Health Topics

Foods That Contain Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is important for bone health and is linked to reduced rates of Alzheimer's disease, strokes and cancers.

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because it is produced in the skin by ultraviolet rays from the sun. Gray skies, weak winter sun, sunscreen use and an indoor lifestyle mean that most of us are lacking in this essential vitamin.

Vitamin D From Sun Exposure

Many people live in northern climates and are not at the right latitude to make vitamin D in their skin. (Did you know that vitamin D is actually not a vitamin, but a pro-sterol hormone?) Sun exposure without sunscreen for 10-15 minutes a day to exposed skin at the right latitude has been found to be maintain adequate levels of vitamin D.

However, if you are not getting the recommended 1,000-2,000 IU of vitamin D daily from the sun or your diet, you should talk with your physician about taking a vitamin D supplement to ensure you are meeting your daily needs. Taking your vitamin D supplement with your largest meal of the day will result in better absorption and thus a better blood level for the vitamin. Vitamin D3 supplements (cholecalciferol) are more potent than vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) - the precursor of D3.

Foods That Contain Vitamin D3

  • Sun irradiated mushrooms
  • Herring
  • Fresh salmon
  • Halibut and mackerel
  • Cod liver oil (also has real vitamin A so be careful as too much vitamin A can be damaging to the liver)
  • Egg yolks
  • Sardines
  • Beer liver
  • Vitamin D3 fortified foods: dairy and some fortified orange juices