Top 31 Vitamin D Rich Foods, Sources & Benefits
What is Vitamin D Foods?
Are Animal Source Foods High in Vitamin D?
These are some of the questions you might come across while searching for sources of vitamin D. Today I will tell you about Vitamin D and how to get it, but before that let me tell you my real life story.
I am recently married and we went to Phuket for our honeymoon. Thailand is full of beaches and water sports. So, out of curiosity, we tried scuba diving there. And my hubby had got a serious back pain because of the heavy air-cylinder used. We bought a pain relief and thought it would be ok in 2-3 days. But we were wrong.
After coming back, he used to have back pain more often. We really got worried and consulted the doctor who gave us a list of tests to be carried out one of which was Vitamin D tests. As guessed by the doctor, vitamin D levels were very low due to which the back pain continued.
This made me research Vitamin D and vitamin D rich foods. In this post, I have given a detailed description of What is Vitamin D, What are the dietary requirements for Vitamin D and how we can get it. I have also mentioned about the serious health effects caused by the deficiency of Vitamin D.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a Fat-Soluble vitamin and its main function is to increase the absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphate in the body. Vitamin D promotes hormonal balance and immune regulation of the body. It also has a significant role in calcium homeostasis and metabolism. We get our required Vitamin D either from our diet or skin synthesis from sunlight.
Because Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D it is often called sunshine vitamin. This vitamin is very essential for brain development, strong bones, strong immunity etc.
Below are the top 9 Vitamin D rich foods which will give you required vitamin D. (1)
Vitamin D Rich Foods :
It is clear from the above information that vitamin D is synthesized by skin in the presence of sunlight but there are certain foods which provide us vitamin D. The best natural source of vitamin D is sunlight especially for Vegetarians. (2)
In earlier days in India, people used to pray to the Sun God and offer ‘Arghya’ i.e. some water to it every day. We should bring back this ancient Indian tradition again to get our required Vitamin D. Fatty Fish like Tuna, Mackerel and Salmon are one of the richest sources of Vitamin D. Shrimp and oysters are also rich in vitamin D.
Mushrooms are very good sources of vitamin D especially for vegetarians as they are the only plant source that produces vitamin D. It produces the D2 type of vitamin D. Only animal sources produce vitamin D3. In 100 grams serving of wild mushrooms, there is 2300 IU (International Unit) of vitamin D. So you can see it is a very rich source of Vitamin D.
Mushrooms are readily available food. The transportation of mushrooms is a little difficult which might result in the freshness of this food. Try to get mushrooms as fresh as possible.
2. Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is abstracted from the liver of fish. Hence it is rich in vitamin D3. You can get it as capsules or bottled. A tablespoon i.e 13.6 grams of cod liver oil contains 4,080 micrograms (μg) of vitamin A and 34 Microgram (1.360 IU) of vitamin D. The upper intake level of vitamin A is 3000 μg/day. So, a tablespoon of cod liver oil will cause an excess of vitamin A in your body which is toxic.
That is why make sure that you consume less than 1 tablespoon of cod liver oil. It is best to consult a doctor or physician if you start taking capsules. Cod liver oil is one of the best vitamin D rich foods. As you already know vitamin D can be toxic if you take it in the excess amount. So be careful while adding any vitamin D source in your diet.
3. Egg Yolk
1 Large Egg contains 41 IUs (International Units) of vitamin D. Egg is incredibly nutritious for our health. While egg whites are rich in proteins, egg yolk contains vitamin D and essential fats.
4. Fortified Foods
Mostly natural foods which are rich in vitamin D are sea-food and non-vegetarian food. For Vegetarians, foods which are labeled as Fortified with vitamin D are sources of vitamin D apart from sunlight. In America, Milk is fortified with vitamin D to prevent rickets in children.
The Indian government is planning to fortify wheat flour and certain food items with vitamin D since about 70% of the Indian population is suffering from vitamin D deficiency.
Salmon is one of the great sources of Vitamin D. A 100 grams of salmon contains from 361 to 685 IU of vitamin D. It is best to get required vitamin D for sea-food lovers. Salmon is one of the best vitamin D rich foods.
Fresh or Pickled herring fish contains 680 IU per 100 grams serving. Sardines are a type of herring fish which are also rich in vitamin D. It has 272 IU of vitamin D in a 100 grams of servings.
Oysters are low calorie, tasty and a rich source of vitamin D.A 100 grams of oysters contain 320 IU of vitamin D. It is the best source of vitamin D for those who are planning to lose weight.
It is a type of shellfish. Like oysters, shrimp are low in fats and high in vitamin D. They also contain some amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Shrimps are high in cholesterol and contain 152 IU per hundred grams servings.
Unskimmed milk contains a good amount of vitamin D. It can fulfill about 15-20% of your daily vitamin D requirement.
Tuna is another source of vitamin D. The Tuna fish is available in the coastal areas and if you like seafood this can be a good source of various vitamins.
100 gm of Mackerel has around 1006 IU of vitamin D. It is also a good source of Vitamin B12, Iron, Vitamin B6, Magnesium etc. You can include it in your diet in various ways like grilled, with salad etc.
It is another fish which is high in vitamin D. 100 gm of Halibut contains around 1097 IU of vitamin D. It is found in some part of the world so not available to everyone. If it is not available in your region you can go for the alternate food.
13. Soy Milk
Natural soy milk does not contain any vitamin D but you can get fortified soy milk in the market. It is a good choice of vitamin D source for vegetarian people. Make sure you don’t drink an excess amount of this drink which can result in various health issues.
14. Orange Juice
Again orange juice does not contain any vitamin D naturally but fortified orange juice is present in the market. When you are planning to buy orange juice you can opt for fortified version.
Tofu is a good source of calcium. Vitamin D helps in absorbing calcium from food and makes your bones strong. Fortified tofu is available in the market which can help you get the vital amines required by your body.
Cheese naturally contains a small amount of vitamin D. But cheese made up of fortified milk can have a good amount of vitamin D.
Caviar has a small amount of vitamin D. Per 100 grams of Caviar the vitamin D content is 117 IU. Along with vitamin D, it contains Iron, Magnesium etc.
Fortified oatmeal is also one of the best vitamin D foods. For vegetarian people, the sources of vitamin D are very limited so they need to be dependent on either sunlight or fortified food.
Vitamin D fortified cereals are present in the market. The amount of vitamin D available in these cereals ranges from 40 IU to 70 IU. You need to check the description for cereals before buying so that you don’t get excess of vitamin D.
Various butter product companies have started introducing vitamin D fortified butter. This helps you get an adequate amount of vitamin D in your body.
21. Sour Creme
Again a fortified food item which is a good source of vitamin D. Try this food item only if you are fine with taking the sunshine vitamin from non-natural sources.
Fortified yogurt is available in the market and is good for your health. Yogurt not only provide you the essential vitamins and minerals but it also helps in curing any stomach related problems because of lack of gut bacteria.
The best and free source of vitamin D is the Sun. The best time to get sun exposure is morning hours when the heat is not at its peak. Make sure you apply sunscreen lotion before going for a sunbath. An prolonged exposure can lead to sunburn.
Vitamin D supplements are the most commonly used source when someone is diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency. Generally, the tablet is to be taken once a week but the dosage depends on the amount of vitamin D present in the supplement.
Never take vitamin D tablet for a long period of time as this can result in excess of vitamin D in your body. It is impossible to take out the extra vitamin D easily and might need medical treatment. An excess vitamin D can act as a toxin for your body.
Sardine is a good source of vitamin D. 100 gm of sardines has around 193 IU of vitamin D. Along with vitamin D sardines are rich in vitamin B12, B6, and Iron.
Sardines are also rich in cholesterol and sodium that is the reason the intake of this seafood should be limited.
Catfish is one of the kinds of seafood which has a lot of vitamin D in it. 3oz of catfish contains 570 IU of vitamin D. If you are a seafood lover this is one of the items to be included in your diet.
27. Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta Cheese is not high in vitamin D but is one of the vitamin D rich foods. 100 gm of ricotta cheese contains around 10 IU of vitamin D.
28. Carp Fish
Carp fish has a good amount of vitamin D. 100 gm of carp fish contains 988 IU of vitamin D.
If you are a non-vegetarian, salami can be one of the options to get vitamin D.
Swordfish contains 666IU of vitamin D per 100 gm. It is an option for non-vegetarian people to get vitamin D.
Fortified margarine is available in the market. If you do not get enough vitamin D from natural resources you can opt for this option to get vitamin D.
About Vitamin D
Vitamin D is produced by the chemical reaction which occurs in our body with the help of sunlight. Our skin synthesizes cholecalciferol from cholesterol through the chemical reaction which is dependent on sunlight.
This synthesized vitamin D is biologically inactive. An Enzymatic conversion is required for its activation which is present in kidney and liver. The biologically active form of Vitamin D is Calcitriol.
There are two types of Vitamin D namely D2 which is ergocalciferol and D3 which is cholecalciferol. These are collectively called as Calcitriol. For more information on vitamin D and supplements, you can visit the National Institute of Health website.
Nutritional Requirements for Vitamin D
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for men and women between age group 4 to 70 years is 600 IU/day. Above 70 years of age, it increases to 800 IU/day. For Infants from 0 to 12 months of age Adequate Intake (A.I) is 400 IU/day.
Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
Deficiency of vitamin D causes osteomalacia which is softening of bones. It affects the absorption of calcium in our body which can cause teeth problems too.
This exposes us to increased risk of fracture and proximal muscle weakness which means weakness in muscles surrounding your bones. So if you are feeling muscle or bone pain it can be one of the vitamin D deficiency symptoms.
Vitamin D Benefits
Vitamin D helps you to absorb vital nutrients from food, as a result, you get strong bones, muscles, and immunity from diseases. You can read about all vitamin D benefits in my other post.
These are some vitamin D rich foods. Let me know how this article helped you to increase vitamin D intake.