Vitamin D rich food is getting a lot of the spotlight lately — and for a good reason. This nutrient is essential for calcium absorption, which our bodies use to build strong bones and teeth. It’s also responsible for promoting heart health, boosting your immune system and maintaining good mental health.
Unlike other nutrients, vitamin D is one that your body can make. It does this when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight. While you’re relaxing and soaking up the sun on a warm, summery day, your body is hard at work turning those UV rays into vitamin D. That’s why this nutrient is often called “the sunshine vitamin.”
Unfortunately, some of us live in areas where the sun doesn’t shine regularly. The changing seasons can also impact your body’s ability to make vitamin D. (Hello, cloudy winter months.) For these reasons, vitamin D deficiency is common. In fact, around 50 percent of the world’s population is lacking in vitamin D. Here’s where food comes in. We get the majority — between 50 and 90 percent — of the recommended vitamin D from sunlight. The rest comes from our diets - eating high vitamin D foods.
Foods High in Vitamin D
To give your body a boost of this important nutrient, include the following vitamin D rich foods in your meal plan:
- Seafood. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel are some of the best whole food sources of vitamin D.
- Eggs. Sunnyside up is right — the sunshine vitamin is concentrated in egg yolks. For the biggest dose of vitamin D, eat the white and the yolk.
- Mushrooms. You may be surprised to learn that mushrooms are the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisles. ‘Shrooms grown outside under UV light — like cremini, portabella, morels and chanterelles — have higher levels of vitamin D than other varieties.
- Fortified foods. “Fortified” means that vitamins and minerals have been added to certain foods. Orange juice, milk (including nondairy milks), yogurt and some cereals are typically fortified with vitamin D. Even though the sunshine vitamin doesn’t occur naturally in fortified foods, your body is still able to absorb and use it.
Warm and hearty, the Cumin-Scented Salmon with Black Bean Stew recipe below is high in vitamin D and perfect for those cool winter nights. Add a few handfuls of chopped mushrooms to the stew and you’ll get an extra dose of the sunshine vitamin — no UV rays needed!
All you need:
1 tbsp crushed coriander seed
1 lb. salmon fillet
Black Bean Stew
¼ cup chopped yellow or white onion
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1½ cups water
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Green onions, chopped
1 fresh lime, juiced
All you do:
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium heat.
- Mix together cumin and coriander seeds in a small bowl; season salmon with spices, salt and pepper. Save some spice mix.
- Add salmon to skillet and cook on each side for 3 to 4 minutes until it easily flakes with a fork (145 degrees).
- Meanwhile, for the Black Bean Stew, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in another medium saucepan and add onion and garlic; cook for 3 minutes over medium heat.
- Add chopped peppers, crushed red pepper and reserved spiced mix. Cook until aroma starts to smell. Add tomatoes and allow tomatoes to start to sear. Add black beans and water. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add cilantro, green onions, and lime juice. Add salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Put black beans in individual bowls and add salmon portions on top.
Getting the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals in your diet can feel overwhelming. Let our Hy-Vee dietitians help. During our virtual Navigating Nutrition store tour, a Hy-Vee dietitian will guide you through the aisles and give you useful ideas for everyday wellness, including foods high in Vitamin D. Plus, you’ll get shopping tips and product recommendations to help you add more nutrition to your cart. Click here to sign up!
*The blog articles, recipes and recommendations found on this site are not intended as medical advice and should not replace consulting with your medical provider. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
About the Registered Dietitian
Alea Lester Fite, MS, RD, LD, received her bachelor’s degrees from the University of Minnesota in Spanish and biology and her master’s degree with coordinating internship program at the University of Illinois at Chicago in Nutrition and Dietetics. Alea has always had a passion for health and fitness, participating in competitive sports for most of her life. She found that she loved inspiring and helping people make healthy changes. Alea started seeing a registered dietitian when she was having her own digestive health issues and realized that she enjoyed learning about and working with food.