Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin D + Infographic

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 for vitamin D is 600 IU (international units) and the toxicity threshold is thought to be 10,000 to 40,000 IU/day.2

Sometimes vitamin D values are given in micrograms (mcg,μg), 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 tofu, fortified yogurt, fortified milk, fortified milk substitutes, 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 extended list of foods rich in vitamin D.

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List of High Vitamin D Foods

Salmon1. Fish (Salmon)
6oz fillet (170g)200 calories (170g)100g
189% DV (1136IU)189% DV (1136IU)111% DV (668IU)

Other fish high in vitamin D (%DV per 6oz serving)

Canned Salmon (238%), Rainbow Trout (216%), Swordfish (188%), Whitefish (146%), Mackerel (130%), Canned Tuna (76%), Halibut (66%), Herring (62%), Rockfish (52%), and Talapia (40%).
Complete Nutrition Facts.
Crimini mushrooms2. Crimini Mushrooms (Exposed to UV Light)
1 cup (87g)200 calories (909g)100g
185% DV (1110IU)1933% DV (11600IU)213% DV (1276IU)

Other mushrooms exposed to Sunlight High in Vitamin D (%DV per cup)

White Button (168%), Portabella (163%), Maitake (131%), Chanterelle (19%), and Morel (22%).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.
Complete Nutrition Facts.
A block of tofu3. Fortified Tofu
1 cup (226g)200 calories (217g)100g
38% DV (226IU)36% DV (217IU)17% DV (100IU)
Plain yogurt with a raspberry4. Fortified Yogurt
1 cup (245g)200 calories (202g)100g
21% DV (127IU)18% DV (105IU)9% DV (52IU)
A glass of milk5. Fortified Milk
1 cup (244g)200 calories (328g)100g
21% DV (127IU)28% DV (170IU)9% DV (52IU)
Buttermilk, whole milk, low-fat milk, and skim milk all provide around 20% DV per 8oz cup.
Complete Nutrition Facts.
A glass of soymilk with soybeans6. Fortified Milk Substitutes (Soymilk)
1 cup (243g)200 calories (606g)100g
19% DV (117IU)48% DV (291IU)8% DV (48IU)

Other Fortified Milk Substitutes High in Vitamin D (%DV per cup)

Almond milk (18%), Rice milk (16%), and Coconut milk (16%).
Complete Nutrition Facts.
Cereal7. Fortified Breakfast Cereal
3/4 cup (30g)200 calories (63g)100g
17% DV (100IU)35% DV (208IU)55% DV (332IU)
A glass of orange juice8. Fortified Orange Juice
1 cup (249g)200 calories (426g)100g
17% DV (100IU)28% DV (170IU)7% DV (40IU)
Note: A cup of orange juice contains up to 20grams of sugar.
Complete Nutrition Facts.
A pork chop9. Pork Chops
1 chop (206g)200 calories (78g)100g
14% DV (82IU)5% DV (31IU)7% DV (40IU)

Other Pork Products High in Vitamin D (%DV per 3oz)

Spare Ribs (15%), Lean Ham (12%), Shoulder Roast (9%), and Italian Sausage (6%).
Complete Nutrition Facts.
Whole eggs10. Eggs
1 large (50g)200 calories (129g)100g
7% DV (44IU)19% DV (114IU)15% DV (88IU)
1 cup of chopped hard-boiled eggs provides 20% DV.
Eggs are also a high protein food.
Complete Nutrition Facts.
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Vitamin D is an essential vitamin required by the body for the absorption of calcium, bone development, immune functioning, and alleviation of inflammation. Foods high in vitamin D include fish, mushrooms exposed to sunlight, fortified tofu, fortified yogurt, fortified milk, fortified milk substitutes, 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.
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Click each heading below for more information from HealthAliciousNess.com

#1 Eel317% DV (1901IU) in 1 fillet (204g)169% DV (1013IU) in 200 calories (109g)
#2 Cod Liver Oil75% DV (450IU) in 1 tsp (5g)370% DV (2217IU) in 200 calories (22g)
#3 Queso Fresco22% DV (132IU) in 1 cup (122g)12% DV (72IU) in 200 calories (67g)
#4 Fortified American Cheese14% DV (85IU) in 1oz slice (28g)27% DV (164IU) in 200 calories (55g)
#5 Fish Roe11% DV (68IU) in 1 tblsp (14g)113% DV (677IU) in 200 calories (140g)
#6 Lean Ham4% DV (26IU) in 1oz slice (28g)26% DV (153IU) in 200 calories (167g)
#7 Beef Short Ribs4% DV (24IU) in 3oz (85g)2% DV (12IU) in 200 calories (42g)
#8 Caviar3% DV (19IU) in 1 tblsp (16g)15% DV (88IU) in 200 calories (76g)
#9 Lean Beef Roast2% DV (14IU) in 3oz (85g)2% DV (10IU) in 200 calories (60g)
#10 Turkey2% DV (14IU) in 3oz (85g)3% DV (17IU) in 200 calories (106g)
#11 Chicken1% DV (7IU) in 3oz (85g)1% DV (8IU) in 200 calories (102g)

  • 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 at least some exposure to the sun (at least 10-20 minutes) to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D.8
  • 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 fromfoods 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.9,10
  • 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, andyour body has to be able to digest fats in order for you to absorb the vitamin D.11
  • 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.5,13,14
  • People Taking Certain Medications
    • Steroid Corticosteroid medications used to alleviate inflammation can reduce calcium absorption and impair vitamin Dmetabolism.15-17
    • Weight-loss drugs with orlistat (brand names Xenical and alliTM) and cholesterol-lowering drugs cholestyramine (brand names Questran, LoCholest, and Prevalite) can reduce the absorption of vitamin D and other fat-soluble vitamins.18,19
    • Medicines used to control and stabalize epileptic seizures, particularly phenobarbital and phenytoin (brand name Dilantin) interferes with Vitamin D and reduces Calcium absorption.20

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.

  • 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.5 Vitamin D cannot reach toxic levels if created naturally from sun exposure.21
  • Oysters, Whole Milk, Salami, Cheese,Caviar, and Eggs are high cholesterol foods which should be eaten in moderate amounts and avoided by people at risk of heart disease or stroke.

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Data Sources and References

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.
  2. Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin D
  3. Heaney RP. Long-latency deficiency disease: insights from calcium and vitamin D. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:912-9.
  4. LeBoff MS, Kohlmeier L, Hurwitz S, Franklin J, Wright J, Glowacki J. Occult vitamin D deficiency in postmenopausal US women with acute hip fracture. JAMA 1999;251:1505-11.
  5. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.
  6. Davis CD. Vitamin D and cancer: current dilemmas and future research needs. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;88:565S-9S.
  7. Davis CD, Hartmuller V, Freedman M, Hartge P, Picciano MF, Swanson CA, Milner JA. Vitamin D and cancer: current dilemmas and future needs. Nutr Rev 2007;65:S71-S74.
  8. Wagner CL, Greer FR; American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Prevention of rickets and vitamin D deficiency in infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatrics 2008;122:1142-1152.
  9. Webb AR, Kline L, Holick MF. Influence of season and latitude on the cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D3: Exposure to winter sunlight in Boston and Edmonton will not promote vitamin D3 synthesis in human skin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1988;67:373-8.
  10. Webb AR, Pilbeam C, Hanafin N, Holick MF. An evaluation of the relative contributions of exposure to sunlight and of diet to the circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in an elderly nursing home population in Boston. Am J Clin Nutr 1990;51:1075-81.
  11. Lo CW, Paris PW, Clemens TL, Nolan J, Holick MF. Vitamin D absorption in healthy subjects and in patients with intestinal malabsorption syndromes. Am J Clin Nutr 1985;42:644-49.
  12. Malone M. Recommended nutritional supplements for bariatric surgery patients. Ann Pharmacother 2008;42:1851-8.
  13. Compher CW, Badellino KO, Boullata JI. Vitamin D and the bariatric surgical patient: a review. Obes Surg 2008;18:220-4.
  14. Buckley LM, Leib ES, Cartularo KS, Vacek PM, Cooper SM. Calcium and vitamin D3 supplementation prevents bone loss in the spine secondary to low-dose corticosteroids in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 1996;125:961-8.
  15. Lukert BP, Raisz LG. Glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis: pathogenesis and management. Ann Intern Med 1990;112:352-64.
  16. de Sevaux RGL, Hoitsma AJ, Corstens FHM, Wetzels JFM. Treatment with vitamin D and calcium reduces bone loss after renal transplantation: a randomized study. J Am Soc Nephrol 2002;13:1608-14.
  17. McDuffie JR, Calis KA, Booth SL, Uwaifo GI, Yanovski JA. Effects of orlistat on fat-soluble vitamins in obese adolescents. Pharmacotherapy 2002;22:814-22.
  18. Compston JE, Horton LW. Oral 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 in treatment of osteomalacia associated with ileal resection and cholestyramine therapy. Gastroenterology 1978;74:900-2.
  19. Gough H, Goggin T, Bissessar A, Baker M, Crowley M, Callaghan N. A comparative study of the relative influence of different anticonvulsant drugs, UV exposure and diet on vitamin D and calcium metabolism in outpatients with epilepsy. Q J Med 1986;59:569-77.
  20. Jones G. Pharmacokinetics of vitamin D toxicity. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;88:582S-6S.
  21. J. A. Ko, B. H. Lee, J. S. Lee and H. J. Park. Effect of UV-B Exposure on the Concentration of Vitamin D2 in Sliced Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinus edodes) and White Button Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus). J. Agric. Food Chem., 2008, 56 (10), pp 3671-3674DOI: 10.1021/jf073398s