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Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin D

Written by Daisy Whitbread, MScN
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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 (%DV) for vitamin D is 20μg (micrograms) and the toxicity threshold is thought to be 250 to 1000 μg/day. (2)

Sometimes vitamin D values are given in IU (International Units), 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 nutrient ranking of 200 foods high in vitamin D.

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List of High Vitamin D Foods

1Fish (Salmon)
Salmon

More Fish High in Vitamin D

-108% DV in 3oz of canned salmon
-95% DV in a 3oz rainbow trout fillet
-19% DV in 6oz tilapia fillet

See all fish high in vitamin D.
2Crimini Mushrooms (Exposed to UV Light)
Crimini mushrooms

More Mushrooms Exposed to Sunlight High in Vitamin D

-122% DV in 1 cup of portabellas
-98% DV in 1 cup of miatakes
-92% 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.
3Fortified Milk
A glass of milk
Buttermilk, whole milk, low-fat milk, and skim milk all provide around 30% DV per 16oz glass.

See all dairy foods high in vitamin D.
4Fortified Milk Substitutes (Soymilk)
A glass of soymilk with soybeans

Other Fortified Milk Substitutes High in Vitamin D

-26% DV per 16oz glass of almond milk
-24% DV per 16oz glass of rice milk
-24% DV per 16oz glass of coconut milk
5 Fortified Tofu
A block of tofu
6Fortified Yogurt
Plain yogurt with a raspberry
7Fortified Breakfast Cereal
A bowl of bran flakes
8Fortified Orange Juice
Note: A cup of orange juice contains up to 20 grams of sugar.
9Pork Chops
A pork chop

Other Pork Products High in Vitamin D

-11% DV per 3oz of spare ribs
-6% DV in 1 cup of lean ham
-5% DV in a bratwurst

See all meats high in vitamin D.
10Eggs
Eggs
-15% DV in 1 cup of chopped hard-boiled eggs.

See All 200 Foods High in Vitamin D

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A printable sheet of the top 10 foods highest in vitamin D.

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. (2)
  • 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. (2)
  • 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. (2)
  • 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.(2)
  • People Taking Certain Medications
    • Steroid Corticosteroid medications used to alleviate inflammation can reduce calcium absorption and impair vitamin D metabolism. (2)
    • Weight-loss drugs with orlista as well as cholesterol-lowering drugs with cholestyramine can reduce the absorption of vitamin D and other fat-soluble vitamins. (2)
    • Medicines used to treat epileptic seizures, particularly phenobarbital and phenytoin, interfere with Vitamin D and reduces calcium absorption. (2)

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. Vitamin D cannot reach toxic levels if created naturally from sun exposure. (2)

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View more food groups with the nutrient ranking tool, or see ratios with the nutrient ratio tool.

Data Sources and References

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.
  2. Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin D

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