As we know, Vitamin D is the only nutrient our body produces when we are exposed to sunlight. However, up to 50% of the world’s population may not get enough sun, and 40% of U.S. residents are deficient in vitamin D. This is partly because most people spend more time indoors, wear sunblock outside, and eat a diet low in good sources of this vitamin.
- The recommended daily value (DV) is 800 IU (20 mcg) of vitamin D per day from foods.
- If you don’t get enough sunlight, your intake should likely be closer to 1,000 IU (25 mcg) per day.
Here are 7 healthy foods that are high in vitamin D:
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Composition Database, one 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of farmed Atlantic salmon contains 526 IU of vitamin D, or 66% of the DV.
Whether the salmon is wild or farm can make a big difference.
On average, wild-caught salmon packs 988 IU of vitamin D per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, or 124% of the DV. Some studies have found even higher levels in wild salmon – up to 1,300 IU per serving.
However, farmed salmon contains only 25% of that amount. Still, one serving of farmed salmon provides about 250 IU of vitamin D, or 32% of the DV.
Herring and Sardines
Herring is a fish eaten around the world. It can be served raw, canned, smoked, or pickled.
This small fish is also one of the best sources of vitamin D.
Fresh Atlantic herring provides 216 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, which is 27% of the DV.
If fresh fish isn’t your thing, pickled herring is also a good source of vitamin D, providing 112 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, or 14% of the DV.
However, pickled herring also contains a high amount of sodium, which some people consume too much of.
Canned sardines are a good source of vitamin D as well – one can (3.8 ounces) contains 177 IU, or 22% of the DV.
Other types of fatty fish are also good vitamin D sources. Halibut and mackerel provide 384 IU and 360 IU per half a fillet, respectively.
Many people enjoy canned tuna because of its flavour and easy storage methods.
It’s also usually cheaper than buying fresh fish.
Canned light tuna packs up to 268 IU of vitamin D in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, which is 34% of the DV.
It’s also a good source of niacin and vitamin K.
Unfortunately, canned tuna contains methylmercury a toxin found in many types of fish. If it builds up in your body, it can cause serious health problems.
However, some types of fish pose less risk than others. For instance, light tuna is typically a better choice than white tuna — it’s considered safe to eat up to 6 ounces (170 grams) per week.
People who don’t eat fish should know that seafood is not the only source of vitamin D. Whole eggs are another good source, as well as a wonderfully nutritious food.
While most of the protein in an egg is found in the white, the fat, vitamins, and minerals are found mostly in the yolk.
One typical egg yolk contains 37 IU of vitamin D, or 5% of the DV.
Vitamin D levels in egg yolk depend on sun exposure and the vitamin D content of chicken feed. When given the same feed, pasture- raised chickens that roam outside in the sunlight produce eggs with levels 3–4 times higher.
Additionally, eggs from chickens given vitamin-D-enriched feed may have up to 6,000 IU of vitamin D per yolk. That’s a whopping 7 times the DV.
Choosing eggs either from chickens raised outside or marketed as high in vitamin D can be a great way to meet your daily requirements.
Excluding fortified foods, mushrooms are the only good plant source of vitamin D.
Like humans, mushrooms can synthesise this vitamin when exposed to UV light.
However, mushrooms produce vitamin D2, whereas animals produce vitamin D3.
Though vitamin D2 helps raise blood levels of vitamin D, it may not be as effective as Vitamin D3.
Nonetheless, wild mushrooms are excellent sources of vitamin D2. In fact, some varieties pack up to 2,300 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving – nearly three times the DV.
On the other hand, commercially grown mushrooms are often grown in the dark and contain very little D2.
However, certain brands are treated with ultraviolet (UV light). These mushrooms can provide 130–450 IU of vitamin D2 per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
The bottom line
Spending time in the sun is a good way to get your daily dose of vitamin D. However, sufficient sun exposure is difficult for many people to achieve.
Getting enough from your diet alone may be difficult, but not impossible.
The foods listed in this article are some of the top sources of Vitamin D available.
Eating plenty of these vitamin-D-rich foods is a great way to make sure you get enough of this important nutrient.