Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin D

Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin required by the body for the absorption of calcium, bone development, immune functioning, and alleviation of inflammation.

A deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to rickets, a weakened immune system, increased cancer risk, poor hair growth, and osteomalacia. Excess vitamin D can cause the body to absorb too much calcium, leading to increased risk of heart disease and kidney stones.

The current U.S. Daily Value for vitamin D is 600 IU (international units) and the toxicity threshold is thought to be 10,000 to 40,000 IU/day.2

Sometimes vitamin D values are given in micrograms (mcg,μg), when this is the case remember that 1μg=40IU for Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is oil soluble, which means you need to eat fat to absorb it. Foods high in vitamin D include fish, mushrooms exposed to sunlight, fortified milk, fortified milk substitutes, fortified tofu, fortified yogurt, fortified breakfast cereals, fortified orange juice, pork chops, and eggs. The amount of vitamin D can vary greatly in fortified foods, so check product labels before buying.

In addition to foods, Vitamin D is also naturally made by your body when you expose your skin to the sun and is called the sunshine vitamin. Depending on where you live, 20 minutes of sun exposure a day is enough to meet your vitamin D requirement.

Below is a list of top 10 foods highest in vitamin D by common serving size, for more see the extended list of foods rich in vitamin D, and the nutrient ranking of over 200 foods high in vitamin D.

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List of High Vitamin D Foods

Salmon 1 Fish (Salmon)
  • 189% DV (1136IU) vitamin D per 6oz fillet
  • Calories: 265 | Weight: 170g (6oz)

More Fish High in Vitamin D

-122% DV in 3oz of canned salmon
-108% DV in a 3oz rainbow trout fillet
-42% DV in 6oz tilapia fillet

See all fish high in vitamin D.

Nutrition Facts for Cooked Sockeye Salmon.
Crimini mushrooms 2 Crimini Mushrooms (Exposed to UV Light)
  • 185% DV (1110IU) vitamin D per cup
  • Calories: 19 | Weight: 87g (3.1oz)

More Mushrooms Exposed to Sunlight High in Vitamin D

-163% DV in 1 cup of portabellas
-131% DV in 1 cup of miatakes
-122% DV in 1 cup of white button

Mushrooms create vitamin D from sunlight much like our bodies. Placing any mushroom under the sun for 20 minutes will boost its vitamin D level.

See the list of vegetables (mushrooms) high in vitamin D.

Nutrition Facts for Crimini Mushrooms (Exposed to Sunlight or UV).
A glass of milk 3 Fortified Milk
  • 42% DV (254IU) vitamin D per 16oz glass
  • Calories: 298 | Weight: 488g (17.2oz)
Buttermilk, whole milk, low-fat milk, and skim milk all provide around 20% DV per 8oz cup.

See all dairy foods high in vitamin D.

Nutrition Facts for Whole Milk.
A glass of soymilk with soybeans 4 Fortified Milk Substitutes (Soymilk)
  • 39% DV (233IU) vitamin D per 16oz glass
  • Calories: 160 | Weight: 486g (17.1oz)

Other Fortified Milk Substitutes High in Vitamin D

-36% DV per 16oz glass of almond milk
-32% DV per 16oz glass of rice milk
-32% DV per 16oz glass of coconut milk

Nutrition Facts for Soymilk.
A block of tofu 5 Fortified Tofu
  • 38% DV (226IU) vitamin D per cup
  • Calories: 208 | Weight: 226g (8oz)
Plain yogurt with a raspberry 6 Fortified Yogurt
  • 21% DV (127IU) vitamin D per cup
  • Calories: 250 | Weight: 245g (8.6oz)
A bowl of bran flakes 7 Fortified Breakfast Cereal
  • 17% DV (100IU) vitamin D per 3/4 cup
  • Calories: 96 | Weight: 30g (1.1oz)
A glass of orange juice 8 Fortified Orange Juice
  • 17% DV (100IU) vitamin D per cup
  • Calories: 117 | Weight: 249g (8.8oz)
Note: A cup of orange juice contains up to 20 grams of sugar.

Nutrition Facts for Orange Juice with added Calcium and Vitamin D.
A pork chop 9 Pork Chops
  • 14% DV (82IU) vitamin D in 1 pork chop
  • Calories: 525 | Weight: 206g (7.3oz)

Other Pork Products High in Vitamin D

-15% DV per 3oz of spare ribs
-12% DV in 3oz of lean ham
-9% DV in 3oz of shoulder roast
-6% DV in 3oz of Italian sausage

See all meats high in vitamin D.

Nutrition Facts for Pork Chops (With Fat).
Eggs 10 Eggs
  • 7% DV (44IU) vitamin D in 1 large egg
  • Calories: 78 | Weight: 50g (1.8oz)
-20% DV in 1 cup of chopped hard boiled eggs.

Nutrition Facts for Hard Boiled Eggs.

See All 200 Foods High in Vitamin D

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Even More Vitamin D Rich Foods

#1 Eel 317% DV (1901IU) in 1 fillet
#2 Cod Liver Oil 75% DV (450IU) in 1 tsp
#3 Queso Fresco 22% DV (132IU) in 1 cup
#4 Fortified American Cheese 14% DV (85IU) in 1oz slice
#5 Fish Roe 11% DV (68IU) in 1 tblsp
#6 Lean Ham 4% DV (26IU) in 1oz slice
#7 Beef Short Ribs 4% DV (24IU) in 3oz
#8 Caviar 3% DV (19IU) in 1 tblsp
#9 Lean Beef Roast 2% DV (14IU) in 3oz
#10 Turkey 2% DV (14IU) in 3oz
#11 Chicken 1% DV (7IU) in 3oz

People at Risk of a Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Breastfed Infants Who are Not in the Sun - The amount of vitamin D in breast milk depends on the amount of vitamin D in the mother. However, breast-milk typically does not contain adequate amounts of vitamin D. Be sure infants get some exposure to the sun (at least 10-20 minutes) to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D.8
  • Older Adults - As skin ages it is less and less able to make vitamin D from the sun, so vitamin D has to be attained from foods or supplements.5
  • People With Little Sun Exposure on the Skin - Wearing sunscreen, or lots of clothing, hampers the creation of vitamin D from the sun.9,10
  • People with Darker Skin - Melanin, a pigment found in skin, reduces the body's ability to manufacture vitamin D from the sun.5
  • People who have Problems Absorbing Fat, or are on Extreme Low Fat Diets - Vitamin D is fat soluble, which means it is found in fats, and your body has to be able to digest fats in order for you to absorb the vitamin D.11
  • People Who are Obese, or People Who have Had Gastric Bypass Surgery - Excess fat in the body absorbs vitamin D, effectively reducing theamount available for body functions. Those who have undergone bypass surgery are missing part of their upper intestine which hampers Vitamin D absorption.5,13,14
  • People Taking Certain Medications
    • Steroid Corticosteroid medications used to alleviate inflammation can reduce calcium absorption and impair vitamin D metabolism.15-17
    • Weight-loss drugs with orlistat (brand names Xenical and alliTM) and cholesterol-lowering drugs cholestyramine (brand names Questran, LoCholest, and Prevalite) can reduce the absorption of vitamin D and other fat-soluble vitamins.18,19
    • Medicines used to control and stabalize epileptic seizures, particularly phenobarbital and phenytoin (brand name Dilantin) interferes with Vitamin D and reduces calcium absorption.20

What Fruits and Vegetables are High in Vitamin D?

Vegetables high in vitamin D include mushrooms which have been exposed to sunlight. Other vegan foods high in vitamin D include fortified soy products like tofu, soymilk, and soy yogurt, fortified cereals, and fortified juices.

Unfortunately, no fruits are high in vitamin D, and fortified orange juice is currently the only fruit product commonly sold with vitamin D.

Warnings

  • Consuming too much vitmain D from food or supplements can lead to anorexia, weight loss, polyuria, heart arrhythmias, kidney stones, andincreased risk of heart attacks.5 Vitamin D cannot reach toxic levels if created naturally from sun exposure.21
  • Oysters, Whole Milk, Salami, Cheese,Caviar, and Eggs are high cholesterol foods which should be eaten in moderate amounts and avoided by people at risk of heart disease or stroke.

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Data Sources and References

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.
  2. Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin D
  3. Heaney RP. Long-latency deficiency disease: insights from calcium and vitamin D. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:912-9.
  4. LeBoff MS, Kohlmeier L, Hurwitz S, Franklin J, Wright J, Glowacki J. Occult vitamin D deficiency in postmenopausal US women with acute hip fracture. JAMA 1999;251:1505-11.
  5. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.
  6. Davis CD. Vitamin D and cancer: current dilemmas and future research needs. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;88:565S-9S.
  7. Davis CD, Hartmuller V, Freedman M, Hartge P, Picciano MF, Swanson CA, Milner JA. Vitamin D and cancer: current dilemmas and future needs. Nutr Rev 2007;65:S71-S74.
  8. Wagner CL, Greer FR; American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Prevention of rickets and vitamin D deficiency in infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatrics 2008;122:1142-1152.
  9. Webb AR, Kline L, Holick MF. Influence of season and latitude on the cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D3: Exposure to winter sunlight in Boston and Edmonton will not promote vitamin D3 synthesis in human skin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1988;67:373-8.
  10. Webb AR, Pilbeam C, Hanafin N, Holick MF. An evaluation of the relative contributions of exposure to sunlight and of diet to the circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in an elderly nursing home population in Boston. Am J Clin Nutr 1990;51:1075-81.
  11. Lo CW, Paris PW, Clemens TL, Nolan J, Holick MF. Vitamin D absorption in healthy subjects and in patients with intestinal malabsorption syndromes. Am J Clin Nutr 1985;42:644-49.
  12. Malone M. Recommended nutritional supplements for bariatric surgery patients. Ann Pharmacother 2008;42:1851-8.
  13. Compher CW, Badellino KO, Boullata JI. Vitamin D and the bariatric surgical patient: a review. Obes Surg 2008;18:220-4.
  14. Buckley LM, Leib ES, Cartularo KS, Vacek PM, Cooper SM. Calcium and vitamin D3 supplementation prevents bone loss in the spine secondary to low-dose corticosteroids in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 1996;125:961-8.
  15. Lukert BP, Raisz LG. Glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis: pathogenesis and management. Ann Intern Med 1990;112:352-64.
  16. de Sevaux RGL, Hoitsma AJ, Corstens FHM, Wetzels JFM. Treatment with vitamin D and calcium reduces bone loss after renal transplantation: a randomized study. J Am Soc Nephrol 2002;13:1608-14.
  17. McDuffie JR, Calis KA, Booth SL, Uwaifo GI, Yanovski JA. Effects of orlistat on fat-soluble vitamins in obese adolescents. Pharmacotherapy 2002;22:814-22.
  18. Compston JE, Horton LW. Oral 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 in treatment of osteomalacia associated with ileal resection and cholestyramine therapy. Gastroenterology 1978;74:900-2.
  19. Gough H, Goggin T, Bissessar A, Baker M, Crowley M, Callaghan N. A comparative study of the relative influence of different anticonvulsant drugs, UV exposure and diet on vitamin D and calcium metabolism in outpatients with epilepsy. Q J Med 1986;59:569-77.
  20. Jones G. Pharmacokinetics of vitamin D toxicity. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;88:582S-6S.
  21. J. A. Ko, B. H. Lee, J. S. Lee and H. J. Park. Effect of UV-B Exposure on the Concentration of Vitamin D2 in Sliced Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinus edodes) and White Button Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus). J. Agric. Food Chem., 2008, 56 (10), pp 3671-3674DOI: 10.1021/jf073398s

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