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10 Nutrient-Rich Foods to Boost Your Vitamin D Intake

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Are you giving your body enough vitamin D? This essential nutrient plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy cells, strengthening your immune system, and aiding in calcium absorption for strong bones. Not only does it help prevent bone diseases in children, but it also acts as a protective shield against osteoporosis in older adults, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Recognizing its numerous benefits, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made it mandatory for food manufacturers to include vitamin D on nutrition labels in 2018.

Let the Sunshine Vitamin Shine in Your Diet

Vitamin D is primarily produced in your body when your skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D for most adults is 600 international units (IU), equivalent to 15 micrograms (mcg), as recommended by the NIH. However, individuals above the age of 80 should aim for 800 IU (20 mcg).

Unfortunately, most people fail to obtain sufficient vitamin D from sunlight alone, and food sources of the nutrient are limited, says Lori Zanini, RD, a renowned dietitian based in Los Angeles. Data from the 2013-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reveals that the average daily intake of vitamin D from diet alone was a mere 204 IU for men and 168 IU for women. Even if you consume whole milk fortified with vitamin D (which contains slightly more than reduced-fat or skim milk), an 8-ounce serving provides just 95.6 IU of vitamin D, as per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) — a mere fraction of your daily requirement. It’s no surprise that approximately 24 percent of Americans have been reported to have vitamin D deficiencies, as published in Nature in January 2020. A deficiency is defined as having less than 20 nanograms per milliliter of the nutrient in your blood, according to the NIH. Increased risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include being nonwhite, obese, or having limited sun exposure. For confirmation, consult your healthcare provider who can conduct a blood test.

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Unlocking the Key to Adequate Vitamin D Intake

To ensure you meet your vitamin D needs, it is essential to explore natural sources, such as safe sun exposure and, when possible, through your diet. However, if your healthcare provider identifies a deficiency, supplements may be recommended. There are two main types of vitamin D supplements: vitamin D2 and D3. Zanini recommends vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which is derived from animal sources and has been shown to be more effective in elevating and sustaining vitamin D levels. For those following a plant-based diet, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) supplements may be preferred. These are manufactured through UV irradiation of ergosterol in yeast, according to the NIH.

Recent research suggests that if you are not deficient, taking a vitamin D supplement is unlikely to improve your bone health. A study published on July 28, 2022, in the New England Journal of Medicine investigated the effects of 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 supplements versus a placebo in over 25,000 healthy volunteers aged 50 and above. The aim was to determine whether the supplements would reduce the risk of bone fractures over a five-year period. The study found no significant difference compared to those taking the placebo.

Nourish Your Body with Vitamin D-Rich Foods

Given the limited natural sources of vitamin D, it is crucial to incorporate foods that are naturally high in the nutrient into your diet. Additionally, consider consuming foods fortified with vitamin D. According to Zanini, “Getting vitamin D from food should be a priority.” Here are ten foods that can help you meet your vitamin D requirements:

  1. Fatty Fish: Including salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines, these fish are not only delicious but also excellent sources of vitamin D.
    Fatty Fish

  2. Cod Liver Oil: This oil is highly concentrated with vitamin D and can be consumed as a supplement or added to your meals.
    Cod Liver Oil

  3. Canned Tuna: An affordable and convenient option, canned tuna can be easily incorporated into salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes.
    Canned Tuna

  4. Egg Yolks: While egg whites contain minimal amounts of vitamin D, the yolks are a valuable source of this nutrient.
    Egg Yolks

  5. Mushrooms: Certain types of mushrooms, such as shiitake and maitake, can provide a natural boost of vitamin D.

  6. Fortified Milk: Look for milk that has been fortified with vitamin D to ensure it becomes a part of your daily intake.
    Fortified Milk

  7. Yogurt: Besides being rich in probiotics, some yogurts are also fortified with vitamin D.

  8. Cheese: Certain varieties of cheese, including cheddar and Swiss, can contribute to your vitamin D intake.

  9. Beef Liver: Although it may not be a popular choice, beef liver is packed with essential nutrients, including vitamin D.
    Beef Liver

  10. Orange Juice: Opt for orange juice that is fortified with vitamin D to complement your breakfast routine.
    Orange Juice

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Remember, maintaining adequate vitamin D levels is crucial for overall health and well-being. Incorporating these foods into your diet can help ensure you meet your recommended daily intake. For further guidance on nutrition and vitamin D supplementation, consult a healthcare professional. To learn more about Ratingperson and their commitment to providing valuable information, visit their website here.


Now that you are aware of the importance of vitamin D and its impact on your health, it’s time to take action. Embrace the power of natural sunlight and enhance your diet with vitamin D-rich foods. By doing so, you can unlock the potential benefits of this essential nutrient and promote your overall well-being. Remember, your health is in your hands, and Ratingperson is here to guide you every step of the way.

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