Vitamin D is is a fat-soluble vitamin and the only nutrient your body produces when exposed to sunlight. You should know, that your body can store extra amounts of Vitamin D. However, up to 50% of the world’s population and 70% of the europeans may not get enough sunlight sunlight. According to a 2011 study, 41.6% of adults in the US are deficient. This number goes up to 69.2% in Hispanics and 82.1% in African-Americans.

Why is it important to get enough of Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is important for a number of reasons, including maintaining healthy bones and teeth (because it helps our bodes absorb and use calcium and phosphorus). It may also protect against a range of conditions such as colorectal cancer ((this is still being studied), type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D can help protect older adults against osteoporosis. Also, it can protect against infections by keeping your immune system healthy. So, Vitamin D has multiple roles in the body and the following table will show you how much you should aim for.

Age in YearsAim for an intake of
internaitional units
(IU/day)*
Stay below*
IU/day
Men and Women 19-506004000
Men and Women 51-70 6004000
Men and Women 71 and older8004000
Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women 19 and
older
6004000

* This includes sources of Vitamin D from food and supplements.

The reason why people don`t get enough of Vitamin D is because they spend more time indoors, wear sunblock outside and eat a Western diet low in good sources of this vitamin.

Vitamin D is not found naturally in many commonly consumed foods and some foods such as milk, soy or rice beverages and margarine have Vitamin D added to them. Good food sources of Vitamin D include certain kinds of fish, egg yolks and milk. Here are 8 healthy foods that are most high in Vitamin D.

salmon1. Salmon

Salmon is incredibly nutritious. Each serving contains a low amount of calories but packs in tons of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and important vitamins and minerals like B12, B6, niacin, selenium and magnesium. According to the USDA Food Composition Database, one 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of salmon contains between 361 and 685 IU of Vitamin D.

But, it can make a big difference whether the salmon was wild or farmed. Some studies have found very levels in wild salmon — up to 1,300 IU per serving.

On average, wild-caught salmon packs 988 IU of Vitamin D per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, or 165% of the RDI. Farmed salmon contains only 25% of that amount.

herring burger2. Herring and Sardines

Herrings and sardines are so similar that herrings are often canned and labeled as sardines — so their nutritional benefits are similar too. Both herring and sardines are very good for us because besides Vitamin D, they provide also high levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats that also play an important role in normal brain development and function.

Fresh Atlantic herring provides 1,628 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, which is nearly three times the RDI.

Pickled herring is also a great source of vitamin D, providing 680 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, or 113% of the RDI.

However, you should be aware, that pickled herring also contains a high amount of sodium, which some people consume too much of.

Sardines are a good source of Vitamin D as well — one serving contains 272 IU, or 45% of the RDI. Halibut and mackerel provide 600 and 360 IU per servingrespectively.

oil3. Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is a type of fish oil supplement that can improve your health in many ways. As with most fish oils, it contains the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Cod liver oil also contains Vitamin A and Vitamin D.

Historically, it was given to children because Vitamin D had been shown to prevent rickets, a consequence of vitamin D deficiency.

So, if you don’t like fish, taking cod liver oil can be an alternative. It’s an excellent source of vitamin D — at about 450 IU per teaspoon (4.9 ml), it clocks in at a massive 75% of the RDI.

It’s been used for many years to prevent and treat deficiencyin children. Therefore, be cautious with cod liver oil, making sure to not take too much.

tuna sushi4. Canned Tuna

Canned tuna is a good source of essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, high quality protein, Vitamin K, selenium and Vitamin D. Many people enjoy canned tuna because of its flavor and easy storage methods.

But eating canned tuna can be a risk, because unfortunately, it contains methylmercury, a toxin found in many types of fish. If it builds up in your body, it can cause serious health problems.

However, some types of fish pose less risk than others. For instance, light tuna is typically a better choice than white tuna — it’s considered safe to eat up to 6 ounces (170 grams) per week.

Canned light tuna packs up to 236 IU of Vitamin D in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, which is nearly half of the RDI.

oysters5. Oysters

Oyster is the common name for a number of different families of saltwater bivalve molluscs that live in marine or brackish habitats. They’re low in calories and full of nutrients like protein, vitamin B12, minerals like copper, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.

One 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of wild oysters has only 68 calories but contains all 9 essential amino acids and 320 IU of Vitamin D — over half the RDI.

shrimp6. Shrimp

Shrimp is one of the most popular seafood in the United States, and these tasty prawns can be a healthy addition to your diet. They provide key nutrients. Aside from protein, shrimp provide a pretty impressive array of nutrients.

Four ounces steamed contains over 100% of the Daily Value for selenium, over 75% for vitamin B12, over 50% for phosphorous, and over 30% for choline, copper, omega-3 fatty acids and iodine.

They are very low in fat and contain a good amount of Vitamin D — 152 IU per serving, or 25% of the RDI.

egg7. Egg Yolks

They are a great source of high-quality protein, as well as several important vitamins and minerals. While most of the protein in an egg is found in the white, the fat, vitamins and minerals are found mostly in the yolk. One large egg yolk contains around 55 calories, 4.5 grams of total fat and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, 210 mg of cholesterol, 8 mg of sodium, and 2.7 grams of protein.

One average egg yolk from chickens raised indoors contains 18-39 IUof vitamin D. However, pasture-raised chickens that roam outside in the sunlight produce eggs with levels 3–4 times higher.

mushroom8. Mushrooms

Low in calories and fat and cholesterol-free, mushrooms contain a modest amount of fiber and over a dozen minerals and vitamins, including copper, potassium, magnesium, zinc and a number of B vitamins such as folate. Excluding fortified foods, mushrooms are the only plant source of Vitamin D. Like humans, mushrooms can synthesize this vitamin when exposed to UV light.

However, mushrooms produce Vitamin D2, whereas animals produce Vitamin D3. Though vitamin D2 helps raise blood levels of Vitamin D, it may not be as effective as Vitamin D3. But you should know that, commercially grown mushrooms are often grown in the dark and contain very little D2.

Nonetheless, wild mushrooms are excellent sources of vitamin D2. In fact, some varieties pack up to 2,300 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving — nearly four times the RDI.

soy milk and strawberry9. Fortified Foods

Fortified foods are foods to which extra nutrients have been added. Examples of these nutrients include vitamin A, B vitamins, Vitamin D (usually 55-130 IU per serving), folic acid, iodine, and iron. The original purpose of food fortificationwas to decrease the occurrence of nutrient deficiencies.

Though fortified foods provide less vitamin D than many natural sources, they can still be a good way to boost your intake.

Because vitamin D is found almost exclusively in animal products, vegetarians and vegans are at a particularly high risk of not getting enough. Fortunately plant-based milk substitutes such as soy milk are also often fortified with this nutrient. So, as natural sources of Vitamin D are limited, especially if you’re vegetarian or don’t like fish, then you should consider to use those food products.

  • Cow’s Milk –  It usually contains about 130 IU per cup (237 ml), or about 22% of the RDI.
  • Soy Milk – One cup (237 ml) typically contains between 99 and 119 IU of Vitamin D, which is up to 20% of the RDI.
  • Orange Juice – One cup (237 ml) of fortified orange juice contains up to 142 IU of Vitamin D, or 24% of the RDI.
  • Cereal and Oatmeal – A 1/2-cup serving of these foods can provide between 55 and 154 IU, or up to 26% of the RDI.

fish sushiThe following table will show you also other foods that are a source of Vitamin D.

FoodServing SizeVitamin D (IU)
Vegetables and Fruit
Mushrooms100 g (3 ½ oz)2300
Orange juice, fortified with vitamin D125 mL (½ cup)50
Other vegetables and fruitThis food group contains very little of this nutrient
Grain ProductsThis food group contains very little of this nutrient
Milk and Alternatives
Soy beverage, fortified with vitamin D250 mL (1 cup)86
Milk (3.3 % homo, 2%, 1%, skim, chocolate milk)250 mL (1 cup)103-10
Skim milk powdered 24 g (will make 250 mL of milk)103
Yogurt (plain, fruit bottom), fortified with vitamin D175 g (3/4 cup)58-71
Meat and Alternatives
Egg, yolk, cooked2 large
57-88
Pork, various cuts, cooked75 g (2 ½ oz)6-60
Deli meat (pork, beef, salami, bologna)75 g (2 ½ oz)/ 3 slices30-54
Beef liver, cooked75 g (2 ½ oz)36
Fish and Seafood
Salmon, sockeye/red, canned, cooked or raw75 g (2 ½ oz)
394-636
Salmon, humpback/pink, canned, cooked or raw
75 g (2 ½ oz)
392-447
Salmon, coho, raw or cooked
75 g (2 ½ oz)338-422
Snapper, cooked75 g (2 ½ oz)392
Salmon, chinook, raw or cooked
75 g (2 ½ oz)382-387
Whitefish, lake, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz)
135
Mackerel, Pacific, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz)
343
Salmon, Atlantic, raw or cooked
75 g (2 ½ oz)
206-245
Salmon, chum/keta, raw or cooked75 g (2 ½ oz)203-221
Mackerel, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz)219
Herring, Atlantic, pickled75 g (2 ½ oz)202
Trout, cooked
75 g (2 ½ oz)
148-208
Herring, Atlantic, cooked
75 g (2 ½ oz)
161
Roe, raw
30 g (1 oz)
145
Sardines, Pacific, canned
75 g (2 ½ oz)
144
Halibut, cooked
75 g (2 ½ oz)
144
Tuna, albacore, raw or cooked
75 g (2 ½ oz)
99-106
Mackerel, Atlantic, cooked
75 g (2 ½ oz)
78
Tuna, white, canned with water
75 g (2 ½ oz)
60
Shrimp100 g (3 ½ oz)152
Oysters100 g (3 ½ oz)320

Sources: Healthline.com, Dietitians.ca, Canadian Nutrient File 2015

Pictures: Pexels.com, Pixabay.com

 

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