What are the Best Natural Sources of Vitamin D? (with pictures)

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Among all the natural sources of vitamin D, sunlight is largely considered the best. Other natural sources include vitamin D foods, such as salmon, eggs, and beef liver. The fat soluble vitamin is also available as a dietary supplement.

Shiitake mushrooms are high in vitamin D.
Shiitake mushrooms are high in vitamin D.

As sunlight strikes human skin, a synthesis of vitamin D occurs. This exposure to sunlight typically can provide humans with a sufficient amount of their recommended daily allowance of the nutrient. People with sensitive skin or who otherwise are unable to obtain enough sun exposure may seek several other natural sources of vitamin D.

Most natural sources of vitamin D come from animal products. The majority of these are fish. Pure, unrefined cod liver oil has the highest source of vitamin D among all foods. One serving amounts to over 300 percent of one's daily value of the nutrient. Most refined cod liver products, however, are stripped of vitamin D.

Oyster mushrooms contain vitamin D.
Oyster mushrooms contain vitamin D.

Cooked salmon contains nearly 100 percent of one's daily value of vitamin D. A serving of mackerel provides a similar amount. Other natural sources of vitamin D from fish can be found in sardines and tuna fish, which provide up to 70 to 50 percent of one's daily vitamin D needs, respectively.

Eel is also considered to be a good source of vitamin D. Eel provides up to 25 percent of one's daily allowance of vitamin D. For those who do not enjoy eating fish, beef liver is another vitamin D food. Liver, however, only contains up to 12 percent of a human's daily vitamin D needs.

Salmon contains vitamin D.
Salmon contains vitamin D.

Vegetarians can get some of their daily vitamin D needs from fresh eggs. Vitamin D is only found in egg yolks, however, so eating egg whites only will not provide the nutrient. One whole egg only contains up to 6 percent of the recommended daily amount of the nutrient; hence, vegetarians may wish to combine vitamin D fortified foods into their diets as well.

The only known vegan vitamin D food is the mushroom. Mushrooms can provide between 4 and 100 percent of one's daily vitamin D needs. This depends upon whether or not the mushrooms have been exposed to ultraviolet light.

Sunlight aids the natural production of vitamin D in human skin.
Sunlight aids the natural production of vitamin D in human skin.

Several fortified vegetarian sources of the vitamin are available. These, however, are not considered natural sources of vitamin D. Some foods that have been enriched with the vitamin include milk, butter, cheese, orange juice, and cereal. Foods made with fortified milk, such as yogurt and pudding, can also be good sources of vitamin D.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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    • Shiitake mushrooms are high in vitamin D.
      Shiitake mushrooms are high in vitamin D.
    • Oyster mushrooms contain vitamin D.
      Oyster mushrooms contain vitamin D.
    • Salmon contains vitamin D.
      Salmon contains vitamin D.
    • Sunlight aids the natural production of vitamin D in human skin.
      Sunlight aids the natural production of vitamin D in human skin.
    • Eggs are a natural source of vitamin D.
      Eggs are a natural source of vitamin D.
    • Sardines -- a type of small fish in the herring family -- are rich in calcium and other minerals, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.
      Sardines -- a type of small fish in the herring family -- are rich in calcium and other minerals, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.
    • According to experts, just 5 to 30 minutes of daily sun exposure can help the body generate a sufficient amount of vitamin D.
      According to experts, just 5 to 30 minutes of daily sun exposure can help the body generate a sufficient amount of vitamin D.