People don’t get much vitamin D from their diet. Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to UV rays from the sun. It only takes a few minutes of sun exposure every day to get your vitamin D. However, if you live in a place where it gets colder in the winter, there’s a good chance you won’t get enough sun exposure for several months out of each year.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s essential for proper absorption of calcium in your digestive tract. It also helps maintain blood levels of calcium and phosphate. That’s why getting enough vitamin D is necessary for bone health throughout your life—vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets in kids and osteoporosis in adults.
Most experts recommend a daily intake of 600 International Units (IUs) for anyone between the ages of 1 and 70. Infants should be around 400 IUs and people older than 70 should be getting about 800 IUs. You won’t find many foods that are high in vitamin D, but there are some. We’ll show you a few that you can add to your diet when there’s simply not enough sun outside.
Maitake mushrooms, or “hen in the woods” mushrooms, are a delicious and low-calorie source of vitamin D. They also offer potassium and several B-complex vitamins. One cup of diced maitake mushrooms has more than 700 IUs of vitamin D.
Additionally, maitake mushrooms might have health benefits beyond being simply nutritious and delicious. There’s potential that they can lower blood pressure as well as your diabetes risk.
UV-Exposed Portabella Mushrooms
Regular portabella mushrooms have a small amount of vitamin D, but portabellas grown with extra exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light have much more. One whole UV-exposed portabella mushroom has about 375 IUs of vitamin D. Portabellas are also an excellent source of selenium, potassium, and several B-complex vitamins.
According to the Mushroom Council, growers can give this UV exposure boost to a few of the most common mushrooms. Next time you’re shopping, look carefully to see if any labels make a special point about vitamin D or UV light.
Chanterelle mushrooms are another good plant-based source of vitamin D. One cup of chanterelles has more than 100 IUs of vitamin D. These mushrooms are also an excellent source of potassium and low in calories; one cup has just 20 calories.
Fish oils contain vitamin D so it makes sense that fatty fish like salmon are good for getting vitamin D. Three ounces of fresh pink salmon have 370 IUs and three ounces of canned sockeye salmon has almost 800 IUs of vitamin D.
Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and an antioxidant called astaxanthin. And don’t let the idea that salmon is a “fatty fish” scare you off—a six-ounce piece of salmon has only about 200 calories.
Healthy Salmon Recipes:
- Baked Salmon With Herbs
- Crusted Pesto Salmon
- Salmon Salad
- Spinach and Pesto Salmon
Halibut is a good source of vitamin D, with about 200 IUs in a three-ounce serving of fish. Halibut is also a good source of protein, B-complex vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and potassium. Eating halibut will provide you with essential omega-3 fatty acids as well, so there are many good reasons to cook up this fish.
Trout is another good source of vitamin D. Since it’s a white fish, it has a milder flavor than oilier fish like salmon and tuna. Three ounces of rainbow trout has about 650 IUs of vitamin D. Trout is also an excellent source of protein, B-complex vitamins, and minerals.
Canned tuna has about 40 IUs of vitamin D in a three-ounce serving so each can has about 80 IUs. Canned tuna is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
The best part about this food is that it’s convenient. Keep canned tuna on hand for sandwiches, salads, and your favorite recipes for a healthy boost.
Healthy Canned Tuna Recipes
- Tuna Walnut Salad
- Tuna Wrap
Fortified Breakfast Cereal
Breakfast cereal can be good for you if it’s made with whole grains and is low in added sugar. It’s common practice to fortify breakfast cereals with vitamins and minerals so you’ll typically find about 100 IUs of vitamin D in one cup of dry cereal. Whole grain cereals are also a good source of many vitamins and minerals, plus fiber.
Milk isn’t naturally a good source of vitamin D, but it is required to be fortified with vitamin D. One cup of milk has about 125 IUs of vitamin D.
Milk is also a good source of calcium, potassium, and protein.
Fortified Milk Alternatives
Milk alternatives such as soy milk and almond milk are also fortified with vitamin D and calcium. Choose from plain unsweetened milk or explore flavored varieties like chocolate almond milk, which is as delicious as it sounds.
These alternatives can often be used in place of cow’s milk. Just make sure you choose a flavor that fits the meal.
Vitamin D is found in the egg yolks, making whole eggs a good way to add some vitamin D to your diet. Each egg yolk has about 40 IUs of vitamin D so eating two eggs contributes 80 IUs to your daily intake. Eggs are also an excellent source of protein and lutein. One egg has about 70 calories.
Healthy Egg Recipe
- Eggs Florentine
Vitamin D is also available as a dietary supplement, either alone or combined with other nutrients. Calcium supplements, for example, typically include vitamin D.
Vitamin D supplements are generally safe, but follow label directions and keep them away from young kids. Vitamin D in large amounts can become toxic over time. Also, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider before taking vitamin D supplements if you have any health conditions or take medications.
A Word From Tips For Healthy Living
Even though vitamin D isn’t found in a lot of foods, you can see that there are some tasty options available. Keep these in mind, especially on those dreary winter days, but be sure to take advantage of the ultimate source of vitamin D. Standing outside in the sun for even a few minutes can do wonders for your health.