Vitamin D-rich foods to incorporate into your diet — and a bonus breakfast recipe!

Adriana Urbina is an In The Know cooking contributor. Follow her on Instagram and visit her website for more.

In the colder months, it’s especially difficult to get the vitamins and sunshine you need. So we should be paying more attention than ever to what we eat day-to-day to ensure we are getting enough fuel. 

Vitamin D has several important functions, perhaps its most vital being the ability to help regulate calcium absorption and facilitate normal immune system function. Getting enough vitamin D is important for the typical growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance to certain diseases.

To get more vitamin D during these months when our exposure to the sun diminishes, I recommend simply adding more foods to your diet that are packed with vitamin D. But if you’d prefer to take supplements instead, take into account that vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it doesn’t dissolve in water, so it’s best absorbed into your bloodstream when paired with high-fat foods. For this reason, it’s recommended you take vitamin D supplements with a meal to enhance absorption.

See below for the list of my favorite foods with high levels of vitamin D:

Eggs 

People tend to avoid eating egg yolks because they think they contain too much fat. While egg whites are high in protein, the fatty yolks also have essential vitamins and minerals. 

Cheese 

Cheese is among the best foods rich in vitamin D. It’s valued for its high content of phosphorus, fat, protein, vitamins and calcium. You can eat cheese raw or add it to your cooked dishes.

Fatty Fish 

Fish like sardines, mackerel and trout can naturally store vitamin D in their liver and fat tissues. You can eat fish boiled, toasted, pickled and in a wide variety of dishes. 

Cod Liver Oil 

Cod liver oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have perceived health benefits like reducing inflammation and lowering your blood pressure. In addition, it helps maintain healthy bones, relieves joint pain, aids in treating rickets and improves eye health. 

Pork 

Pork is a vitamin D-rich food that also packs in many other nutrients. You can eat freshly cooked or preserved pork.

Yogurt 

Yogurt is an excellent choice for enrichment as it’s also high in calcium, protein and gut-friendly bacteria. Fortified yogurt improves vitamin D levels and offers many health benefits, too. In addition to eating my yogurt with fruit and seeds, I also use it to make curries, soups and sauces. 

Tuna 

Tuna is counted as one of the most valuable foods containing vitamin D. It’s worth noting, though, that levels of vitamin D in tuna vary depending on the type. You can make tuna salad drizzled with olive oil, or you can boil or stir-fry it and eat it with bread. 

Salmon 

Salmon is a fatty fish high in vitamin D. It is also high in omega-3 fatty acids. You can prepare it in a variety of different ways depending on your preference. Try salmon with some grilled or baked vegetables for a healthier dinner option. 

Shrimp 

Shrimp also contains minerals and vitamins such as vitamin D, vitamin B12 and vitamin B3. You can eat them steamed or boiled.

Spinach 

If you are a leafy green veggie-lover, then spinach is a great option for getting some vitamin D. Spinach is an excellent source of quick energy and is a delicious ingredient to add to a variety of dishes. Roughly one cup of cooked spinach contains 25% of your necessary daily intake of calcium, iron, vitamin A and fiber. 

Orange 

There are limited options of fruits that contain high levels of vitamin D, but oranges (or orange juice) are a great option for delivering vitamin D, as well as other nutrients like calcium. 

Bananas 

While bananas aren’t super high in vitamin D, they do provide a great source of magnesium, which helps activate vitamin D in the body.

As a bonus, I’m leaving you one of my favorite and easiest breakfast ideas using bananas. I tend to quadruple this recipe when I make it so that I can leave it in my fridge and have it every morning of the week.

Banana Split Kefir Bowl

Credit: Adriana Urbina

Ingredients: 

  • 1 banana, sliced 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (coconut oil also works)
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey (agave also works) 
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon 
  • 1 lime, zested
  • Yogurt, kefir or preferred breakfast vehicle

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of oil, honey and cinnamon together before adding the banana slices to the mixture.
  2. Heat the remaining oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add coated banana slices to the pan and sear on both sides for 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Remove and add the zest of one lime. Serve as is or cool down and serve over yogurt, kefir or anything you like.

If you enjoyed this story, check out Adriana Urbina’s recipe for a delicious root veggie stew!

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