Vitamin D from food containing vitamin D, either naturally or fortified;
Can I get vitamin D from what I eat and drink?
You will get some vitamin D from the foods listed in the table below although you need to be careful about the amount of oily fish, liver and processed meat, such as sausages (high in salt and fat), that you have on a regular basis.
It’s important to have no more than 4 portions of oily fish a week because of potential pollutants, and only two portions a week if you are pregnant or trying to conceive (one portion is 140 grams of fish).
Liver contains high levels of a type of vitamin A called retinol which can be harmful for bones in excessive amounts*. You should limit portions of liver to once a week especially if you are over 50 and avoid liver if you are pregnant as too much vitamin A can harm the unborn child. Even cod liver oil contains vitamin A and so taking it is probably not a good way to get vitamin D – you would need a high dose oil to get sufficient vitamin D and this risks getting too much vitamin A (retinol) . If you take cod or other liver oils for other health reasons, make sure the type of vitamin A* it provides, called retinol, is no higher than 1.500 micrograms per day.
*For more information see our fact sheet Further Food Facts
What about fortified foods?
Many foods, such as drinks yoghurts or cereals, have vitamin D added to them. The range of foods specially fortified with vitamin D is increasing (such as some yoghurt and bread products and specially processed mushrooms). This can be a convenient way of increasing your intake although it’s important to remember it’s a well-balanced diet that provides the range of nutrients to keep bones strong, not just one added mineral or vitamin. Be careful you still eat healthily with plenty of unprocessed foods and fresh fruit and vegetables. Research is needed to prove that vitamin D in bread made with specially enriched yeast (as opposed to added vitamin D) is absorbed by the body .
We all know calcium is good for bones, but did you know you also need vitamin D to help your body absorb calcium in order to really make your bones strong?
It is not usually possible to obtain all the vitamin D you need from food alone. Including vitamin D-rich foods in your diet will make a valuable contribution to the vitamin D you get from the sun. Our handy food chooser will help you get more into your diet every day.
- Foods providing around 20 micrograms of vitamin D per average portion
Grilled herring * 1 portion (119g)
- Foods providing around 12–13 micrograms of vitamin D per average portion
Pink salmon, canned in brine & drained * 1 small can (100g) Grilled salmon * 1 portion (170g) Grilled kipper fillet * 1 portion (130g) Grilled rainbow trout fillet * 1 portion (155g) Smoked mackerel * 1 portion (150g)
- Foods providing around 3–4 micrograms of vitamin D per average portion
Some malted hot drinks (check labelling) 1 mug (25g) Crab, cooked * 1 small can (75g) Tinned sardines in tomato sauce * 1 small can (100g) Scrambled eggs / plain omelette 2 eggs (120g)
- Foods providing around 1–2 micrograms of vitamin D per average portion
Build-up powdered sachet (shake) 1 sachet (38g) Soya milk (fortified) 1 glass (200ml) Boiled chicken’s egg 1 egg without shell (50g) Cornflakes (fortified)/bran flakes (fortified) 1 portion (30g)
- Foods providing around 0.5 micrograms vitamin D per average portion
Pork chop, grilled 1 chop excluding bone (75g) Corned beef 1 thick slice (50g) Grilled bacon rashers 2 middle rashers (80g) Low-fat spread, polyunsaturated (fortified) 1 teaspoon (5g) Baking fat/margarine 1 teaspoon (5g) Pork sausages, grilled or fried * 1 sausage (40g) Lamb’s liver, fried * portion
You can also find vitamin D in specially fortified foods such as some yoghurt and bread products and specially processed mushrooms. Check the food’s label or packaging for more information.