Safe Sources of Vitamin D

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: May 2017.

Vitamin D is an essential element for healthy bone growth, among other functions. There is also a growing body of research that points towards vitamin D’s potential ability to help fight depression and colds. Normally, individuals get enough vitamin D on a daily basis, if they eat a balanced diet and spend time outside. However, for individuals who need to avoid the sun, or who do not adequately absorb vitamin D, other measures may need to be taken such as consuming food sources of vitamin D.

Specifically, for those with skin cancer or who are concerned about reducing the risk of skin cancer, extra vitamin D may be acquired through a variety of means, most of which come from food sources.1 Below is a list of safe sources of vitamin D, and although it may not be exhaustive, it can provide a starting point for achieving your recommended daily dosage.

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  • Fortified foods.
  • Products like milk, orange juice, cereal, oatmeal, or tofu can be fortified with vitamin D, and will include this information on the package. These can be consumed on their own for a vitamin D boost or can be used in larger recipes.

  • Liver.
  • Although it may sound unappetizing, beef liver and cod liver oil are excellent sources of vitamin D. However, some liver sources, like cod liver oil, can contain extremely high amounts of vitamin D that could be dangerous to children, or if taken in excess. It’s important to consult your physician before utilizing these products to ensure no damage is done.

  • Canned Fish.
  • Fresh fish is not always easy to come by, depending on where you live, and your food budget. The good news is, canned fish, like tuna and sardines, are a good source of vitamin D, and are relatively inexpensive, and long-lasting.
  • Fresh Fish. Fresh salmon, tuna, eel, and mackerel are very high in vitamin D.
  • Eggs.
  • Specifically, egg yolk contains vitamin D, however, eggs are also high in cholesterol, and therefore, should be eaten in moderation.

  • Some Mushrooms.
  • Not all mushrooms contain vitamin D, however, some types are grown in ultraviolet (UV) light, and therefore, can make and contain vitamin D. Sometimes the level of vitamin D in these mushrooms is so significant, it can contain ½- ¾ your recommended daily amount. Mushrooms grown in UV light will be labeled as such on their packaging.

  • Vitamin D Supplements.
  • Although it seems like the most obvious on this list, vitamin D supplements could actually be the most dangerous if utilized incorrectly. Vitamin D can be toxic at high levels, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about the appropriate dosage for you before utilizing these supplements.

As always, talking with your doctor or a nutrition specialist can be the most helpful when it comes to creating a plan tailored to your specific needs. Vitamin D can be found in a variety of sources that can help you get the amount you need, without putting yourself at risk with too much sun.