1. Sardines from The Most Surprising Sources of Vitamin D

The Most Surprising Sources of Vitamin D

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1. Sardines

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Just 3 oz. of sardines are enough for your daily dose of vitamin D. They are the best substitute for the much more expensive superfood – salmon, Maria Bohland, a registered dietician and founder of DietAustin.com, says. Add tomato sauce for some fiber and vitamins. This easy meal contains 427 IU or 107 percent of your DV (daily value) of vitamin D. Sardines are rich on omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce the risk of stroke. If you’re worried about mercury in your fish, sardines are known to have low levels of it.

2. Salmon

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Fatty fish is the best place to find naturally occurring vitamin D in foods. Salmon is a good choice. Canned salmon, which you can find anytime of the year, is a good supplement. Vitamin D in these foods is primarily in the form of vitamin D3. One serving of cooked salmon (sockeye), about 3 ounces, has 447 IUs, which is 112 percent of DV.

3. Canned tuna

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Canned tuna is probably the least expensive fish you can find in stores. It’s also a fairly good source of Vitamin D. Of all different kinds of canned tuna, the light tuna is the best choice. A serving of 3 ounces has 154 IUs, which is about 40 percent of DV.

4. Mushrooms

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“Many people don’t know that mushrooms are a surprisingly good source of Vitamin D,” Bohland says. Some have been exposed to ultraviolet light to increase vitamin D. Add a few slices to your salad or sauté them as a delicious side. A cup of chanterelle, morel, shiitake or Portobello provides about 400 IUs, or 65 percent of DV.

5. Dairy products

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Vitamin D absorbs calcium which makes your bones stronger. The best source of calcium is milk, so it’s not a surprise that it has been fortified (processed) with vitamin D. An 8-ounce cup of milk has about 200 IUs, which is 20 percent of your daily value. Whole milk has more of the vitamin but the reduced fat options will do. Other dairy products like butter and yogurt also contain vitamin D – about 20 per 100 grams (3.5 ounces).

6. Some orange juices

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Because many people are lactose intolerant, they tend to avoid milk. For them, orange juice to the rescue. It has been fortified with vitamin D, and calcium, and can serve as a good alternative, Bohland says. “Anything that has been fortified with vitamin D is great, if you don’t eat fatty fish, drink milk or don’t take supplements.” One glass – 249 grams or 8.7 ounces – contains 142IUs, which is 35 percent of DV. Not all brands are fortified so make sure you read the label carefully.

7. Cereal

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This is another food item whose label you have to check for “fortified with vitamin D.” Not all cereals are created equal. About 100 grams (3 ounces) of whole grain fortified cereal has 333 IUs, or 56 percent DV. Add some milk to increase your vitamin D intake even more in just one meal.

8. Egg yolks

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If you’re dieting and have been advised to eat egg-white omelets, reconsider. The yolk is actually the better and healthier part of the egg. Among other important nutrients, it’s also where vitamin D is found, Bohland says. Just one raw, fresh yolk has about 30 IUs, which is 7 percent of DV. Make an omelet and you can easily ingest more than a tenth of the D you need in a day.

9. Cod liver oil

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This is perhaps the single best food source of vitamin D out there. It is commonly taken as a dietary supplement. A single teaspoon — 4 grams — contains 450 IUs, which is 113 percent of DV. In addition to providing you with all the vitamin D you need, cod liver oil has been known to help relieve joint stiffness, benefit heart health, and help repair wounded nails and skin.

The problem with the supplement, Bohland adds, is that it also has a lot of vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin the body doesn’t get rid of quickly, causing it to stay in your fat cells. “It almost sticks to your blood,” she adds.

10. Beef liver

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Cooked beef liver may not be the most delicious source of vitamin D, but it’s still a natural source nevertheless. About 3 ounces have 50 IUs, plus other healthy nutrients such as protein, zinc, and iron. However, Bohland says, beef liver is high on saturated fat and cholesterol – 3.81 mg/g.

11. Sun lamps

If natural light is not an option, sun lamps will do. They provide light similar to that of the sun. The body then converts those rays into vitamin D. Often people will use tanning beds at a very low strength to get their necessary vitamin D, but they can be dangerous. Ultraviolet lamps and bulbs at home can also help improve your mood, especially in the winter, when many people experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  

12. Almond milk

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Almond milk is a good source of Vitamin D for people who don’t like or can’t drink regular milk,” Bohland says. You still get about 20 percent of your daily value of vitamin D in one cup of almond milk, and you’re also benefit from it containing almonds, often considered a superfood. A recent study shows that just 20 almonds a day are enough to improve your digestive health. Almonds are packed with plant-based protein and healthy fats.

13. Oatmeal

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If cereal is not your thing, certain instant oatmeal that have been fortified with vitamin D provide about 155 IUs, or 38 percent of DV, per packet. Oatmeal is a good choice because it doesn’t have a lot of calories – about 160 per serving. Check the label to make sure you’re getting the kind with vitamin D.

14. Tofu

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Some soy products have also been fortified with vitamin D. Oftentimes, calcium is also added. As always, check the label in the back. Tofu with vitamin D can have as much as 157 IUs, or about 25 percent of DV. It’s also a good protein source. Other tofu and soy foods high in Vitamin D are lite silken tofu (21 percent), sprouted tofu, and extra firm tofu and firm tofu (14 percent).

15. Ricotta cheese

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Most cheeses don’t have a lot of vitamin D because they are not fortified, but ricotta is a little different. One cup contains about 25 IUs, which is about five times more than most cheeses. This is just another reason to add ricotta to your afternoon fruit snack.