Vitamin D Rich Foods

Vitamin D has been called the "sunshine vitamin" because we are able to absorb it through exposure from the sun. Unlike other vitamins, we can to some extent, produce it ourselves. This is because the ultraviolet rays (UVB) in sunshine are converted by our skin into the vitamin.

Thus, the more we sunbathe in bright sunshine, the more vitamin D we produce. Too much vitamin is bad because UVB is a cause of skin cancer. Don't go crazy and spend hours in the sun. And the converse happens in the wintertime; we do not get enough vitamin D and need to find it in food sources.

However, very few foods contain naturally vitamin D. Fatty fish and fish liver oils are certainly the best sources. The others sources only contain trance amounts of vitamin D. Many foods are therefore fortified with vitamin D, that is, the vitamin is added to the food.

Vitamin D rich foods list

Vitamin D Rich foods listPortionIUs per serving*Percent DV**
Cod liver oil 1 tablespoon1,360340
Salmon cooked3 ounces447112
Mackerel cooked3 ounces38897
Tuna fish (canned in water) drained3 ounces15439
Milk nonfat, reduced fat or whole and vitamin D-fortified1 cup115-124 29-31
Orange juice fortified with vitamin D1 cup10025
Margarine fortified1 tablespoon 6015
Liver (beef) cooked3.5 ounces4912
Sardines (canned in oil) drained2 sardines4612
Egg (vitamin D is found in yolk)1 large egg4110
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified (10% of the DV for vitamin D)0.75-1 cup 4010
Cheese (Swiss)1 ounce62

What does vitamin D do?

Vitamin D's main function is to build healthy bones and teeth. It does this by working with two minerals: calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D helps their absorption from our intestinal walls and maintains the correct level in our blood. This function is especially important for children, whose bone and tooth growth may become delayed or distorted if they do not get adequate amount of vitamin D. Another function of vitamin D is to release energy in the body; a lack of it can lead to sluggishness. Vitamin D may also help maintain healthy eyes and relieve conjunctivitis.

How much vitamin D should I get daily?
The Daily Value intake for vitamin D for an average adult (including pregnant or lactating women) is 600 IU (15 mcg).
Because of the ability to absorb vitamin D from sunlight, you do not need to eat 600IU of the vitamin in food. You will get enough vitamin D everyday by just walking in the sun or spending a few minutes enjoying sunshine. If you live in high latitude areas like New York, Canada, Michigan, UK, and northern Europe, you should have vitamin D fortified foods.

Never exceed the dosage for vitamin D, unless under medical supervision

References :

Office of Dietary Supplements - National Institutes of Health

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