Although we can find many foods in the supermarket that have been fortified with a synthetic form of vitamin D, there are only a select number of foods that naturally contain vitamin D.
Normally, our body takes in vitamin D in the form of sun-synthesis through the skin. But in our modern times, where many of us spend countless hours indoors, our actual exposure to the sun is limited. This fact may be a principle cause of many ailments, including depression .
Personal Disclaimer: I follow an organic vegan diet and I personally use Vitamin D3 serum from premier research labs or consume Shiitake mushrooms. I also make sure I get some sunlight everyday. However, because I have received so many requests from meat eaters on sources of vitamin D in foods I decided to post the following food sources. I must say though that I do recommend a meatless diet for optimum health.
The Top Foods Containing Vitamin D
1. Shiitake and Button Mushrooms
Surprisingly, the dried versions of shiitake mushrooms are high in vitamin D. This may be due to the fact that these mushrooms are great at sucking up sunlight. Shiitake mushrooms are also rich in B vitamins like B1 and B2. Make sure that you find mushrooms that have been dried in the sun, not by artificial means, in order to achieve the benefits of high vitamin D content.
A small, 3½ ounce portion of these high omega-3 containing fish will give you 90% of your recommended daily amount. Currently, the FDA recommends that people eat more of these oily fishes to infuse their bodies with the vitamins and omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA’s) that the human body cannot produce on its own.
3. Sockeye Salmon
A small 3½ ounce portion of cooked salmon will give you 90% of the recommended dietary intake of Vitamin D. Make sure to purchase salmon that has been caught from the wild, if not, then sustainably farmed.
Herring are high in vitamin D because they thrive on plankton, which is full of vitamin D.
Sardines are one of the best foods sources of vitamin D. One small tin can of sardines will provide you with approximately 70% of your daily needs. These tiny canned fish are also a great source for vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and selenium.
Catfish: Again, another fish that makes a habit of feeding on plankton, catfish are constantly taking in minuscule sea life that create vitamin D from sunlight.
Eat 3 ounces of tuna daily for 50% of your vitamin D needs. Fresh, wild-caught tuna is the most nutritious. Remember, eating oily fish can also lubricate the body with “good fats” that provide health benefits like better memory and brain function.
8. Cod Liver Oil
If you can stomach the strong aroma, this oil is super-rich in vitamin D. This golden oil, is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Incorporating this oil into your diet will help promote healthy and strong bones. Because of its high Vitamin D content, cod liver oil has also been shown to prevent osteoporosis in adults, improve brain function, and optimize nervous system function.
Eggs are another food that contains vitamin D in small amounts. Eating one egg daily will provide you with approximately 10% of your daily needs. I personally recommend eating free-range eggs from a local farm, if possible.
Okay, we know it’s not a food, but daily “doses” of sunshine can seriously increase your vitamin D intake. In fact, this vitamin has actually been referred to as the sunshine vitamin. Light hitting the skin from the sun’s rays stimulates the production of this vitamin and hormone. This is great news for those of us that can take a sun-bath daily. But, for those of us in colder, cloudier climates, we can up our intake from the foods we eat. This could explain why Native Inuit people in Alaska ate so much fish!
7 Health Benefits of Vitamin D
There are many reasons to stock up on foods containing vitamin D, health benefits of the vitamin include:
- The prevention of chronic diseases such as many forms of cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension.
- The protection and lubrication of your bones, teeth and hair.
- The regulation of cellular growth and healthy cell activity.
- Overall reduction of the inflammatory response, a condition known to cause many chronic diseases, from cancer to diabetes to obesity.
- Protection against adult osteoporosis.
- Reduction in the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
- Significant reduction in the occurrence of prostate cancer in African-American men.
As I mentioned above, if you are a vegetarian or don’t eat fish, you can still get the same benefits by taking a vitamin D supplement or make sure to get plenty of sun on a daily basis.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
- Vitamin D Council. Vitamin D and Depression: A patient friendly summary. 2012.