7 ways to incorporate more vitamin D into your diet

Some foods are packed with vitamin D.

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Some foods are packed with vitamin D.
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Shutterstock

  • Most Americans are deficient in vitamin D.
  • 100 grams of wild salmon can provide your daily recommended vitamin D intake.
  • Vitamin D is necessary to boost overall health.

Are you getting enough vitamin D? Probably not.

According to a report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 77% of Americans have a deficiency in vitamin D levels.

“Vitamin D deficiencies can contribute to a number of diseases including: osteoporosis, depression, cold and flu, Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, cancers, gastrointestinal diseases and diabetes,” says New York City-based registered nurse Rebecca Park. “It is important to make sure you are getting adequate amounts of vitamin D all year long, especially during the long winter months when sunlight is not as prevalent.”

Humans typically receive vitamin D from spending time in sunlight (yes, even with sunscreen), but during the colder months, consciously upping your vitamin D intake via supplements or food is essential — talk to your doctor or a dietitian to find the best method and amount for your personal overall health, but know that 600 IU (international units) is the quantity to aim for daily.

“According to the National Institute of Health, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 IU per day,” Park says. “Most people get far less than this on a daily basis.”

Add these foods rich in vitamin D to your diet to help boost your vitamin D levels.


Wild salmon has more Vitamin D than farmed salmon.

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Wild salmon has 500-1000 IU of Vitamin D.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty

“One study found that 100 grams of wild-caught salmon had 500-1000 IU vitamin D, while farmed salmon (the most widely consumed fish in the US) contained only 100-250 IU per 100 grams,” Park said.


Small wild fish also have lots of vitamin D.

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Small wild fish have lots of vitamin D3.
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Thomson Reuters

“Fatty, cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies are a wonderful source of vitamin D3, the most bioavailable form of vitamin D,” says said nutritionist. Mikka Knapp, RDN, LDN, CLT.


Cod liver oil has 75% of your recommended daily intake.

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Cod liver oil also has vitamin A and E.
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PhotoAllel/ iStock

If you’re not going to eat small fish, Knapp recommends cod liver oil. “One teaspoon has about 450 IU, 75% of the recommended daily allowance,” she said. “Cod liver oil is also high in other fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and E. Because of the concern of heavy metals in seafood, I recommend choosing an oil that has been tested for contaminants.”


Free-range and pasture raised eggs have more vitamin D than regular eggs.

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Eggs from chickens exposed to sunlight have more vitamin D.
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BlacKCatPRO/Shutterstock

“Eggs yolks are another good source of highly absorbable vitamin D,” Knapp said. “Choose free-range or pasture-raised eggs as they have three-four times more vitamin D than conventional eggs because the chickens have greater exposure to sunlight. On average, yolks from indoor eggs only contain about 152 IU per 100 grams versus 572 IU per 100 g from outdoor eggs.”


Beverages fortified with vitamin D.

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Plant milk and cow’s milk are both natural sources of vitamin D.
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S_E/Shutterstock

“Fortified plant milk or cow’s milk is one of the most common ways to get vitamin D through food, since we usually drink this on a daily basis,” said nutritionist Katey Davidson, MScFN, RD. “Plus, soy milk and cow’s milk are both great sources of protein.”

Several types of orange juice are also fortified with vitamin D and calcium.


Mushrooms, specifically shiitake mushrooms, have lots of health benefits.

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Shiitake mushrooms have vitamin D and boost immune systems.
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Sean Gallup/ Getty Images

“Mushrooms are rich in ergosterol (a Vitamin D precursor) which converts to provitamin D2. The enzymes in our body then convert this into the active form of Vitamin D, ” explained triple-board-certified physician Monisha Bhanote, MD, FASCP, FCAP.

“Shiitake mushrooms are a vegan and vegetarian-friendly source of Vitamin D. So not only are they a source of Vitamin D, but they also boost the immune system, improve gut immunity, contain antimicrobial effects, support cardiovascular health, and promote brain function.”


Yogurt has 20% of the recommended daily value.

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Yogurt can be breakfast or snacks.
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Shutterstock

“Fortified, low sugar yogurts can provide 20 % of the recommended daily value for Vitamin D,” said Alison Acerra, MS, RD. “They are widely accessible and a good source of protein, making yogurt a great addition to breakfast and snacks.”

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