5 Natural Food Sources of Vitamin D

With winter coming, discover more ways to get those vitamin D benefits.

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Entering autumn, the days shorten, and with a chill in the air, the sun seems to lose its strength. Less sun time means a reduced ability to get your dose of vitamin D outdoors. Although you may already be taking a vitamin D supplement, there are also important natural foods that contain this “sunshine” vitamin.

This important vitamin helps to strengthen your immune system and assist in bone health, as well as decrease infections, according to a  study from the Journal of Investigative Medicine.

For people aged 1-70 years, the National Institute for Health recommends 600 IU of vitamin D daily, as seen on their fact sheet. However, 50 percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D according to Healthline.

Although many foods such as cereal, yogurt, milk, and plant-based milks are already fortified with Vitamin D, there are a few foods that provide it naturally. As winter approaches, maintain your level of Vitamin D by eating these naturally-rich vitamin D healthy foods.

Salmon and Other Fatty Fish

Make sure to have salmon on your menu. That's because it contains vitamins D2 and D3. According to the USDA, one 100-gram serving of this fatty fish has 526 IU. Healthline suggests eating wild salmon because it has more vitamin D than farmed salmon.In fact, 100 grams of wild salmon can have 124 percent of the daily value, while farmed salmon has just one quarter of this amount, containing 250 IU of vitamin D. 

Herring and rainbow trout
Fresh Atlantic herring is a winner, with 219 IU of vitamin D for a 100-gram serving, according to Healthline. Pickled herring is also a good choice, offering 14 percent of the recommended daily value. Rainbow trout is another fish rich in vitamin D, with three ounces containing 645 UI of the vitamin, according to HealthDigest. As it is a small, thin fish, it can be baked quickly.

Sardines, mackerel, and halibut
Canned sardines are another great vitamin D option, with one can offering 22 percent of the daily value. Or, have a half fillet of mackerel with 360 IU, or halibut, with 384 IU per half fillet. Halibut also offers protein, zinc, magnesium, B-complex vitamins, potassium, and omega 3 fatty acids, according to verywellfit.

A plate of grilled salmon.

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Mushrooms are an ideal choice for vegans and offer a good source of vitamin D2. One cup of chopped maitake mushrooms offers more than 700 IU of vitamin D, as well as potassium and B-complex vitamins, according to verywellfit.

When mushrooms are exposed to UV light while they are growing, they are an even higher source of vitamin D. For example, a whole portabella mushroom that has been exposed to UV light has 375 IU of vitamin D, plus selenium, B complex, and potassium.

Chanterelle mushrooms are another great choice, with one cup offering over 100 IU of vitamin D, as well as potassium. Shiitake mushrooms exposed to UV light are another good source of vitamin D, according to Your Vegan Journey.

A bowl of raw chanterelle mushrooms.

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Free range eggs and organic eggs are an excellent source of vitamin D, as shown in Natural Health News. It is the egg yolk that offers the most D3. In fact, a study in Food Chemistry shows that free-range, as well as organic eggs, contain 42 percent more vitamin D3 than eggs from chickens kept indoors.

The study also indicated that organic eggs also have higher levels of an additional form of vitamin D known as 25-hydroxyvitamin. Eating one free range or organic egg per day offers 20 percent of the daily value of vitamin D.

A basket of organic eggs fresh from the farm.

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Beef Liver

A braised, 3-ounce serving of liver offers 42 IU of vitamin D, as detailed by the NIH. As liver is high in cholesterol, just be sure to have a small portion.

A plate of fried liver with onions.

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Oysters are a very nutritious food choice and one of the few foods that offer vitamin D naturally. Eating just 100 grams of oysters gives you 320 IU of vitamin D, which is 80 percent of the daily value, according to Nutrition Advance.

A dozen raw oysters served on a platter with a lemon wedge.

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