Daily Archives: December 29, 2018

Food Sources of Vitamin D

Natural foods rich in vitamin D.

Vitamin D is important to maintaining a healthy body. Vitamin D deficiency is rampant in our modern age for a variety of reasons. The main reasons include our indoor lifestyle and use of skin protectant.

Science is not infallible, we must change our thinking when new information is exposed, and this pertains to the importance of vitamin D. In this post I will describe what Vitamin D is, how it helps our bodies, symptoms of deficiency,  the recommended amounts to consume each day and the foods that you can eat to obtain your Vitamin D.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that we obtain from food or our environment via the sun, or supplements. Vitamin D is stored in the human liver and fat from exposure during the sunny periods, for utilization during the winter, less sunny season. We have circumvented this natural process by limiting our exposure to sun in the summer months with sunscreen, clothes and a lifestyle of avoiding the sun.

The dermatologists have scared us to the point of damage. Skin cancer is a concern, but so is vitamin D deficiency

What does vitamin D do in our bodies?

  • Regulates the immune system
  • Regulates neuromuscular function
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Required for bone strength
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Decreases the risk for depression
  • Reduces risk for type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
  • May reduce risk for certain cancers

What are signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

Classic signs are rickets (which is an old disease of the bone) and osteomlacia. This is related to the interaction of vitamin D and calcium for bone strength. Subtle bone pain and fatigue can be symptoms that are missed with a Vitamin D deficiency. We do know that low Vitamin D can result in osteoporosis. Additionally, there is some evidence that colon cancer, diabetes type 2, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.

The medical conditions above demonstrate the broad array of physical effects from inadequate Vitamin D, and can seem nonspecific. However, a lab test can be a good place to start to identify your levels.

Who is at risk for vitamin D deficiency?

Certain people are at risk for Vitamin D deficiency and some of them include those who have indoor lifestyles, dark skinned people, infants who are nursed for a prolonged time. Additionally, men and women who have had gastric bypass or have inflammatory bowel disease appear to have limited ability to absorb it via their gut. Older adults are also at risk; this may be due to their tendency to be indoors. Medications can also put people at deficiency. It is known that steroids and certain cholesterol medicines as well as anti-epileptic medicine can interrupt the absorption and result in a deficiency.

What are the most common sources of vitamin D?         


Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. It is synthesized in the skin, by a certain wavelength in the sun’s rays; wave length 290-320 nanometers, penetrates the skin and synthesized through a chemical process to previtamin D which then converts to vitamin D.

We know that sun is a source, but this article is about the food sources of Vitamin D. The food sources are limited, but let’s review them now.


Vitamin D is not found naturally in many foods. Cow’s milk has been fortified with vitamin d for years.

Interestingly, the foods that are high in vitamin D are ones that are found in the sea. I always wondered why Eskimos who lived in the north- who had no sun for months, survived. Well, once again, God takes care of his humans. Blubber or muktuk, as its called by the Inuit/Eskimos of Alaska and Canada is high in vitamin C and vitamin D. Citrus is difficult to come by in the arctic, God is good.

 Ok, so we won’t be eating whale blubber, but we can eat wild caught salmon, wild caught mackerel, cod liver, tuna, and sardines.

The cow is a good source of vitamin D in the flesh and the calf liver. Egg yolks also have vitamin D. Dairy products that are fortified with vitamin D are also a good source, like cheese, or yoghurt made with the fortified milk.

Enhanced mushrooms have been developed to be an additional food source.

This is a table from a trusted website, National Institute of Health (see references) for food sources.

Food Sources
Food IUs per serving* Percent DV**
Cod liver oil, 1 table-
1,360 340
Swordfish, cooked, 3 ounces 566 142
Salmon (sockeye),
cooked, 3 ounces
447 112
Tuna fish, canned in water, drained,
3 ounces
154 39
Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup 137 34
Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup 115-124 29-31
Yogurt, fortified with
20% of the DV for
vitamin D, 6 ounces
80 20
Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon 60 15
Sardines, canned in oil, drained,
2 sardines
46 12
Liver, beef, cooked, 3 ounces 42 11
Egg, 1 large (vitamin D is found in yolk) 41 10
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 0.75-1 cup 40 10
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce 6 2


Recommended Numbers and Blood Levels

Recommended Daily Amounts of Vitamin D (RDA) varies depending on age and gender. Middle aged adults should be consuming 600 IU.

The lab value to aim for via a blood test for 25(OH)D is >30ng/ml.

This level should be the goal via sun, food and supplements.

Vitamin D research continues and its importance is becoming increasingly clear. To optimize your Vitamin D levels to reduce your risk for deficiency, ensure that you go outside for 20 minutes during the day without sunscreen, include food sources weekly, and take supplements to ensure that your levels are optimal.

You can go to your primary care provider to obtain a blood test, or you can go to my Ulta website and order it yourself and take the results to the doctor if they are abnormal.

Choosing healthy foods and staying active is paramount to reduce your risk for experiencing lifestyle related diseases. My book, Second Chance at Health-Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating can help you find the best eating plans and movement plans for you!


1. Vitamin D for Health Professionals/Fact Sheet. Retrieved from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/