Foods That Increase Vitamin-D-But Do Not Miss This One

What are the foods that increase Vitamin-D? Why do we care?


Vitamin-D Rich Foods

Current estimate reveals 94% of the world population needs more Vit-D. Research has established, every cell of our body has a Vitamin-D receptor. Vitamin-D deficiency is related to >200 diseases as of today and it is still an emerging field.

I just don’t want to ignore this finding which came as Google alert for Vitamin-D today as I write this post: “Early screening and management of severe vitamin D deficiency is beneficial for protecting renal function in a relatively healthy population,” the authors write in study published in the December issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

How do we address this scary deficiency day in and day out to make sure our body is working with optimal Vitamin-D level? One of the recourses to meet and increase the D-nutrient in our body is food that we eat every day. But unfortunately, the current supermarket food isles are not carrying too many of them.

The reason being, Vitamin-D3 is exclusively formed by the mammalian skin exposure to sunlight. So the food you see is mostly from animal sources. Fungi produce Vitamin-D2 from sunlight exposure. Human has intelligently fortified several foods taking advantage of the fat solubility of Vitamin-D, thus you can secure Vit-D2 fortified milk and dairy products. Vitamin D2 was added to orange juice and found to be easily absorbed.

But for vegans and vegetarians, there are few foods available where mushrooms standout. Mushrooms contain Vitamin-D2.

Let’s be aware of the fact Vitamin-D (D2 and D3) that we get from sun exposure and acquire from food is not the form that your doctor measures to determine your nutrient status.

What we eat is not what gives our measure of the Vitamin-D level.

If we stuff ourselves with Vitamin-D3 rich food, it does not lift the level that the laboratory measures. Vitamin-D increase in our body is measured not by Vit-D (skin made from sunlight) but from its 1st metabolite, i.e. 25-hydroxy-Vitamin-D. It could be 25-hydroxy-Vitamin-D3, and 25-hydroxy-Vitamin-D2 depending on what you ate.

Vitamin-D just does not convert by itself to 25-hydroxy Vit-D metabolite then to the 1,25-hydroxy Vit-D. It needs the magnesium, zinc, and vitamin-K.

This blog will cover sources that will help increase the Vitamin-D.

  • Vit-D from all sources
  • Vitamin-D3 from Animal Sources
  • Vitamin-D2 from Plant Sources
  • Magnesium – The link between lazy (D2 and D3) and active Vitamin-D (25-hydroxy-Vitamin-D2 and D3)
  • Two easy and healthy recipes which help vitamin-D improvement

Vitamin-D Foods-A Comprehensive List

Source Vitamin-D Class IU (600 RDI) Amount
Animal D3
Meckerel D3 360 100 g
Herring D3 1625 100 g
Hallibut D3 600 100 g
Salmon-Wild caught D3 988 100 g
Sardine D3 453 60 g
Rainbow trout D3 623.3 100g
Beef Liver D3 12 3 1/2 Ounce
Oyster D3 320 100g
Cod D3 104 3.5 Ounce
Egg Yolks D3 40 1- egg
Cod Liver Oil D3 450 1-teaspoon
Plant and Fortified D2
Mushroom-sunlight treated D2 2300 100 g
Orange juice 142 237 mL-1cup
Dry Cereal, D2 40-50 3/4th of a cup
Milk D2 98 237 mL-1 cup
Yogurt D2 120 6 Oz- brand dependent
Cheese D2 7 28 g

Vitamin-D3 from Animal Sources

Fatty fish:

Most of the population around the world has great access to fish. Many of the fishes, particularly the fatty ones are a rich source of Vitamin-D. While all the fish categories have not yet been calculated for Vitamin-D content, there are many those are evaluated by USDA they have a Vitamin-D number attached to them.

The table above lists foods with the associated quantity of D3 and D2. High in vitamin-D foods, such as salmon, herring, mackerel Sardines, and cod.

The small fish like sardine and herring are widely available and cost-effective. They can really address Vitamin-D need for a very large population. I have attached a recipe to cook these kinds of small fishes while preserving D-nutrient.

Beef liver is a slice of organ meat comes with Vitamin-K that helps Calcium metabolism along with Vitamin-D.

Just getting Vitamin-D rich food is not enough for upping your Vitamin-D. Cooking them to preserve the nutrients in it is another aspect. For example, fried salmon loses 50% of the Vit-D3. You can reserve most of the Vitamin-D nutrient by baking them.

Vitamin-D2 From Plant Sources


Wild mushrooms are rich sources of Vitamin-D2 counting toward 2300 IU greater than 3 times of RDI. The sunlight treated wild mushrooms are fortified with Vitamin-D2.

Fortified foods

Fortified D2-foods like breakfast cereal, milk, orange juice, yogurt, cheese have some Vit-D2. They all add up to increase your Vitamin-D2 which is the lazy form of Vit-D.

Vitamin D2 and Vitamin-D3: Where are the differences?

The short answer to the question is both works and improve your D-nutrient level. Ergocalciferol (Vitamin-D2) and Cholecalciferol (Vitamin-D3) belong to the same structural class but have a slightly different structure. Vitamin-D2 is not as effective as Vitamin-D3 that we produce from sunlight interacting with skin but works to a lesser degree (~75%). As a testimonial, Vitamin-D2 has helped upped my own severe Vitamin-D deficiency.

How does the lazy D2/D3 work? What mobilizes them? It is mostly the mineral Magnesium.

Magnesium – The link Between Lazy and Active Vitamin-D

Magnesium helps activate Vitamin-D for hydroxylation in the liver to form 25-hydroxy-Vitamin-D. This is the nutrient that our physicians look at to determine the D-nutrition status.

Vitamin K complements Vitamin-D in controlling the disposition of Calcium bones, teeth thus preventing Calcium accumulation in kidney and blood vessels.

Boron supports the functions of Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin-D and healthy bones.

Per Vitamin D Council, “In order to receive the most health benefit from increased levels of vitamin D, the proper cofactors must be present in the body. Vitamin D has many cofactors, but the ones listed here are the most important, with magnesium topping the list: Magnesium, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Zinc and Boron.”

The following table lists several foods (comprehensive list) for different micronutrients for maximizing the performance of Vitamin-D.

Food Source of micronutrients for Vitamin-D3 Activation
Magnesium Boron Zinc Vitamin-K1
  RDI 350 mg RDI <20 mg RDI 15 mg RDI 80 microgram
Avocado Almonds Nuts Brocolli
Chickpeas Avocado Apple Asparagus
Figs Brazil nut Chickpeas Blueberries
Kale Broccoli Carrot Kale
Legumes Brusselsprout Dates Sauerkrout
Mackerel Celery Dried Apricot Spinach
Raspberries Chickpeas Grapes mustard green
Salmon Peanut Butter Honey Beef Liver
Sesame seeds Prunes Onions Chicken
Spinach raisins Oranges Porkchops
Tuna Hazelnuts Parsley cheeses

Pick and choose what you like. There are a lot more available in every section which you can search and find.

Steamed Healthy Raw Fish Preparation (Vitamin-D fortified oil)

Cooking raw fish precisely steaming in very little Vitamin-D fortified oil with magnesium-rich spice like poppy seed paste can be enticing to increase D nutrient in your body. It is a traditional Odisha (a state in India) cooking but has been modified to add gold winner refined sunflower oil (Vitamin-D fortified) from mustard oil. We in India cook small fishes like herring and mackerel with this kind of recipe. They are healthy and taste very good.


(5 servings)

  1. clean small boneless sardine 250 g
  2. poppy seeds-2 tbsp soaked overnight in water
  3. brown mustard seeds -1 tbsp-soaked overnight in water
  4. garlic pod-6
  5. turmeric powder-2 tsp
  6. red chili powder- 1 tsp
  7. cumin seed powder- 1 tsp
  8. salt- 2 teaspoon
  9. gold winner refined sunflower oil Vitamin-D fortified (you can replace it with any oil of your choice)- 2 tbsp
  10. large onion-1
  11. tomatoes- 2
  12. water- 200 mL
  13. cilantro or coriander leaves- 1 tbsp


  1. Marinate the fish with turmeric powder and salt (1 tablespoon) and keep it for 1 hour outside.
  2. During that time grind the already soaked mustard and poppy seeds with garlic to a thin paste.
  3. Cut onions into thin slices.
  4. Cut the tomatoes to small pieces.
  5. Mix the paste with the fish.
  6. Add sliced onions.
  7. Add cut tomatoes.
  8. Add cumin powder, red chili powder, rest of the salt and turmeric.
  9. Give a though mix to all the ingredients.
  10. Add 2 spoons of oil to a pan and heat it
  11. Add the fish mixture and spread it smoothly.
  12. Mix the content with ~200 mL water to the pan and mix it with the fish paste. fish curry rich in Vitamin-D
  13. Cover the pan and cook medium heat for 20 minutes checking after every 10 minutes.
  14. After it is done, sprinkle cut coriander leaves on the curry.
  15. Serve your healthy fish for with one feast of cooked brown rice for best taste.

Mushroom Soup


(2 servings)

  1. button mushroom – 200-250g
  2. 1/8 cup fresh coriander leaves
  3. onion -1 medium
  4. garlic pods -2-3
  5. 1/2 spoon tomato paste
  6. black peppercorns -1tsp
  7. salt as needed
  8. olive oil -1 tbsp
  9. clarified butter -1 tsp
  10. whole Milk -/2 cup
  11. cashew nuts whole-4
  12. almond-4
  13. coconut shredded- 4 tbsp


  1. Pick fresh mushrooms. Clean them by wiping off with a paper towel.
  2. Rinse them in cold water and dry them with a paper towel
  3. Cut the onion to small pieces and mushrooms lengthwise.
  4. Then slice the garlic.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium heat, add olive oil.
  6. To the hot oil add garlic, fry until browned
  7. Then add onion, sauté till they become translucent. Add tomato paste and stir it well.
  8. Then add mushroom, peppercorns, sauté well until the water oozes out from the mushrooms.
  9. Add salt to the fairly dry mushrooms.
  10. Take ~30 gm out and save it for further garnishing.
  11. Then pour 2 cups of water, get it to boil and shimmer ~10 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked.
  12. Let the curry cool for a few minutes then transfer to the blender. Mushroom Soup
  13. Blend in batches until smooth.
  14. Add cashews, almonds, and coconut to the blend and grind them all until smooth
  15. Then return to the pan over low heat, add clarified butter, milk, cook until heated through.
  16. Add the slurry from step-13 to the hot milk. Shimmer it 5 minutes. Add water if necessary
  17. Garnish the soup with reserved mushroom and coriander leaves.
  18. The tasty creamy mushroom soup is ready to serve, Serve hot.

Lift-up Vitamin-D Level- Prevent and Cure Serious Symptoms

Plan your meal to include Vitamin-D2/D3 from all sources. You might have to change the grocery list. With food, it is hard to overload your body with Vitamin-D. Thinking food as your medicine will help heal low D-level. In terms of your overall health, the benefit you get is huge. It helps you protect your immune system, bone loss, prevent cancer and several other diseases. There is no substitute for better health.

It takes time to prove every scientific theory but diseases would not wait.

If you care and afford wild caught Salmon 2 times a week along with some recommended vegetables, it will take you a long way. Have Vitamin-D rich breakfast and some nuts and fruits for snack.

Make sure you eat magnesium rich food. Magnesium helps activate Vitamin-D to its active form.

None of us want life-threatening diseases in our life. The prevention and cure of many serious symptoms are mostly on our hands and food helps positively.

Anusuya Choudhury


  1. Well it seems fish and mushrooms are the go to to increase the vitamin D intake.  Its articles like this that are very important because I believe if its not in front of our faces we tend to ignore or forget the fact that we need to take care of our selves.

    Thank you for taking the time to do such great research and for taking the time to educate us.  I look forward to reading more of your writings


    • Hey Dale,

      Thank you for taking the time to read the post. I am glad that this article helped you.

      Many things pass by us and it is hard to keep up for any of us. I feel like I read and research and upgrade my knowledge everyday. 

      Thank you and I look forward for your interaction with my blogs.

      Take care, Anusuya

  2. Interesting. I was always under the impression that Vitamin D, and all forms of it, come from the sun. I never realized that mushrooms were such a great source of D12, so will definitely be adding this yummy food to my diet more. Does this include any mushrooms, or a specific type of mushroom?

    Also I see you say that sitting in the sun is not enough as your body also needs zinc, magnesium and vitamin K to absorb properly. 

    The recipes are great and I think I am going to try the mushroom soup tonight for my family, as the rainy weather we have currently gives me a good excuse to make soup which is my favorite dinner.

    • Hey Michel,

      Thank you for stopping by and taking your time to read the post. There are Vit-D2 mushrooms specifically available in stores. These mushrooms are exposed to sunlight or other source of UVB producing light. 

      Sunlight, as you have said is the major source of producing vitamin-D. Current research has established that Magnesium is the key for Vit-D activation and it is vital to have it as supplement and here in this case from foods containing magnesium.

      If you are trying mushroom soup, I recommend getting the fresh mushrooms for this purpose. I hope you will enjoy it.

      Take care, Anusuya

  3. I have been preaching Vitamin D for years, and making my adult children take supplements daily.  We are all so Vitamin D deficient, and I love your article because you go into such great detail about the foods that we can eat for the magnesium and Vitamin D and getting enough of all of them.  Recipes, too.  They look so delicious.  I just wanted to pop in here and thank you for putting together this great article about something I really care about.  Thanks.

    • Hey Babsie,

      It was a pleasure interacting with you having so much knowledge and awareness about Vitamin-D. Thank you for your time reading the article. I am glad you have found it informative. Yes, without magnesium one can not fully utilize Vitamin-D we eat or get from sun. Lucking we have plenty of magnesium rich foods to use.

      Both the pictures of the fish curry and soup are from my own kitchen. I tested my ingredients and the taste of my product before I published. They both are delicious.

      Thank you again,


  4. Thank you for the very informative post , I have to admit that I didn’t actually realize there were so many food sources that you could get vitamin D from . I knew that milk and dairy was a good source but not aware of the others you mentioned or that Magnesium helps activate Vitamin-D. I have copied your Mushroom soup recipe and plan to make it in the next few days . Just wondering does the recipe double OK ,as I have a family of 4 ? 

    • Hey Rick,

      Thank you for taking the time to go through the article. There are many fishes which have different levels of Vitamin-D. Mushrooms with Vitamin-D are good to help with Vit-D level.

      The mushroom soup recipe works for two. It should scale up to cover 4 people. Pick the fresh mushroom with no dirty spots. That is the key.  I hope you and family will enjoy a winter evening with this delicious warm creamy soup.


  5. Thanks for sharing this informative and educative post.Generally speaking we all based our concern on foods that gave us energy so we will have enough energy to do our work and we concentrate on protein also and pay less concern to others.You have really educate me on vitamin D . This is what everyone should know.It s said to get vitamin D from the sun can we substitute it instead for vitamin D foods.

    • Hey Lok,

      Thank you for taking the time to read the post. I agree we care more for protein diet and we should. There were studies about Vitamin-D and protein together. In nutshell we need protein and sufficient Vitamin-D for a healthy body.

      Sun exposure seems to be “mandatory” per research. The skeletal health and several cancers can be prevented to a certain degree only with sensible sun exposure which the supplements can not do. This is an important information I found from my research.

      Vitamin-D rich foods can definitely lift your level but would not be a substitute of Sunlight.

      Take care, Anusuya

  6. It appears that most of the world,s population, suffers from a lack of Vitamin D, which can be easily remedied.

    Fish it seems, contain this vitamin, and are the best source of  obtaining it.

    The body however, also needs  , Magnesium ,Zinc,Boron, and vitamin K to  absorb  vitamin D, in order to use it beneficially.

    These are found in various Vegetables, Fruits, and Animal products.

    Why is it, that we are not made aware, of this important deficiency, and the simple food remedies to correct it?

    Many people, myself included take multivitamins and think that this is all we need. We need to be informed of this important omission so we can correct it.

    • Hey Robert,

      Thank you taking the time to read the article. You have asked a valid question. I have done quite a bit of research in this field because I had only 4 ng/ mL (severely deficient).

      The answer to you question and to everyone who has this question is Vitamin-D and its association to health is an emerging field. Once known for preventing and curing rickets, research has taken it to a level that Vitamin-D is associated with every cell of the body and more than 200 symptoms are related to it.

      Thus the Institute of medicine and Vitamin-D council has raised the minimum level of Vitamin-D for the human to ensure a good health. They raise it every couple of years. Three years back it was 20 ng/ mL and now it is 30-50. Some experts even suggest 100 ng/ mL. That tells us we have big margin to get overdosed with Vitamin-D. 

      That is the reason all of a sudden so many people became deficient. i have a chart in my previous blog about the levels.

       As always it is better to check the D-nutrient level during regular physical or may be twice a year and get recommendation from your doctor.

      Good news is one can fill up the level with sensible sun exposure, supplements, foods and exercise. 

      I hope I answered all your questions. 

      Take care, Anusuya

  7. Great articles! I had on idea as to the importance of Vitamin D, After reading about the effects of vitamin D deficiency I think I will be checking your website on a regular basis, Living in the Pacific Northwest there are times when getting enough sun can be a challenge. The information about foods that are a good source of Vitamin D is a great help because I am terrible at taking pills on a regular basis. Do you have any recommendations as to a good Liquid source of Vitamin D?

    Thanks again, Dennis

    • Hey Dennis,

      Thank you for taking time to read the article. I am glad to know that you have realized the importance of Vitamin-D in our body which I was not 2 years back. Many of us are still unaware of it. i would recommend you to read few other articles I have posted. Vitamin-D food along with exercise can help tremendously. There are multiple brands of liquid Vitamin-D available at Amazon. I am on tablets recommended by my doctor and can not really suggest you a particular brand at this time. 

      Being in pacific Northwest, where I was for brief 4 + years, I got my D-level quite low at that time which of course added to my previous deficiency level. I remember getting sun breaks at times with many days of grey skies. Plan your meals with Vitamin-D to help your health.

      Take care, Anusuya

  8. Great article! The place I live usually receives less amount of sunlight, which as we all know is the natural source of Vitamin-D, during winter season. Can these food be considered as substitute for natural source?

    • Dear Ivy,

      Food can help but can not substitute Vit-D obtained from sun exposure. Sun exposure is mandatory per research because it can help cure some cancer and builds your musculoskeletal health which food cannot do.
      There are UV-B radiation lights specifically designed to be used in the absence and UV lights one can expose to.

      Made by Sperti, the fluorescent sunlamp produces high-intensity ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays that trigger vitamin D production in the skin. This light source costs ~$449.00 on sale now and available at Amazon. There are other sunlamps but they are not capable of generating the wavelength of energy to produce D on the skin.
      Thank you for stopping by and asking a very good question.

  9. Hi there!

    Thanks for the comprehensive information about vitamin D. Your article taught me a lot about the food sources of the said vitamin, as well as other nutrients that can help to activate it. As we all know, Vit. D keeps us away from certain types of bone disorder and calcium deficiency. It also reduces the risk of cavities and respiratory infections. 

    I am grateful that you only not provided us with a list of food but delicious recipes as well so we can incorporate it in our daily meal. It’s also good to know that the way we cook our food determines how much vitamins are actually being absorbed by the body. I’ll keep your recipes and detailed information as well.

    • Thank you, dear.

      I am glad that you found my article informative. Yes, we have to keep up our level and eating the foods that provide Vit-D steps forward in the right direction.

  10. I have had skin problems for most of my life, I have suffered with acne, not just as a teenager but I also have adult acne, I’m pleased to say it isn’t as bad now has it was, but I still have occasional flare ups, I have always been led to believe that vitamin A among other minerals was beneficial for skin and related skin problems, I never released that vitamin D was important, in fact, I always believed vitamin D is obtained from the sun, thank you for sharing this interesting and informative article, I have taken some helpful and educational lessons from it. 

    • Hi Russ,

      I am glad to know that you only get occasional flare-ups.

      I would encourage you to go to my website and read about  

      “Vitamin-D for Acne-All-in-one box” It may help you.

      I appreciate your time reading the article.

  11. I live in a country where summer is just as short of 2 months! and the sun doesn´t shine as much as we wanted to. I have been taking vitamin d for over a year now because I suffered vitamin D deficiency for quite some time. 

    I will try the options you have mentioned in this article. Thanks for sharing! I can totally relate to this article as I have been vitamin D deficient for over a year.

    • Hi Gillian,

      Thank you for sharing your opinion. Most of us are vitamin deficient these days because the Institute of Medine has increased the optimal D-level.

      I don’t have many months of the sun either and I use a maintenance dose daily to keep me up.

      It is a critical nutrient and is related to numerous diseases.

  12. Wow .. What a fantastic Article Anusuya. I had no idea that we could get our vitamin D requirements from food we eat. I always thought that sunlight was the only way to achieve significant levels. I also had no idea that there was a D2 and D3 needed. Having to have vitamin activated by minerals such as Magnesium was also new to me. I have learned much from your blog and I’m grateful for that. The good thing is that I love eating fish and mushrooms so I think that in the first instant I’ll increase my use of these. But my wife is a different story,she dislikes fish and isn’t to keen on Mushrooms. Can you recommend a good supplement for her. Thanks Jim 

    • Hi Jim,

      I am so happy you read through my article and hopefully, it helped you increase awareness. ~Five years back I had 4 ng/ mL Vitamin-D and with prescription Vit-D3/ diet and exercise I recovered quite a bit. I still use a maintenance dose daily. For that, my doctor recommended me to use a 2000IU Vitamin-D3 capsule from over the counter.

      I would recommend for Vitamin-D check for your wife and follow up from there. 

      Thank you for taking the time to read the article.

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