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Vitamin D deficiency has become a global challenge. According to reports, eating Vitamin D rich foods help us maintain our physical and mental wellbeing. 

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a variety of health conditions, such as depressed mood, joint degeneration, osteoporosis and muscle weakness. These health conditions can be improved by boosting vitamin D levels through oral supplements or sun exposure. We mainly get vitamin D through sun exposure or dietary intake. But unfortunately, getting vitamin D from the sun is affected by several factors, such as skin tone, season, and hours of sunlight.

 On the other hand, only a few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Egg yolks and oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in vitamin D. Other few foods fortified with vitamin D include milk, orange juice as well as some bread and cereal. 

This article highlights seven Vitamin D rich foods alongside their nutrient quantities.

Key Functions of Vitamin D Rich Foods

Vitamin D rich foods have been found to play an essential role in brain development and function. Vitamin D has the ability to affect proteins which are known to be directly influencing learning, memory and possibly even maternal and social behaviour. This is why Vitamin D is highly recommended for pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Vitamin D also plays a vital role in maintaining an adequate level of calcium and phosphorus in the body. This is because Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus from food intakes. Without vitamin D, only 10 to 15% of dietary calcium and about 60% of phosphorus will be absorbed into the body from foods. Therefore, vitamin D has a significant effect on forming and maintaining strong bones. 

Infants receive adequate amounts of vitamin D from breast milk to maintain bone density. Likewise, active youth and older adults may benefit from increased vitamin D levels to improve muscle function and minimize the risk of bone problems.

Top Vitamin D Rich Foods Outlined

1.Salmon Fish

Salmon is a common oily fish, rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Interestingly, salmon is not only the food source with the highest vitamin D content, but alsoomega-3 fatty acidsA great source of

Note that the origin of the salmon fish also matters dearly. It is recorded that farmed and wild salmon differ slightly in terms of food quality and safety. Statistics suggest that wildly cultivated salmon (i.e. salmon caught in its natural habitat) have 600-1000 IU of vitamin D. Farmed salmon, on the other hand, though fresh, have as low as 100-250 IU of vitamin D. Lastly, the preserved salmon you get from the supermarket in sealed cans records about 300-600 IU of vitamin D. Eating regular servings of wild salmon is a fast way to increase Vitamin D levels.

Cod Liver Oil

You can get cod liver oil by eating fresh cod liver or by taking supplements. Cod liver dietary supplements are derived from the liver of codfish. Cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin D. These two vitamins are very crucial, especially for little children. This is because while vitamin A help maintains healthy tissue, vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth. Statistics opine that one teaspoon of Cod liver oil contains between 400-1000 IU of vitamin D.

Mackerels and Sardines

Sardines, herring and mackerel are a good source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and protein. It will also interest you to know that they are Vitamin D rich foods. Canned Sardines are very common around the world. They are easy to come by and inexpensive and are very delicious. It is calculated that 3.5 ounces (100-gram) of canned Sardines contains 300 IU of vitamin D. But, a 3.5 ounce (100-gram) can of mackerel is staked at 250 IU of vitamin D.

Canned Tuna

Everyone loves these little tins because of their unique taste and great flavour. I bet every kid would crave a bite of tuna sandwich at lunchtime.

The Tuna is a source of high-quality protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They contain low calorie and could serve as a reliable source of vitamin D for the family. The Canned Tuna takes the fourth place in our list of Vitamin D rich foods with a 3.5 ounce producing about 230 IU of vitamin D.


Mushrooms are vitamin D rich foods but a very rare delicacy for most people. However, you might want to reconsider your intake of these vegetables because they are the highest plant source of vitamin D.

Like humans, mushrooms are capable of producing vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Wildly grown mushrooms make an excellent choice over domestically bred varieties. This is because farmed mushrooms are sometimes grown in rooms with little exposure to sunlight. It is scientifically believed that placing any mushroom under the sun for 20 minutes will boost its vitamin D level. This could be true because 3.5 ounces of fresh shiitake mushrooms contain 100 IU of vitamin D. However, the same 3.5 ounces but “sun-dried” shiitake mushrooms contain as high as 1600 IU of vitamin D.

Egg yolk

Eggs are highly nutritious. They are a good source of protein, minerals and vitamins like vitamin D. Vitamin D content in eggs is very different. The average full-egg yolk is believed to contain 20 IU of vitamin D. However eating eggs laid by chicken fed with vitamin-D-enriched mash have a higher vitamin D content of up to 5,000 IU per yolk. Consequently, eating eggs advertised as high in vitamin D can be a great way of achieving your daily requirements.

Fortified foods

It is true that natural sources of vitamin D rich foods are very few. However, many manufactures are increasing rich vitamin D sources with the introduction of fortified foods. Fortified foods may contain less vitamin D than natural sources. Nevertheless, combining two or more of these foods into a single diet can collectively add up to a considerable sum of vitamin D nutrient. Always reconfirm if a product is truly fortified. You can quickly scan through label information for guidance.

Some vitamin D fortified foods are:

• Fortified milk (mostly soy milk and cow milk): 3.5 ounces of fortified milk usually contain 100 IU of vitamin D

• Fortified butter: 3.5 ounces of fortified butter usually contain 50 IU of vitamin D

• Fortified orange juice: 8 ounces of an orange juice contains 100 IU of vitamin D

• Fortified yoghurts: 8 ounces of fortified yoghurts have 100 IU of vitamin D

• Fortified margarine: 3.5 ounces of fortified margarine usually contains 430 IU of vitamin D 

• Fortified cheeses: 3 ounces of fortified cheese usually have 100 IU of vitamin D           

• Fortified breakfast cereals: A serving may contain about 100 IU of vitamin D.        


Michael Yeung
Author: Michael Yeung

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