- White beans
- Some fish, like sardines, salmon, perch, and rainbow trout
- Foods that are calcium-fortified, such as some orange juice, oatmeal, and breakfast cereal
Foods That Provide Vitamin D Include:
- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
To get vitamin D from food, fish is a good option. Three ounces of cooked salmon has about 570 international units (IU).
How Much Do You Need?
Here’s how much calcium and vitamin D you need every day, according to the Institute of Medicine.
- Children 1-3 years old: 700 milligrams (mg)
- Children 4-8 years old: 1,000 mg
- Children 9-18 years old: 1,300 mg
- Adults 19-50: 1,000 mg
- Women 51 to 70: 1,200 mg
- Men 51 to 70: 1,000 mg
- Women and men 71 and over: 1,200 mg
- Age 1-70: 600 IU
- Age 71 and older: 800 IU
Your doctor may recommend higher levels of calcium and vitamin D, especially if you aren’t getting enough of them or are at risk for osteoporosis.
What Are Some Dietary Sources Of Vitamin D And Calcium?
Fish is the best nutritional source of vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish, such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon, are rich in vitamin D. Just 3 ounces of cooked salmon provides nearly 450 International units (IU) of vitamin D. Cod liver oil is another popular source of vitamin D and can provide about 1,360 IU of vitamin D.
Oily fish, as well as oils from fish, have some of the highest quantities of vitamin D in food sources.
These May Include:
- Cod liver oil: This contains 450 international units (IU) per teaspoon, which is 75 percent of a person’s recommended daily allowance (RDA).
- Herring: This contains 306 IU per fillet, dry-cooked, which is 51 percent of a person’s RDA.
- Swordfish: This contains 706 IU per piece, dry-cooked, which is 117 percent of a person’s RDA.
Milk And Dairy Products
Milk and dairy products, such as cheese (particularly ricotta cheese) and yogurt, are rich in both vitamin D and calcium. However, dairy products also tend to be high in fat, so they should be used in moderation as part of a balanced diet to prevent unnecessary weight gain.
Per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a large egg, weighing approximately 50 g, contains approximately 50 IU of vitamin D3, with the largest concentration of calcium in the yolk. Including whole eggs in one’s diet can help increase vitamin D intake.
Egg yolks can also be high in vitamin D, especially if the chickens are free-range. For example, a dish of scrambled eggs using two large hen eggs contains 88 IU, which is 15 percent of a person’s RDA.
Manufacturers add vitamin D to many commercially available foods. People describe these foods as being fortified with vitamin D, or other nutrients.
Common foods with extra vitamin D and other nutrients include:
- cow’s milk
- orange juice
- various breakfast cereals
Cultivated mushrooms contain the plant sterol ergosterol, which is a vitamin D precursor. When mushrooms are exposed to sunlight; they naturally produce vitamin D.
If a person does not like fish, or if they are vegetarian or vegan, specific mushrooms may be an option. Some types of mushroom contain high amounts of vitamin D.
- Raw maitake mushrooms: These contain 562 IU per 50 grams (g), which is 94 percent of a person’s RDA.
- Dried shiitake mushrooms: These contain 77 IU per 50 g, which is 12 percent of a person’s RDA.
Mushrooms with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light can also contain large amounts of vitamin D. These may include:
- UV-exposed raw Portobello mushrooms: These contain 568IU per 50g, which is 95 percent of a person’s RDA.
- UV-exposed raw white mushrooms: These contain 523IU per 50g, which is 87 percent of a person’s RDA.
Dark green vegetables like kale, spinach, okra, and collards are rich in calcium. These vegetables are an important component of vegan diets, which do not include animal-based foods.
Dietary intakes of vitamin D and calcium are necessary to promote bone health and prevent bone disease. These few natural foods are rich in vitamin D and calcium. Fortification of food with vitamin D and calcium is a safe and effective way to ensure that most people living in the United States and the United Kingdom reach their recommended daily intake levels.
Recent news that vitamin D could offer protection against autoimmune diseases is to be welcomed. It adds clarity to an issue that has confounded researchers for decades, and it adds weight to calls for routine vitamin D supplementation for everyone in Northern latitudes.
Vitamin D is created when sunlight hits the skin, but short days, cool climates, and spending most of the time indoors means that as many as 40% of Europeans have a deficiency, which may be severe in 13% of cases.
Dr. Gareth Nye, a lecturer in physiology at the University of Chester, explained to Medical News Today:
“Most of us are deficient between October and April, at best, and many of us will have low levels throughout the year, which is why the recommendation that all pregnant women should take a supplement of 10 [micrograms (mcg)] or 400 [international units (IU)] of vitamin D per day throughout pregnancy is sensible and cost effective.”
“Low levels of vitamin D leave children prone to a condition called rickets, where the bones do not develop correctly,” he explained, adding that “Most formula milks have vitamin D supplementation included. However, with breastfeeding, all the source has to come from the mother.”
There is some evidence that people who breastfeed are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency than the rest of the population.
A subanalysis of a German study into vitamin levels found that breastfeeding women were more likely to have vitamin D deficiencies than other women, and that these deficiencies likely arose during pregnancy. This means that the levels of vitamin D in their breast milk are also likely to be low, putting their babies at risk of deficiencies.
Considering that vitamin D supplementation is advisable during pregnancy and at other times of life, one could be forgiven for thinking that supplementation during breastfeeding would not be particularly controversial. One would, however, be wrong.
While the American Association of Pediatrics suggested that all children receive supplements of 200 IU of vitamin D a day in 2003 and raised this to 400 IU a day in 2008, uptake has been low.
One reason is that some breastfeeding advocates have argued that supplementing breastfed babies undermines breastfeeding.
The implication that breast milk does not provide sufficient nutrition for babies has been documented by UNICEF as a technique used by companies to push breast milk substitutes inappropriately. This is at the root of the controversy.
Meanwhile, low participation in childhood supplementation has led to the question of whether maternal supplementation could fill the gap. Various studies have shown that maternal supplementation does increase the vitamin D levels in breast milk high enough to prevent deficiencies in children.
However, questions remain about whether 400 IU a day is enough. Both of those studies included dosages of at least 6,000 IU (150 mcg) a day.
For breastfed babies, guidelines still recommend vitamin D supplementation for the first 6 months of life, at which point the introduction of solid food should introduce other sources of vitamin D. Breastfeeding people should continue to take vitamin D supplements according to existing guidelines.
Dr. Nye said: “Once the child is eating other forms of food, like yogurts, cow’s milk and eggs, they are getting the vitamin D themselves. So supplementation is only advised for as long as breastfeeding is the sole source of food.”
Vitamin D is a type of nutrient that the body produces when a person’s skin has exposure to direct sunlight. People can also consume vitamin D, but it is not naturally present in many foods. High quantities of vitamin D are present in oily fish and certain types of mushrooms.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplement, the key benefit of vitamin D is that it helps keep a person’s bones, muscles, and nerves healthy. It also contributes to a healthy immune system.
It is present in egg yolks if the chickens laying them are free-range. Some mushrooms also contain vitamin D.
However, no other plant-based foods produce vitamin D. For people whose diets are mostly vegetarian or vegan, and for people who do not or cannot spend a lot of time outdoors, it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D.
If a person has concerns that they are not getting enough vitamin D from direct sunlight, consuming the following foods will help increase the overall amount they have in their bodies.
According to the ODS if a person does not have enough vitamin D in their diet, they are at risk of developing weak bones. Symptoms of this might include pain in a person’s bones or weakness in their muscles. These symptoms can be subtle initially.
There is some research to suggest that vitamin D may contribute to other health benefits, such as:
- resistance to some cancers
- cardiovascular diseases
- multiple sclerosis
However, according to the ODS, there is not yet enough evidence to know whether this is the case. Existing research has yielded mixed results.
The RDA of vitamin D for all people aged 1–70 is 600 IU. For children below the age of 1, it is 400 IU, and for adults over 70, it is 800 IU. This assumes that a person has the minimum amount of direct sun exposure.
The general assumption is that a person who spends some time outside a few times per week will produce sufficient vitamin D. However, according to the ODS, this can vary considerably depending on:
- time of day
- the presence of cloud cover or smog
- the color of a person’s skin
- whether a person is wearing sunscreen
Being in direct sunlight behind a window will not aid vitamin D production because glass cuts out the radiation that produces vitamin D.