Vitamin D Foods for Thought

Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D.1 While some foods are fortified with this essential, oil-soluble vitamin, your healthcare practitioner may alert you to low levels through a simple blood test.

If your healthcare practitioner lets you know your vitamin D level is below the optimal range, adding these vitamin D-rich foods to your menu may help.

Foods that naturally contain vitamin D
Some foods are just born with it—vitamin D, that is. Primarily blessed with the D3 form of this vitamin, these foods, along with exposure to the sun, can help you get enough D in your diet.

  1. Beef liver: While not exactly the most popular cut of beef these days, people have long held the practice of serving this nutrient-dense organ meat with healthful intentions (and often with onions). Research has shown this belief is true, with 3.5 oz. of cooked beef liver boasting 50 IU of vitamin D!2,3 When properly prepared, liver can be a tasty treat. Consider trying German liver sausages such as Braunschweiger and liverwurst.
  2. Egg yolk: The days of throwing out egg yolks are over. Egg yolk is a powerhouse that contains up to 50 IU vitamin D. So have your eggs sunny side up and with a helping of vitamin D, too!4
  3. Fatty fish: Salmon and mackerel and tuna—oh my! All these oily fish have one thing in common—they contain a lot of vitamin D. Salmon provides 447 IU of vitamin D per 3 oz. serving, with the same amount of tuna rounding out at 154 IU.1
  4. Mushrooms: While these delectable fungi naturally contain little vitamin D, that changes with exposure to the sun or artificial light. Levels of vitamin D in mushrooms can rise significantly with the right amount of ultraviolet light.5

Foods that are often fortified with vitamin D
There are some foods that we seem to eat all the time. Milk and breakfast cereal are examples of these “staple foods” because many people regularly consume them. This widespread consumption of staple foods is also a great way to help ensure people get enough vitamin D in their diet.

  1. Breakfast cereal: What’s for breakfast? Cereal is readily accessible for many and typically fortified with vitamin D. Eating fortified breakfast cereal has been shown to help increase vitamin D levels after several weeks.6
  2. Cheese: Who doesn’t like cheese—especially when it is an excellent way to get vitamin D?7 Having a piece of fortified cheddar or Swiss provides a tasty vitamin D boost to your bottom line.
  3. Milk: Got moo? Almost all of the milk supply in the US is fortified with 100 IU of vitamin D.1 This practice started in the 1930s as a way to help combat rickets (a softening of the bones in children).1
  4. Orange juice: Orange you glad you can drink fortified juice? Go ahead and have a glass, because fortified orange juice has been shown to help increase vitamin D levels in adults.8
  5. Soy milk: The fortification of soy milk (or any dairy alternative) is voluntary in the US.9 However, some manufacturers do fortify their soy milk with vitamin D. Check the label before you buy!
  6. Yogurt: Yummy yogurt can be a great way to get vitamin D.1 Look for a yogurt that is low in sugar (even better: no sugar) and contains at least 20% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin D.1

Eat foods that are D-elicious!
Whether you choose to consume foods naturally abundant with vitamin D or those fortified staples everyone finds at the breakfast table, it’s important to make sure you get enough of this vital nutrient. Ask your healthcare practitioner how much vitamin D you should be getting daily and enjoy getting more of this essential vitamin.

This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare professional for advice on medical issues.


  1. Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Available at: Accessed October 17, 2018.
  2. Quittner E. 12 Ways to Get Your Daily Vitamin D. Available at:,,20504538,00.html?slide=93594#93594. Accessed October 18, 2018.
  3. Pirjo Het al. Contents of Cholecalciferol, Ergocalciferol, and Their 25-Hydroxylated Metabolites in Milk Products and Raw Meat and Liver As Determined by HPLC. J. Agric. Food Chem. 1995;43(9):2394–2399.
  4. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release. Available at: Accessed October 18, 2018. 
  5. Cashman KD. Effect of Ultraviolet Light-Exposed Mushrooms on Vitamin D Status: Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry Reanalysis of Biobanked Sera from a Randomized Controlled Trial and a Systematic Review plus Meta-Analysis. J Nutr. 2016;146(3):565-575.
  6. Powers Het al. Fortified breakfast cereal consumed daily for 12 wk leads to a significant improvement in micronutrient intake and micronutrient status in adolescent girls: a randomised controlled trial. Nutr J. 2016;15:69.
  7. Wagner Det al. The Bioavailability of Vitamin D from Fortified Cheeses and Supplements Is Equivalent in Adults. J Nutr. 2008;138(7):1365-1371.
  8. Biancuzzo R et al. Fortification of orange juice with vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 is as effective as an oral supplement in maintaining vitamin D status in adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(6):1621–1626.
  9. Lee G Jet al. Consumption of non-cow's milk beverages and serum vitamin D levels in early childhood. CMAJ. 2014;186(17):1287-1293. 

Submitted by the Metagenics Marketing Team

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