Vitamin D foods

Vitamin D Foods And Deficiency Symptoms

Sun exposure favors the synthesis of vitamin D, but we can also find other sources in some foods

Vitamin D foods
Among others, whole grain cereals are great sources of vitamin D foods.


Vitamin D is one of the essential nutrients for the proper functioning of the body. It is popularly known to be the vitamin we get from the sun. However, the deficit of this nutrient is very common and can cause serious health problems if not detected in time.

To find out how to prevent our body from having vitamin D deficiency, in this article, we will detail which are the most common vitamin D foods, what are their function and benefits, and what happens if we have low vitamin D.

Vitamin D

Although many people don't know it, it is not a vitamin as such but a pro-hormone. The main difference is that vitamins are essential nutrients that are not found naturally in our body. That is, our body is unable to create them.

However, this type is synthesized in our organism thanks to the action of the rays of the sun affecting our skin.

Also, as we have already mentioned, this vitamin is also found in many foods so it is very easy to include in our diet.

7 vitamin D foods

There is a wide variety of foods that include it, most of which are affordable and readily available. The most representative ones are listed below.

1. Fish

Fish are one of the most popular sources of vitamin D-rich foods. One of the fish that provides large amounts of this nutrient is salmon, with 320 milligrams per 100 grams. Sardines are also a very important source of this nutrient, specifically canned sardines contain 180 milligrams in only 100 grams.

Other fish are cod, herring, catfish, and trout. Cod liver oil requires a special mention, for it contains more than 1500 milligrams of this vitamin per 100 grams.

2. Milk

Milk and dairy products are also great sources. Yogurts, milkshakes, milk, butter, cheese, and other dairy products can contain up to 50 milligrams per 100 grams. In addition to the supply of vitamin D they provide, dairy products are responsible for the supply of many different nutrients in the body.

3. Eggs

Eggs are also an excellent source of vitamin D. It is a very versatile food that we can eat almost every day in a variety of dishes and preparations, its contribution is 9 milligrams per 100 grams.

4. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are one of the best vitamin D foods. Although they aren't consumed often, mushrooms are increasingly present in Western diets for their high nutritional intake. In general, it is estimated that 100 grams of a shiitake mushroom or chanterelle usually has half of the daily intake of vitamin D needed.

5. Seafood

Seafood constitutes together with fish a group to consider as food sources rich in vitamin D. Oysters are one of the first foods that always appear on the lists of nutritious foods.

This group of foods, in addition to providing a large number of elements necessary for the body, are rich in this nutrient, specifically provide 80 milligrams per 100 grams. In addition to  oysters, crustaceans such as shrimps and prawns also provide a large amount of this vitamin.

6. Liver

The liver of animals such as the ox is a kind of food consumed since time immemorial and is also a food source rich in vitamin D. It is considered that this part of the animal provides more than half of the recommended daily amount.

7. Cereal

The main cereals rich in vitamin D are whole grains or enriched cereals. They are estimated to provide more than 50 milligrams per 100 grams of cereal and are excellent for breakfast.

In the case of industrial cereals sold in supermarkets, it is necessary to check the level of sugar they contain and make sure that you are not consuming excessively sugared cereals.

Vitamin D uses and benefits

As we have already mentioned, vitamin D foods fulfill a whole range of essential functions in our organism and they can provide a whole series of benefits to our health as well.

1. Reduces the risk of flu

According to some studies in children, vitamin D administration during the winter months reduced the risk of influenza infection by up to 40%.

2. Helps bone health

Vitamin D plays a vital role in regulating calcium and maintaining healthy phosphorus levels in the blood. Both facts are vital for the proper maintenance of our bone health.

Moreover, it also helps with calcium absorption. A deficiency of this vitamin would make it excreted by the kidneys, causing alterations and bone diseases.

3. Children's health

The health of young children depends largely on their diet and that vitamin levels are always optimal. In the case of vitamin D deficiency, it is associated with an increased risk of childhood respiratory diseases  such as asthma, allergies, and atopic skin.

4. Lower risk of diabetes

Some observational research suggests that there is an inverse relationship between blood concentrations of this vitamin and the development of type 2 diabetes.

Specifically, patients with this type of condition who have low vitamin D levels may experience problems with insulin secretion and glucose tolerance.

5. Healthy pregnancy

Healthy vitamin D levels are also essential during pregnancy. According to scientific evidence, pregnant women with vitamin D deficiency have an increased risk of developing pre-eclampsia, as well as an increased risk of resorting to cesarean section during childbirth.

Low vitamin D is also associated with bacterial vaginosis and gestational diabetes mellitus.

Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common among the population. According to studies, it is estimated that there are about one billion people who suffer from low levels of this vitamin in the blood.

Major causes and risk factors are:

  • Overweight or obesity
  • Age (the older you are, the more likely you are to have vitamin D deficiency)
  • Fish and dairy deficit in the diet
  • Having dark skin
  • Living in areas without much sun
  • Abusing the sun protection factor
  • Staying indoors for too long

As a result, vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of diseases and conditions such as excessive fatigue for no apparent reason, depression, bone, muscle and back pain, loss of bone density, rickets in children, hair loss, slow wound healing processes and an increased likelihood of colds, flu, and infections.


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Dunne, S. & Bell, J. A. (2014) Vitamin D’s Role in Health — Deterministic or Indeterminate?. Today’s Dietitian, 16(7): 48.

Sahota, O. (2014) Understanding vitamin D deficiency. Age Ageing, 43(5): 589–591: 10.1093/ageing/afu104.