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Eat These Vitamin D-rich Foods For Improved Immunity & Bone Health

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is different from other vitamins because the human body can absorb most of this vitamin when exposed to sunlight. It acts as a pro-hormone, which affects the hormone balance and immune regulation of the body. The fat-soluble vitamin plays a major role in calcium absorption into the bones and a deficiency of this vitamin can result in softening of the bones called osteomalacia or a bone abnormality called rickets[1] .

A lack of vitamin D in your body can result in a weakened immune system, seasonal depression, autoimmune disease, cancer, weak bones, skin issues and dementia. Without enough vitamin D, your bones may become soft, porous and brittle[2] . Studies have found a number of white blood cells that are a part of your resistance system have receptors for vitamin D [3] .

Although your body produces vitamin D naturally when exposed to sunlight, there are a lot of people walking around in the sun with a deficiency in Vitamin D. Usually, people who work indoors a lot, or work odd hours, which cause them to be away from sunlight, are prone to the scarcity of Vitamin D [4] . But fret not, as there are several types of food that can contribute the necessary amount of vitamin D into your body.

Food Sources Of Vitamin D

1. Fish

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish like mackerel, salmon and tuna are excellent sources of vitamin D. 100 grams of salmon and mackerel provide 91 per cent of the daily recommended value of vitamin D [5] .

2. Mushrooms

One of the best sources of vitamin D, mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D. Mushrooms are exposed to sunlight while growing, which increases their vitamin D value due to its ability to synthesize this vitamin. Button mushrooms are the most common mushrooms which are an excellent source of vitamin D [6] .

3. Milk

Packaged milk and raw organic milk are fortified with vitamin D. Drink moderate and controlled amounts of whole milk help one to stay healthy and fit. A cup of raw cow milk will provide 24 per cent of the daily recommended value of vitamin D[7] . A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism was the first to report that a lactobacillus probiotic supplement could significantly increase levels of vitamin D in the blood [8] . However, it is important to note that ice-cream and cheese, both of which are obtained from milk, do not contain a high content of vitamin D.

4. Cod liver oil

One of the most direct means to gain vitamin D, cod liver is beneficial for your overall health. Extracted from the fish cod, cod liver has a much-elevated concentration of the vitamin. Cod liver oil can be bought in the form of capsules and can be consumed 1-2 times in a day [9] .

5. Egg

Another amazing source of vitamin D, eggs, especially egg yolks are a very popular choice to get your dose of Vitamin D. Although convenient, one must remember to eat the whole egg and not throw the yolk away, as the yolk is where Vitamin D is predominantly found[10] .

6. Orange juice

A glass of orange juice will provide you with ample amounts of vitamin D and calcium. Eating oranges daily for breakfast will help decrease the risk of vitamin D deficiency [11] .

7. Oats

Packed with vitamin D, oatmeal is a great source of various other vitamins and minerals as well. One half-cup of oatmeal can provide you up to 39 per cent of vitamin D [7] .

8. Shrimp

High in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, shrimps good for your bones, while reducing inflammation and lowering cholesterol. 3 ounces of shrimp provide 2 IU of vitamin D and it is also a great source of vitamin B12 and E [12] .

9. Butter

This milk product contains a small, yet significant amount of vitamin D and provides 9 IU of vitamin D. Butter contains saturated fats, which are required by the body to absorb antioxidants and vitamin D. But consume butter in moderate quantities [13] .

10. Yoghurt

Consuming yoghurt can help increase your calcium absorption in the body. A cup of yoghurt can help you meet 20 per cent of the daily recommended value of vitamin D. Yoghurt is also one of the best foods that helps you stay young and healthy [8] .

11. Soy products

A rich source of vitamin D, consuming soy products such as soy milk, soy chunks, soy butter provides you with the required amount of vitamin D. If you are highly deficient in Vitamin D, then it may be a good idea to replace dairy products with soy for some time. Dairy gives you only calcium while soy gives you both nutrients required for good bone health [14] .

Healthy Vitamin-D Rich Recipe

1. Scrambled egg burritos

Ingredients [15]

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Dash of coarsely ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon butter
  • 4 tablespoons reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas, heated
  • 4 tablespoons chopped seeded tomato, divided
  • 2 tablespoons salsa, divided


  • Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.
  • Coat a medium non-stick skillet with cooking spray.
  • Melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add the egg mixture and stir to scramble it.
  • Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese down the centre of one tortilla.
  • Top with half of the scrambled egg, 2 tablespoons tomato, and 1 tablespoon salsa.
  • Roll up burrito-style (fold the bottom up and sides to centre).
View Article References
  1. [1] Grant, W. B., & Holick, M. F. (2005). Benefits and requirements of vitamin D for optimal health: a review. Altern Med Rev, 10(2), 94-111.
  2. [2] Thacher, T. D., & Clarke, B. L. (2011, January). Vitamin D insufficiency. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 86, No. 1, pp. 50-60). Elsevier.
  3. [3] Shuler, F. D., Wingate, M. K., Moore, G. H., & Giangarra, C. (2012). Sports health benefits of vitamin D. Sports health, 4(6), 496-501.
  4. [4] Holick, M. F. (2011). Vitamin D deficiency in 2010: health benefits of vitamin D and sunlight: a D-bate. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 7(2), 73.
  5. [5] Holick, M. F. (2009). Vitamin D status: measurement, interpretation, and clinical application. Annals of epidemiology, 19(2), 73-78.
  6. [6] Calvo, M. S., & Whiting, S. J. (2013). Survey of current vitamin D food fortification practices in the United States and Canada. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 136, 211-213.
  7. [7] Fulgoni III, V. L., Keast, D. R., & Drewnowski, A. (2009). Development and validation of the nutrient-rich foods index: a tool to measure nutritional quality of foods. The Journal of nutrition, 139(8), 1549-1554.
  8. [8] Spiro, A., & Buttriss, J. L. (2014). Vitamin D: An overview of vitamin D status and intake in E urope. Nutrition bulletin, 39(4), 322-350.
  9. [9] Chen, T. C., Chimeh, F., Lu, Z., Mathieu, J., Person, K. S., Zhang, A., ... & Holick, M. F. (2007). Factors that influence the cutaneous synthesis and dietary sources of vitamin D. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics, 460(2), 213-217.
  10. [10] Simard, A. N. T. O. I. N. E., Vobecky, J. O. S. E. P. H., & Vobecky, J. S. (1991). Vitamin D deficiency and cancer of the breast: an unprovocative ecological hypothesis. Canadian journal of public health= Revue canadienne de sante publique, 82(5), 300-303.
  11. [11] Calvo, M. S., Whiting, S. J., & Barton, C. N. (2004). Vitamin D fortification in the United States and Canada: current status and data needs. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 80(6), 1710S-1716S.
  12. [12] Babu, U. S., & Calvo, M. S. (2010). Modern India and the vitamin D dilemma: evidence for the need of a national food fortification program. Molecular nutrition & food research, 54(8), 1134-1147.
  13. [13] Norman, A. W., Bouillon, R., Whiting, S. J., Veith, R., & Lips, P. (2007). 13th workshop consensus for vitamin D nutritional guidelines. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 103(3-5), 204.
  14. [14] Krall, E. A., Sahyoun, N., Tannenbaum, S., Dallal, G. E., & Dawson-Hughes, B. (1989). Effect of vitamin D intake on seasonal variations in parathyroid hormone secretion in postmenopausal women. New England Journal of Medicine, 321(26), 1777-1783.
  15. [15] Moore, C., Murphy, M. M., Keast, D. R., & Holick, M. F. (2004). Vitamin D intake in the United States. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 104(6), 980-983.
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