Vitamin D Rich Food


The exposure of the skin to solar ultraviolet B (UVB; 290–315 nm) radiation is considered as the most important sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is rare in food. Among the vitamin D-rich food, oily fish are considered to be one of the best sources. The other factors that affect the cutaneous vitamin D synthesis are seasons, time of day, the length of the day, cloud cover, smog, skin melanin content, and sunscreen (1). UVB radiation does not penetrate glass, so exposure to sunlight indoors through a window does not produce vitamin D.

Complete cloud cover reduces UV energy by 50%; shade (including that produced by severe pollution) reduces it by 60%. Individuals with restricted sun exposure need to include good sources of vitamin D in their diet or take a supplement to achieve recommended levels of intake (2). National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that the intake of vitamin D from food sources and dietary supplements was not meeting recommended levels. Dairy products were the primary sources of both vitamin D and Calcium. Additional food fortifications, as well as dietary and supplement guidance, are needed for the general population (3).

Vitamin D Food source Table

Selected Food Sources of Vitamin D  (4)
Food IUs (International Units) per serving Percent DV (Daily Value)*
Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon 1,360 340
Swordfish, cooked, 3 ounces 566 142
Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces 447 112
Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces 154 39
Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup (check product labels, as amount of added vitamin D, varies) 137 34
Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup 115-124 29-31
Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the DV for vitamin D, 6 ounces (more heavily fortified yogurts provide more of the DV) 80 20
Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon 60 15
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines 46 12
Liver, beef, cooked, 3 ounces 42 11
Egg, 1 large (vitamin D is found in yolk) 41 10
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 0.75-1 cup (more heavily fortified cereals might provide more of the DV) 40 10
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce 6 2


*The DV for vitamin D is currently set at 400 IU for adults and children age 4 and older. Food labels, however, are not required to list vitamin D content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient, but foods providing lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.


1. Chen, Tai C., et al. “Factors that influence the cutaneous synthesis and dietary sources of vitamin D.” Archives of biochemistry and biophysics 460.2 (2007): 213-217.
3. Moore, Carolyn, et al. “Vitamin D intake in the United States.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 104.6 (2004): 980-983
4. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2011. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24. Nutrient Data Laboratory


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