Vitamin D is unique in that it is the only nutrient that your body produces on its own when exposed to sunlight. Just because your body can create it, however, does not mean that you’re getting enough of this essential vitamin! Up to 50% of people in the world don’t get enough sun exposure. It’s estimated about 40% of people in the US are deficient in vitamin D.
Your daily intake of vitamin D should be at least 600 IU. If you live somewhere where you don’t get enough sunlight, however, your intake should be 1,000 IU. To determine the vitamin D intake you should target, it’s best to consult with your physician. If you’re realizing you should be incorporating more vitamin D into your diet, the following foods are terrific sources of this important nutrient.
Not only is salmon delicious and rich in healthy fats, but it is a great source of vitamin D. In fact, one 100-gram serving of salmon contains between 361 and 685 IU of vitamin D. However, there is a big difference between whether the salmon was wild or farmed. Wild salmon has between 988 and 1,300 IU of vitamin D per serving! Farmed salmon only has 25% of the amount of vitamin D as wild-caught salmon. Farmed salmon is still a healthy option, as it provides 42% of your suggested daily intake.
Many people enjoy canned tuna. The fish is tasty, easy to store, and cheaper than purchasing fresh fish. A 100-gram serving of canned tuna contains 269 IU of vitamin D, which is almost half of the RDI! As a bonus, tuna is an excellent source of niacin and vitamin K.
If you don’t enjoy seafood, there are other options. Eggs are another great source of vitamin D. Although most of the egg’s protein is in the white, most of the vitamins and minerals are found in the yolk.
For the most vitamin-D rich eggs, choose eggs from pasture-raised chickens instead of chickens raised indoors. Chickens who spent time outside in the sunlight produce eggs with levels of vitamin D that are three to four times higher than eggs from those that were raised inside.
Mushrooms are the only non-fortified plant source of vitamin D. Mushrooms produce vitamin D2, which is different from D3; the type of vitamin D that animals provide. Wild mushrooms contain the most vitamin D2, and some even include 2,300 IU per serving. Commercially grown mushrooms only contain significant amounts of vitamin D if they are treated with UV light.