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Sources of Vitamin D

Sources of vitamin D from food are limited, but readily available from sunlight.  Vitamin D researchersSources-of-Vitamin-D | Review Article believe 5-15 minutes of planned sunlight exposure can safely provide sufficent levels of vitamin D daily.

Food Sources of Vitamin D

The National Institute of Health  Fact Sheet on Vitamin D notes that:

"Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. The flesh of fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks…Some mushrooms provide vitamin D2."

Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in the American diet.  For example, almost all of the U.S. milk supply is fortified with 100 IU/cup of vitamin D.  Other dairy products made from milk, such as cheese and ice cream, are generally not fortified.  In the United States, foods allowed to be fortified with vitamin D include cereal flours and related products, milk and products made from milk, and calcium-fortified fruit juices and drinks. Maximum levels of added vitamin D are specified by law.

NIH: Selected Food Sources of Vitamin D

Food   IUs per serving* Percent DV**
Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon 1,360 340
Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces 794 199
Mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light to increase vitamin D, 3 ounces (not yet commonly available) 400    100
Mackerel, cooked, 3 ounces 388    97
Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces    154 39
Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup 115-124 29-31
Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup (check product labels, as amount of added vitamin D varies) 100    25
Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the DV for vitamin D, 6 ounces (more heavily fortified yogurts provide more of the DV) 80    20
Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon 60    15

Note: **% DV of vitamin D above reflects a lower amount (400 IU daily ) than is being recommended by many vitamin D researchers (1000- 1700 IU daily)

Sunlight  As A Source of Vitamin D
In an article in the American Journal of Clinical nutrition entitled  VITAMIN D AND HEALTH IN THE 21ST CENTURY: BONE AND BEYOND, Holick noted:

"More than 90% of the vitamin D requirement for most people comes from casual exposure to sunlight.. The skin has a large capacity to produce vitamin D. There is great concern about any exposure to sunlight causing skin damage, including skin cancer and wrinkling….The most serious form of skin cancer is melanoma. It should be recognized that most melanomas occur on non—sun-exposed areas and that having more sunburn experiences, having more moles, and having red hair increase the risk of the deadly disease.

Exposure to sunlight for 5-15 min between the hours of 1000 and 1500 during the spring, summer, and autumn is usually enough exposure for individuals with skin type II or III . After this exposure, application of a sunscreen with a SPF of  15 is recommended, to prevent the damaging effects of chronic excessive exposure to sunlight."

Sources-of-Vitamin-D | Review ArticleCertain bone support supplements feature added vitamin D. For example, a daily serving AdvaCAL 1000  provides 1000 IU of D3, in line with the higher levels of D now being recommnded by key researchers of magnesium.  Such supplements can be taken to complement food and sunlight sources of vitamin D.