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12 Best Foods to Boost Your Body’s Vitamin D

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Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for efficient calcium absorption, which in turn helps to maintain blood levels of calcium and phosphate and also helps you build and maintain strong bones thereby, reducing the chances of osteoporosis, rickets, osteomalacia, chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis and certain types of cancer.

How much Vitamin D should you aim for?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 600 international units (IU) each day for children and adults and 800 IU for older adults (individuals ages 70 and older). The Endocrine Society also recommends 600 IU daily for adults but suggests more may be needed to increase blood levels of vitamin D above a specific range.

Meanwhile, the Vitamin D Council suggests humans need 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day, while the Institute of Medicine says the tolerable upper level of vitamin D is 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

Age in Years Aim for an intake of international units (IU/day) Stay below IU/day
Men and Women 19-50 600 4000
Men and Women 51-70 600 4000
Men and Women 71 and older 800 4000
Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women 19 and older 600 4000

12 Foods to Boost Your Body’s Vitamin D

It is important to get enough Vitamin D from your diet because your body can make Vitamin D only when your skin is exposed to UV rays from the sun. According to the NIH, an exposure of 5 – 30 minutes to the sun between 10 am and 3 pm twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen is usually sufficient to help boost vitamin D intake. This process varies depending on the season, cloud cover, time of day, skin color, and sunscreen use. If you aren’t able to get outdoors in the middle of the day or if you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough vitamin D, try including these foods in your diet:

1. Salmon

Salmon is a good source of Vitamin D and also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and antioxidants. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, a division of the NIH, 3 ounces of cooked salmon offers about 447 IU of vitamin D and a six-ounce piece of salmon has only about 200 calories.

2. Canned Tuna

3 ounces of canned tuna in water contains 154 IU of vitamin D. Canned tuna is also a good source of potassium, magnesium, selenium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Fortified Cereal


Fortified cereal can be a good breakfast option 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 some can contain more than 300 IUs of vitamin D per serving to get you halfway to your daily goal. Whole grain cereals are also a great source of many vitamins and minerals, plus fiber.

4. Fortified Milk


Milk is not a naturally good source of vitamin D, but it is required to be fortified with vitamin D. One cup of milk has around 125 IUs of vitamin D. Milk is also a rich source of calcium, potassium, and protein. Fortified plant-based milk, such as soy, can also offer some vitamin D. A typical 200ml glass of cow’s milk contains at least 100 IUs of vitamin D, but the amount can be high or low depending on how much of the vitamin is added.

5. Eggs


Vitamin D is found in the egg yolks, making whole eggs a good source of vitamin D. Each egg yolk has about 41 IUs of vitamin D so eating two eggs contributes 80 IUs to your daily intake. Eggs are also a rich source of protein and lutein. One egg has about 70 calories. Eggs are also a good source of all your essential amino acids, choline, and healthy fats. Always opt for free-range or pastured eggs, as they contain 4 to 6 times more vitamin D.

6. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D that offer several B vitamins and potassium, too. Vitamin D levels differ with each mushroom type, such as shitake, morel, portobello, and chanterelle. You can also buy mushrooms that have been treated with UV light, giving them even higher vitamin D levels. The vitamin D amounts will vary depending on the amount of ultraviolet light, according to the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA. A serving could offer between 400 and 700 IU of Vitamin D.

7. Fortified Orange Juice

One cup, 250 ml of fortified orange juice can add up to 137 IU of vitamin D to your daily total. It is often packed with added calcium too, which is great because vitamin D helps your body absorb the bone-boosting mineral.

8. Fortified Yogurt

Yogurt is an excellent source of good-for-the-gut probiotics, and reaching for a fortified variety will knock off between 10 and 20 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin D, depending on the brand.

9. Sardines

Sardines are one of the most nutrient-dense seafood, providing lots of protein, many essential vitamins and minerals, and anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Sardines can be bought in a can or fresh. Two sardines from a can offer about 46 IU of vitamin D or 8 percent of your daily value.

10. Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is one of the top sources of vitamin D and also happens to be a great source of vitamin A and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. If the taste is hard for you to tolerate, you can also take it in capsule form. One tablespoon of the cod liver oil contains about 1,300 IU of vitamin D—more than any other food on this list. It can be taken in the form of a supplement, and can also help in boosting immunity.

11. Oysters

Oysters are extraordinarily high in nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin B12, copper, and zinc, with a surprisingly low-calorie count. They contain approximately 300 IU per serving, or even more, depending on the type of oyster.

12. Ghee

Adding Ghee as your cooking fat is a good way to eat a food rich in vitamin D. Always remember that the ghee you use needs to come from grass-fed, organically raised animals.


Vitamin D is a crucial vitamin that many of us lack since it isn’t easy to come across in our everyday food supply. It’s important to start adding these nutrient-rich foods into our diet. Toss mushrooms into your egg omelet, choose salmon, tuna or sardines for your protein source, and enjoy a few more minutes of sunshine this summer to make sure you have healthy levels of vitamin D!

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