Vitamin D, the “Sunshine Vitamin”, is a powerhouse nutrient. It supports a healthy immune system and studies show it may reduce the risk of respiratory infection and other viruses such as influenza. Because our bodies naturally convert sunlight to vitamin D, the primary cause of vitamin D deficiency is underexposure to sunshine. The National Institute of Health recommends getting approximately 600-800 IU (International Units) of vitamin D per day, whether it’s from sunlight, vitamin D rich foods or supplements. Here are the best ones to add to your diet.
Fatty fish and seafood
- Fatty fish and seafood are some of the richest natural food sources of Vitamin D and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- One 3.5 oz (100 g) serving of canned salmon can provide 386 IU of vitamin D, about 50% of the recommended daily intake.
- Other fish/seafood rich in vitamin D include tuna, mackerel, oysters, shrimps, sardines, and anchovies.
- Mushrooms exposed to sunlight or UV are a great natural, plant-based source of vitamin D.
- Mushrooms make their own vitamin D after being exposed to UV light, so some wild mushrooms will have a higher vitamin D content.
- Wild Maitake mushrooms may provide as much as 2,348 IU per 3.5 oz (100 g) serving.
- Egg yolks are vitamin D rich and easy to add to your diet, although like other natural food sources, they vary in vitamin D content.
- Conventionally raised chickens that don’t have access to the outdoors typically only produce eggs harboring 2–5% of the recommended daily intake.
- Some research indicates that eggs from pasture-raised or free-range chickens offer up to 4 times more — or up to 120-160 IU (20% of the recommended daily intake).
- Because there are only a limited number of natural sources of vitamin D, fortified foods are a good option, especially for those who might be vegan or vegetarian. These include:
- Dairy milk: 115–130 IU per cup (237 ml)
- Soy milk: 107–117 IU per cup
- Orange juice: 100 IU per cup
- Cereals: 54–136 IU per half cup (78 g)
- Yogurt: 127 IU per cup
- Tofu: 100 IU for 3.5 oz (100 g)
Vitamin D supplements
- If your vitamin D levels are low and you want a quick and easy way to boost them, supplements may be a good option for you.
- Vitamin D has two forms — D2 and D3. D2 typically comes from plants and D3 from animals.
- Aim for supplement dosages around 1,000-4,000 IU.
Even if you’re adding some of these to your diet, it’s important to try and soak up some sun at least once a day, either in your backyard or on a daily walk, and remember to protect your skin from UV ray and free radical damage with SPF and vitamin C serum. Vitamin D will help your body keep its energy levels up, build strong bones, and even fight disease.