Vitamin D: Health Benefits, Sources, Dosage
According to the National Academy of Sciences, as many as 75% of Americans are lacking in vitamin D. While vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is essential for optimal health, as it helps your body to absorb calcium and maintain adequate serum magnesium and phosphate concentrations — three nutrients important for your teeth, muscles, and bones. It also plays crucial roles in brain development, heart function, your immune system, and mental health.
Low vitamin D levels are widespread worldwide (more than 50% of worldwide population are lacing this vitamin). Symptoms of deficiency include fatigue, muscle pain, weak bones, and even depression.
Why is this?
Well, it’s true that the sun is an amazing resource in vitamin D production, nevertheless it’s not a fail-safe option, either—factors like urban dwelling, office jobs, the changing seasons, and even sunscreen can all get in the way of reaching your optimal vitamin D levels.
That’s why it’s a good idea to become better-versed on all the other ways you can get enough vitamin D: like via certain foods, in addition to certain supplements to help fill the gaps. Here I would like to share with you a a list of the top 10 foods highest in vitamin D (they may surprise you) and give some recommendations of how to choose the right D3 supplements.
To maintain adequate levels, children under 12 months should get 400 IU (10 mcg) of vitamin D daily, while children 1–13 years old should get 600 IU (15 mcg) daily. Adults and pregnant or nursing women should aim for 600 and 800 IU (15 and 20 mcg) per day, respectively.
High vitamin D foods:
- Salmon, cooked, 80 g (447 IUs Vitamin D per serving)
- Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon (1360 IUs Vitamin D per serving)
- Swordfish, cooked, 80 g (566 IUs Vitamin D per serving)
- Tuna, canned in water, drained, 80 g (154 IUs Vitamin D per serving)
- Egg yolk 1 large (41 IUs Vitamin D per serving)
- Cow's milk, 240 ml (up to 120 IUs of Vitamin D)
- Nondairy beverages. Plant milks like soy, rice, hemp, oat, or almond milk - plus orange juice - are often fortified with similar amounts of vitamin D as cow's milk. They may provide up to 100 IUs of vitamin D per 1 cup (240 ml).
- Yogurt. Some dairy and nondairy yogurts are fortified in vitamin D, giving around 52 IUs of this vitamin per 100 g.
- Tofu and Swiss cheese (around 100 IU per 100 g)
- Hot and cold cereals. Oatmeal and ready-to-eat cereals are often fortified with vitamin D, with 1/2 cup (120 grams) providing up to 120 IUs, depending on the variety.
And sun (of course!) – the best natural D booster! Spending time in the sunshine is a great way to boost your vitamin D levels (and your energy!)
Remember, that vitamin D is fat soluble, which means you need to eat fat to absorb it.
If you're concerned you may not be getting enough vitamin D from your diet, supplements can act as a reliable and consistent source. These come in two forms:
Vitamin D2: typically harvested from yeast or mushrooms exposed to UV rays
Vitamin D3: usually derived from fish oil or sheep's wool.
Keep in mind that the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) is 400–800 IU, depending on factors like age and deficiency. Exceeding this dosage for extended periods is not recommended, as it may cause toxicity.
Hope this information will be useful for you! You may also print out a one-page short guide of Vitamin D rich foods below.
Enjoy the weekend!