Scientists say half the world’s population may not get sufficient sunlight, and four out of ten Americans are deficient in vitamin D. Today, more than any time in the past, people spend most of their time indoors. They also wear sunblock, and they eat the “standard American diet,” which is low in this vitamin.
The Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin D is 400 IU per day from foods. However, many health organizations suggest 600 IU. If you do not get much sun, that amount should probably be 1,000 IU daily. Fortunately, vitamin D is unique in that it is available from the sun, as a supplement, and from food.
Here are nine foods that are rich in vitamin D:
Salmon is a great source; 100 grams of this fatty fish delivers between 361 and 685 IU of vitamin D. Wild-caught salmon is higher in vitamin D than farmed fish, and also less likely to be contaminated with toxic chemicals.
2. Herring and Sardines
Herring can be eaten raw, canned, smoked or pickled. It provides 1,628 IU per 100 gram serving, or 200 percent of the RDI.
Sardines are a type of herring, also high in vitamin D. A single serving contains 272 IU.
3. Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil supplement has 450 IU per teaspoonful, and it has been used for generations to prevent and treat deficiencies in children. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Finally, cod liver oil is high in vitamin A, with 90 percent of the RDI in just one teaspoon. Because vitamin A can be toxic in excess, be careful to avoid overdose.
4. Canned Tuna
Canned tuna is a convenient, inexpensive alternative to fresh fish. A 100-gram serving of canned light tuna contains up to 236 IU of vitamin D. Canned tuna can be high in methylmercury, which can cause serious health problems. Light tuna is lower in this toxin than white tuna; scientists say it is safe to eat up to six ounces per week.
Just 100 grams of wild oysters delivers 320 IU of vitamin D, and contains only 68 calories. They also contain vitamin B12, copper and zinc.
Shrimp are very low in fat, but they contain 152 IU of vitamin D per serving, along with healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
7. Egg Yolks
Eggs are not only delicious, they are packed with vitamin D. A conventionally-grown egg yolk contains between 18 and 39 IU of vitamin D. However, eggs from pasture-raised chickens offer three to four times that amount, because the chickens have roamed outside in sunshine. Eggs that come from chickens fed vitamin D-enriched food contain even more.
Mushrooms are the only natural plant source of vitamin D. Mushrooms, like people, are capable of synthesizing vitamin D when exposed to UV light. While animals produce vitamin D3, however, mushrooms produce vitamin D2. D2 is considered less effective than D3 at raising blood levels of this nutrient.
Wild mushrooms contain as much as 2,300 IU per 100 gram serving. Commercially grown mushrooms, though, are often grown in the dark and contain little vitamin D.
9. Commercially fortified foods
It is possible to buy foods that have been commercially produced and fortified with vitamin D. These include breakfast cereal, cow’s milk, soy milk, and orange juice,
Time outside in the sunshine is the very best way to satisfy your body’s need for vitamin D. However, when you cannot do that, be sure and include some of these foods in your daily diet.