Top 10 Foods That Help Boost Vitamin D Levels

Updated on March 6, 2019
Sneha Kannan profile image

I am a dental surgeon with 6 years experience. I am currently practicing in Coimbatore as a medical coordinator.


Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential to maintaining proper bone structure. It is required for the regulation of calcium and phosphorus in the body. It helps in the absorption of calcium from the food we eat after it reaches the small intestine. Without this vitamin, the calcium in our diet gets excreted through the kidneys. Recent studies also show the role of vitamin D in maintaining the nervous system, the muscular system, and the immune system.

Unlike other nutrients and vitamins, our body synthesizes vitamin D on sun exposure. When our skin is exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sunlight, vitamin D is made from cholesterol. Eating foods that are rich in vitamin D is extremely important.

Foods Rich in Vitamin D

  1. Fatty Fish
  2. Mushrooms
  3. Cod Liver Oil
  4. Egg Yolks
  5. Cheese
  6. Beef Liver
  7. Ghee
  8. Emu Oil
  9. Oysters
  10. Fortified Food

1. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, rainbow trout, herring, and sardines are a rich source of vitamin D. 3.5 ounces of salmon, herring, and sardines, have between 361 and 685 IU, 1,628 IU, and 272 IU of vitamin D respectively. This is only true for naturally raised and ocean-sourced fishes, as the farmed fishes do not receive natural food sources.

2. Mushrooms

Mushrooms synthesize vitamin D from sunlight, just like humans. This means that they are an excellent source of vitamin D for vegetarians. Placing mushrooms under sunlight for 20 minutes helps boost its vitamin D levels. Mushrooms that grow in the wild contain 2,300 IU of vitamin D per serving. However, commercially grown mushrooms are farmed in a dark and humid place, so they contain much less vitamin D. Shiitake mushrooms are the best source amongst all other mushrooms.

3. Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is a good source of vitamin D, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids. It has been used for many years to treat vitamin deficiencies in children. One teaspoon of cod liver oil contains around 450 IU of vitamin D. If you do not like eating fish, then this is the best option for you. It is also available in capsule form.

4. Egg Yolks

Eggs are another good source of vitamin D. The egg white is rich in proteins, and the egg yolk is rich in vitamins and minerals. An egg yolk from a chicken raised indoors has 30 IU of vitamin D, but the yolk of a chicken that roams in the sunlight contains much higher amounts of vitamin D.

5. Cheese

Ricotta cheese contains the highest amount of vitamin D among all milk products. It contains around 25 IU of vitamin D per serving.

6. Beef Liver

Beef liver and other organs contain fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, B, and K. Three ounces of beef liver contains 42 IU of vitamin D, which is one-fourth of the daily vitamin D requirement.

7. Ghee

Ghee is like clarified butter. It is made from heating butter for a long time to remove proteins. It is a very good source of vitamin K and D. Both vitamin K and D are needed for optimal bone and dental health.

8. Emu Oil

Emu oil is found in the fat of an emu, which is a large and flightless bird found in Australia. It is said to be rich in vitamin K and D. It is also available in capsule form.

9. Oysters

Raw oysters that are caught in the wild contain 320 IU of vitamin D per 100 gm. They are also a good source of vitamin B12, zinc, iron, selenium, copper, and manganese. Oysters should always be cleaned and cooked properly before eating, because they might contain harmful bacteria.

10. Fortified Food

As the natural sources of vitamin D are very limited, and most of it is found in fish and other non-vegetarian food, vegetarian people mainly suffer from vitamin D deficiency. For this reason, food that does not contain vitamin D is fortified by adding it. The fortified food products that are commercially available include soy milk, orange juice, cereals, oatmeal, yogurt. Etc.


What Are the Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency?

Our modern diet lacks many essential dietary nutrients and minerals. So, you should try to spend as much time as possible in the sun and include the above-mentioned food sources of vitamin D in your daily diet. If you see any signs of vitamin D deficiency, then consult a nutritionist before taking supplements. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should consider including more vitamin D in your diet.

Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

  1. Brittle bones.

  2. Tiredness.

  3. Pain in the joints and bones.

  4. Depression.

  5. Hairfall.

  6. Bleeding gums.

Daily Dietary Allowance of Vitamin D

Age Group
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) per day
0 to 6 months
400 IU
7 to 12 months
400 IU
1 to 3 years
600 IU
4 to 8 years
600 IU
9 to 70 years
600 IU
Above 70 years
800 IU
Pregnancy and Lactation
600 IU


This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Sneha Kannan


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