NutritionVitamin DVitamins and Minerals

Vitamin D in Food

Written by

Lauren Dobischok
1 November, 2022

Medically checked article All HOMED-IQ content is reviewed by medical specialists

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is particularly important for bone health, the immune system, and mental well-being. The human body can produce most of its required vitamin D with the help of sunlight. However, this is particularly difficult in certain regions of the world during the darker winter months, where sunlight is scarce. But did you know that vitamin D is also found in food? Although the amount of vitamin D in food is relatively small and in most cases does not cover all your daily requirements, eating foods high in vitamin D does make a positive contribution to your overall levels. This article will summarize the foods highest in vitamin D, as well as how much vitamin D most people need.

Why is vitamin D so important?

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient in keeping our body healthy and functioning normally. It helps strengthen the immune system, maintain and grow bones and muscles, and could help regulate our mood. Many people are unaware of how important this vitamin really is, and symptoms of deficiency can easily go unnoticed. Vitamin D deficiency can cause a loss of bone density, leading to bone pain and conditions like osteoporosis. It can also cause muscle pain and fatigue, or mood changes like depression. It is also suspected that vitamin D plays a role in the immune system and anti-inflammatory action in the body. As such, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to chronic inflammation, a condition that can increase the risk of specific diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and asthma. Do you also have low vitamin D levels? Find out with Homed-IQ’s Vitamin D Test.

How much vitamin D do you need each day?

As with other nutrients, your daily requirement depends on your age. Therefore, seniors need twice as much vitamin D as newborns. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is measured in micrograms (µg).

Age Recommended Amount
Newborns (0 – 12 months) 10 µg
Children (1 – 13 years) 15 µg
Youth (14 – 18 years) 15 µg
Adults (19 – 70 years) 15 µg
Seniors (71 years and older) 20 µg

What foods contain high amounts of vitamin D?

Although it’s difficult to get all required vitamin D from food alone, the consumption of vitamin D-rich foods contributes to your overall levels and is smart to include in your diet. This is especially important in the fall and winter when sunlight is more scarce. Vitamin D is primarily found in animal products, which means people who regularly consume meat, fish or dairy can obtain respectable amounts of vitamin D through diet. As non-animal products are much lower in vitamin D, several common food products are fortified with vitamin D to ensure those who do not eat animal products can get sufficient amounts of this vitamin. People who do not eat many sources of vitamin D may also consider alternatives like vitamin D supplements.

The following animal products are high in vitamin D:

  • Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines)
  • Dairy products
  • Liver
  • Eggs

Although non-animal products are largely lower in vitamin D than animal products, certain non-animal products are rich in vitamin D.

Plant-based foods with a relatively high vitamin D content include:

  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified margarine
  • Avocados
  • Fortified plant milks (soy, almond, etc)
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Fortified breakfast cereals

To demonstrate the relationship between the vitamin D content in plant and animal products, see the vitamin D content per 100g for animal and plant products below.

Animal Product Vitamin D in µg per 100 g
Salmon 16.00
Sardines 4.83
Egg yolk 5.45
Plant Product Vitamin D in µg per 100 g
Chanterelle Mushrooms 2.1
Fortified margarine 6.8
Avocado 3.43

Vitamin D supplements

Supplements are an easy way for people that don’t get enough vitamin D through their diet and/or sunlight exposure to meet their needs. However, it is important to pay attention to the amount that you consume, and not to exceed recommended dosages. Although vitamin D is important for our health, consuming too much can cause health problems rather than make us feel better.


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About the author

Lauren Dobischok

Lauren is a health scientist and science communicator currently living in the Netherlands. Originally from Canada, she completed a Research Master’s in Health Sciences at the Netherlands Institute of Health Sciences at Erasmus University Rotterdam (NIHES) with a specialisation in epidemiology. Prior to her master’s degree, she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. With a background in public health, her goal is to create accurate scientific content that is easy to understand and empowers people to make informed decisions. Within Homed-IQ, Lauren works as a Product Developer and Content Lead, working closely with physicians and scientists on medical devices for Homed-IQ’s new products and written communications.