart disease, cancer, influenza, fractures and falls, type-2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and depression.
Vitamin D, which is also known as ‘the sunshine vitamin’ is unique because it can be created in the skin from exposure to sunlight. It consists of two bioequivalent forms: Vitamin D2, which is obtained from dietary vegetable sources and oral supplements and Vitamin D3, which is obtained primarily from skin exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation in sunlight, ingestion of food sources such as oily fish and variably fortified foods (milk, juices,, yogurts, soy, and cereals), and oral supplements.
When it comes to food rich in vitamin D, if you are unaware whether your diet provides enough vitamin D or not, there are a few principles you need to know. Firstly, as a fat-soluble vitamin, you should consume vitamin D with a fatty meal so they come packaged with all the fat your body needs. Also, the source of your vitamin D rich food has to be from a natural, organic source. So, if an animal is not enough exposed to sunlight, it may not produce a rich vitamin D food source.
Having a wide range of biological actions, it is very important to maintain a healthy diet with vitamin D food sources. That’s why we prepared a list of some of the richest vitamin D foods for your daily intake below:
The Vitamin D Diet Plan: 6 Rich Vitamin D Food Sources
Salmon & Fatty Fish
Salmon and ocean grown fatty-fish in general, are great sources of vitamin D. According to the USDA Food Composition Database, one 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of salmon contains between 361 and 685 IU of vitamin D (5).
However, the problem appears in the way the fatty-fish was raised and sourced. When it comes to salmon, wild-caught salmon contains 988 IU of vitamin D per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving or 165% of the RDI. On the other hand, farmed salmon contains only 25% of that amount.
Cod Liver Oil
If you’re not that much into fish, cod liver is another great source of vitamin D and certain nutrients unavailable in other sources.
At about 450 IU per teaspoon (4.9 ml), it contains in at a massive 75% of the RDI.
Organ meats are one of the rare food sources rich in vitamin D. They contain the full range of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2 as well as B-Vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that cannot be found in other foods.
Emu oil is known for its healing and nourishing properties, but also a vitamin D and K2 rich food source. You can either purchase it in oil form or in capsules for a great vitamin D rich food source.
Ghee is similar to clarified butter which has to be heated to remove proteins and is simmered longer to bring out the butter’s inherent nutty flavor. If you add Ghee as your cooking fat, you will enrich your meal with vitamin D. But, always remember; Ghee needs to come from grass-fed, organically raised animals.
Chickens that are grass raised produce eggs that contain vitamin D3. But, now the whole egg contains the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is only found in the yolk. It contains roughly 50 IU per egg, so you need to make a big frittata to get your full dose of vitamin D!
Except for being delicious, oysters are also low in calories and full of nutrients.
One 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of wild oysters has only 68 calories but contains 320 IU of vitamin D – over half the RDI. In addition, one serving packs 2–6 times the RDI for vitamin B12, copper and zinc – far more than multivitamins.
Shrimp is a popular type of shellfish, which unlike most other seafood sources of vitamin D, are very low in fat. They contain 152 IU per serving, or 25% of the RDI.
Shrimp also contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, although at lower amounts than other vitamin D rich foods.
If you are a vegetarian or don’t prefer fish, the number of natural sources of vitamin D might be limited. Fortunately, there are many food products that don’t naturally contain vitamin D but are fortified with this nutrient. See below to find out:
Except for being a naturally a good source of calcium, phosphorous and riboflavin, cow’s milk is also fortified with vitamin D in several countries, thus making it a rich food source of the sunshine vitamin. Cow’s milk usually contains about 130 IU per cup (237 ml), or about 22% of the RDI (7, 33).
For this reason, plant-based milk substitutes such as soy milk are also often fortified with this nutrient and other vitamins and minerals usually found in cow’s milk.
One cup (237 ml) typically contains between 99 and 119 IU of vitamin D, which is up to 20% of the RDI.
Around 75% of people worldwide are lactose intolerant and another 2–3% have a milk allergy.
For this reason, some countries fortify orange juice with vitamin D and other nutrients, such as calcium.
One cup (237 ml) of fortified orange juice with breakfast can start your day off with up to 142 IU of vitamin D, or 24% of the RDI.
Cereal and Oatmeal
Certain cereals and instant oatmeal are also fortified with vitamin D.
A 1/2-cup serving of these foods can provide between 55 and 154 IU, or up to 26% of the RDI (41, 42).
Though fortified cereals and oatmeal provide less vitamin D than many natural sources, they can still be a good way to boost your intake.
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