The Top Vitamin D Rich Foods + Recipes

Why is Vitamin D important? How much do you need each day? What do deficiencies look like? Which foods and recipes contain it?

Bella Grace
The Top Vitamin D Rich Foods + Recipes

Vitamin D (D2) Ergocalciferol (D3) Cholecalciferol

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which can also occur as D2 (Ergocalciferol) and D3 (Cholecalciferol). Of these, Vitamin D2 is the most common form added to foods and milk. It is not as active as D3. Vitamin D3 is formed in the skin when exposed to ultraviolet sunlight. When formed it is transported, by a transport protein, to the liver and converted into 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3: the most biologically active form of vitamin D. The conversion can occur in other organs and tissues including the kidneys, prostate, bone and white blood cells. Some prominent researchers have identified Vitamin D deficiencies as pandemic. Deficiencies are associated within individuals who have little sunlight exposure, or who have digestive issues with poor absorption or kidney disorders.

Why is Vitamin D important and what does it do in the body?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in many important body functions. It is best known for working with calcium to help build and maintain strong bones. Vitamin D is also involved in regulating the immune system, reducing the risk of autoimmune responses such as insulin-dependent diabetes and multiple sclerosis and it may help prevent cancer. A lack of vitamin D3 in mothers during pregnancy has also been associated with the development of autism and developmental disorders.

What amount of Vitamin D do you need each day?

Vitamin D comes in a number of different forms and you have to choose your supplement carefully. The most bio available source is 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Requirements are different for each individual but an intake of 700 - 1,000 ius/day has been shown to increase serum D3. Intakes for younger adults may be higher, ranging from 4,000 - 10,000 ius/day.

The DRI (Daily Recommended Intake) /RDA (Recommended DailyAllowance) of dietary vitamin D are listed below:

Please Note: By definition, the DRI/RDA recommendations apply only to 98% of healthy individuals and are not sufficient for those with higher nutrient requirements based upon their biochemical individuality, genetics, health status, medications, deficiencies, lifestyle, and toxic exposures.

Recommended dietary allowances for vitamin D are listed below.

The National Institutes of Health has set the maximum tolerable upper limit at 1,000 IU daily for infants 0 - 6 months, 1,500 IU daily for infants 6 months to one year, 2,500 IU daily for children 1 - 3 years, 3,000 IU daily for children 4 - 8 years, and 4,000 IU daily for anyone over 9.


Ask your doctor before giving a vitamin D supplement to a child.

  • Infants birth to 12 months: 400 IU (adequate intake)
  • Children 1 -18 years: 600 IU (recommended dietary allowance)

Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 400 IU of vitamin D daily for breastfed infants until they are weaned and drinking at least 1 liter per day of whole milk, or formula fortified with vitamin D. The AAP also recommends that children and teens, who drink less than 1 liter of milk a day, take 400 IU of vitamin D.


  • 19 - 50 years: 600 IU (recommended dietary allowance)
  • 70 years and older: 800 IU (recommended dietary allowance)
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding females: 600 IU (recommended dietary allowance)

Recommended Daily Intake 5mcg/Day

Optimal daily Allowance 30mcg/Day

What are possible Vitamin D deficiency conditions and symptoms?


Burning sensation - mouth and throat





Hair loss

Increased alkaline phosphate levels  (indicating liver stress)


Loss of appetite

Low calcium

Muscle weakness, twitching or spasms




Scaly lips

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)


Soft Teeth/tooth decay

Visual problems


What are possible Vitamin D excess symptoms?

Dosages of Vitamin D are poorly understood regarding toxicity. You cannot get too much vitamin D from sunlight, and it would be hard to get too much from food. Generally, excess vitamin D is a consequence of taking in too high a dose as a supplement.

Excess vitamin D can cause several side effects including:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Metal taste in mouth
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bone pain
  • Tiredness
  • Sore eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • A frequency of urination
  • Muscle problems

Individuals with the following conditions should be especially careful in taking vitamin D supplements:

  • High blood calcium or phosphorus levels
  • Heart problems
  • Kidney disease
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Tuberculosis

What steals Vitamin D from the body?

A lack of sunlight - prevents Vitamin D3 synthesis.

Anti-Hyperlipidemiadrugs (bile acid sequestrants): Cholestyramine (Questran) and Colestipol (Colestid).

Antiseizure medications: Phenytoin (Dilantin), Carbazamine (Tegretol) and Primidone (Mysoline)

Corticosteroids: Prednisone(Meticorten), Dexamethasone (Decadron), Methylprednisolone (Medrol)

Goutmedications: Colchicine (Colbenemid), Probenecid (Benemid)

Antifungalmedication: Ketoconazole(Nizoral)

H-2 Receptor Antagonists: Cimetidine (Tagamet), Famotidine (Pepcid), Nizatidine(Axid), Ranitidine (Zantac).

Weight management drugs: Orlistat (Xenical) as it decreases exocrine output and reduces fat absorption.

Mineral oil - interferes with absorption of vitamin D.

Additional drug/vitamin D interactions;

Atorvastatin(Lipitor)- vitamin D may reduce the amount of Lipitor absorbed, making it less effective.

Calcipotriene (Dovonex) - vitamin D supplements could cause calcium levels to increase in the blood.

Calcium channel blockers- vitamin D may interfere with: Nifedipine (Procardia), Verapamil (Calan), Nicardipine(Cardene), DiltiaZem (Cardizem, Dilacor) Amlodipine (Norvasc)

Corticosteroids- long-term corticosteroids can cause bone loss and osteoporosis and may require additional Vitamin D3 and Calcium.

Digoxin(Lanoxin) -vitamin D may cause levels of calcium to increase in the blood.

What tests can be used to assess Vitamin D levels?

Blood levels Vitamin D as 25-Hydroxyvitamin in serum 250nmol/L is indicated as toxic.

What foods contain the highest amounts of Vitamin D?

Top 10 Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) rich foods are:

1. Raw herring 16218 mcg/100g

2. Pickled herring 680 mcg/100g

Recipe: Homemade Pickled Herring

3. Herring (cooked) 22.5mcg/100g

Recipe: How to Cook Herring

4. Oysters 320 mcg/100g

Recipe: Paleo Pan Fried Oysters

5. Caviar 320 mcg/100g

Recipe: Avocado and Caviar Fat Bomb

6. Mackerel 17.5mcg/100g

Recipe: Paleo Pan Fried Mackerel

7. Salmon 12.5 mcg/100g

Recipe: Almond Crusted Salmon

8. Cottage cheese 2.0mcg/100g

Recipe: Blueberry Cottage Cheese Cake

9. Egg yolk 1.75mcg/100g

Recipe: Fully Loaded Frittata

10. Mushrooms 27 mcg/100g

Recipe: Mushroom and Garlic Saute


Source: Vitamin D | University of Maryland Medical Center
University of Maryland Medical Center

Sidney.M.D, Pangborn.Jon Autism effective Biomedical Treatments 2005

Lord S.Richard, BralleyJ. Alexander, Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine 2ndEd 2008

Sharon, Michael Dr. Complete Nutrition 2002

Murray. T. Michael. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements 1996

Holford. Patrick. The Optimum Nutrition Bible 2014

Laake. Dana Nutrient Chart (not published)

Groff. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism 5th 2009

Gibson. Principles of Nutritional Assessment 2nd Ed. 2007

Clinical Nutrition:Afunctional Approach 2nd Ed. IFM 2004

Harpers review of Biochemistry. Lange Med 26 Ed 2009

Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH Fact sheets 2010

Balch. A. Phyllis CNC Prescription for Nutritional Healing 2002


This article was written by Jonathan Tommey, CCN and Bella Grace, NTP. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Content should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

Beef Bulgogi Bowls

Makes 2 Large Bowls


1 lb. grass-fed rib eye or sirloin steak

2 tablespoons cooking oil of choice

2 tablespoons coconut aminos

2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic

1 tablespoon raw honey or sweetener of choice

2 stems of green onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

4 cups dark leafy greens

2 cups roasted broccoli

3 large carrots, roasted

3 cups cauliflower rice

Homemade Mayo

+ hot sauce (to taste)

= spicy mayo!


1) To make the roasted vegetables, throw frozen broccoli and carrots onto a baking sheet, drizzle in cooking oil of choice, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven at 375F for 30 minutes or so. Remove and set aside.

2) Place the steaks in a large bowl with coconut aminos, minced garlic, raw honey, salt and pepper. Let marinate for 10-30 minutes.

3) In a large skillet, add cooking oil and saute the steaks (along with sauce) over medium high heat or until the steak is medium-well done.

4) Set the beef aside and slice into thin pieces.

5) Using the same pan, heat up your cauliflower rice in the skillet until piping hot.

5) To each bowl, add 2 cups of greens. Top greens with 1-2 carrots, 1 cup roasted broccoli, 1 1/2 cups cauliflower rice, 1/2 lb of steak and chopped green onion. Add a dollop of spicy mayo on the side, sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy!

Bella Grace

Isabella Grace is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner focusing on toxin-free, natural living to its fullest extent. Her mission is to provide personalized integrative health solutions to create sustainable, lifelong change and enable you to live, love, and serve at your fullest health potential.

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