What foods contain vitamin D?
Other foods that naturally contain vitamin D are egg yolks, organ meats (offal), and high-fat dairy.
- Muscle meat (beef, pork, chicken, lamb) has some vitamin D, but the concentrations are not considerable.
- Egg yolks’ vitamin D concentrations are between the vitamin D values of muscle meat and organ meat.
- Milk and dairy products are normally quite low in vitamin D if they are not fortified with it. The highest natural values are reported in butter and cheese due to the high fat content. In the United States and Canada, milk is fortified with vitamin D, as are some bread products, orange juices, cereals, yogurts, and cheeses. The amount of vitamin D in fortified foods is generally around 100 IUs per serving.
Recent studies indicate that cooking may sometimes significantly lower vitamin D content. Canning and freezing fish does not alter its vitamin D much, nor does baking. Frying salmon, on the other hand, was found in one study to decrease the vitamin D by about 50 percent. The canned versions of oily fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel can be a simple, relatively inexpensive way to get your vitamin D plus the extremely important omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
There is also some inconsistent evidence for the effects of cooking mushrooms on their vitamin D content. Vitamin D levels are maintained with frying mushrooms or making a soup, but one study found that cooking mushrooms (the technique wasn’t mentioned), considerably decreased the vitamin D content.
Because of the incredible variability among foods, you can’t always depend on printed information to provide the correct vitamin D content. There is currently a renewed effort among nutrition researchers to re-measure and update this information. Nevertheless, you can use the list below, which comes from the USDA Nutrient Database and other published scientific sources, as a general guideline.
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- Cod liver oil: 400–1,000 IU/teaspoon
- Salmon, fresh wild caught: 600–1,000 IU/3.5 oz
- Salmon, fresh farmed: 100–250 IU/3.5 oz
- Salmon, canned: 300–852 IU/3.5 oz
- Sardines, canned: 192-300 IU/3.5 oz
- Mackerel, raw: 363-638 IU/3.5 oz
- Mackerel, canned: 250 IU/3.5 oz
- Tuna, canned: 236 IU/3.5 oz
- Shiitake mushrooms, fresh: 100 IU/3.5 oz
- Shiitake mushrooms, sun-dried: 1,600 IU/3.5 oz
- Maitake mushrooms, fresh: 786 IU/1 cup, diced
- Portabella mushrooms, grilled: 634 IU/1 cup, sliced
- Egg yolk: 20-40 IU/yolk