Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is necessary for your body's balance of both calcium and phosphorus. Without adequate vitamin D, or due to a problem absorbing this vitamin, you are vulnerable to weakening of the structure of your bones. Vitamin D may also influence your immune system, helping prevent infiltration by viruses and bacteria. People who don't get enough natural sunlight, the elderly and those who are obese are at highest risk for a vitamin D deficiency, but there are foods and beverages you can consume to offset these risks. Check with your doctor before making changes to your diet to improve your vitamin D intake.
Fish that are high in natural oils, like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, are also high in vitamin D. These fish also contain as much as 15 percent healthy essential fats that can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. A single 3.5-ounce serving of salmon contains roughly 647 international units of vitamin D, which is over the daily requirement for anyone under 70, which is 600 international units or 15 micrograms, so it's easy to meet your recommended amount by eating fish. The Skin Cancer Foundation advises you eat certain fish, such as mackerel, fresh tuna and swordfish, with caution because they tend to contain high levels of mercury. One cup of salted mackerel contains 1368 international units and a 3-ounce serving of wild catfish contains 425, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database.
Although eggs have a reputation for being high in cholesterol, the truth is, they have less than previously believed. According to a report from the USDA Beltsville Human Research Center, researchers have found that eggs contain less cholesterol and that the cholesterol in eggs probably isn't as sinister as it had been labeled. Eggs are also rich in vitamin D and contain more of it than was previously believed. Healthy adults can eat two eggs a day without worrying about adverse effects, and can get 82 international units of their vitamin D, as well as other important nutrients.
Fortified Milk and Cereal
Whole milk is naturally high in vitamin D but it is also high in fat. Low-fat and nonfat milk contain much less vitamin D because the vitamin is in the fat, but most milk that is commercially made has added vitamin D. If you aren't a fan of milk, many cereals are also fortified with vitamin D. Choose a cereal that is low in sugar and high in dietary fiber, for added nutritional value. Vitamin D-fortified milk usually contains approximately 125 international units of the vitamin in a single serving.
Cod Liver Oil
Getting your vitamin D from eating fish is useful, but this doesn't provide the supplementation of this vitamin the way cod liver oil does. According to Celia M. Ross, in the "Journal of the American Board of Family Practice," vitamin D deficiency is a widespread problem and has been found to affect 42 percent of healthy adolescents in one study. Vitamin D is found in concentrated amounts in the liver of the cod fish, which is why the oil is so rich in this vitamin. Many people however, are still averse to the taste of cod liver oil in its liquid form. Fortunately, cod liver oil is available in capsule form, so you can avoid the fishy taste.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- The Skin Cancer Foundation: Vitamin D
- USDA: Nutrient Data for Whole, Large Eggs from a USDA Nationwide Sampling
- The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice: Fish Oil versus Cod Liver Oil: Is Vitamin D a Reason to Go Back to the Future
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Vitamin D Content of Selected Foods