Vitamin D – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus, supporting healthy bones and teeth. This important nutrient is also involved in regulating the immune system and the cells in the body.

Vitamin D is fat-soluble and is stored in the body when your skin is exposed to sunlight, as well absorbed when eating some foods. Research suggests that by getting enough vitamin D a person can lower their risk of developing cancer and multiple sclerosis. It is recommended the average person gets 20 to 30 minutes of sunlight on exposed arms and legs every day.

Characteristics of a Vitamin D Deficiency

A vitamin D deficiency in children can result in rickets, a disease that causes soft, weak bones. Not getting enough vitamin D (sunlight) can also result in the softening of bones in adults which can lead to osteoporosis and other bone disorders, characterized by weak achy bones including muscle weakness.

The elderly and people living in northern colder-climates are at higher risk of a vitamin D deficiency caused by the lack of getting regular sunlight.

Vitamin D Food Sources

Vitamin D is best absorbed through sunlight, but this essential nutrient can also be found in most fish and eggs.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Vitamin D

This chart lists the best food sources for vitamin D, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of vitamin D in that single serving.

Vitamin D Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Try our Baked Maple Salmon recipe! Fish are an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient vitamin D.


Written by: J. Marshall


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