Skip to main content

Try these 10 foods high in vitamin D for healthy bones

Thinking about vitamin D levels and bone health? These foods will help you in those departments

Remember all those glasses of milk you chugged as a growing person, convinced they would keep your bones strong? Well, there’s truth to that, but vitamin D plays a major role too. On top of keeping your skeleton in good working order, it creates key hormones that help out with keeping inflammation in check and your immune system thriving.

Our bodies make vitamin D, especially when we’re hanging out in the sun (Hawaii, anyone?). For us mainlanders stuck in the throes of late fall and early winter, funding sunshine can be tough this time of year. Folks everywhere from Portland to New York City can go weeks without seeing the big glowing star in the sky. Fear not, there are other ways to keep your vitamin D levels where they ought to be.

Two fried eggs and salmon served on a blue oval plate.

Speaking of upping your intake, the current recommended daily value of vitamin D for most adults is 800 IU or 20μg. That said, your needs may be higher or lower, particularly if you don’t get much direct sun exposure. The tricky part is that very few foods are naturally high in vitamin D, so if you’re looking to boost your levels significantly you may want to consider a vitamin D supplement or light therapy. That said, the foods highest in vitamin D listed below are nutritious additions to your diet overall, and can help ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of vitamin D throughout the day.

Fatty Fish

Cooked salmon filets on a plate with oil and herb garnish.

Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are among the best dietary sources of vitamin D you can find. A six-ounce filet of salmon, for instance, provides nearly 150% of the daily value, with 28.4μg. Canned salmon is also a great option, as it provides about 91% of the daily value in a three-ounce serving and requires no cooking time at all. Canned salmon is also quite high in calcium, along with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, and protein. Other fatty fish including smoked whitefish, swordfish, rainbow trout, canned sardines, halibut, and tilapia each provide over 30% of the daily value of vitamin D, with trout, swordfish, and whitefish providing nearly 75%.

Cod Liver Oil

A spoonful of cod liver oil supplements on wooden background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This one might fall more into the supplement realm since it comes in capsules (unless you literally want to eat cod liver — which you totally can, it’s just not as readily available or, arguably, as easy to stomach). However, it’s worth noting here as another way to boost your dietary intake of vitamin D because it’s far and away the richest dietary source of vitamin D available. It’s also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, an added bonus when it comes to maintaining a healthy body and brain. Plus, WebMD notes these fatty acids can help prevent blood from clotting too readily and reduce pain and swelling. Cod liver oil is also used for things like heart health and arthritis; however, there isn’t extensive scientific evidence yet to support these uses.


Pile of button mushrooms.

Interestingly, just like our own bodies, mushrooms also create vitamin D when exposed to UV light. You can even boost the natural vitamin D content in mushrooms prior to eating them by leaving them in the sun for 20 minutes or so. Sun-exposed crimini mushrooms are the highest in vitamin D, with an impressive 27.8μg per cup, which is approximately 140% of the daily value. Portabello mushrooms exposed to sunlight are a close second, with about 122% per cup. These meaty fungi hold up well to grilling, roasting, and stuffing. Mushrooms in general are versatile and easy to cook with, with a variety of surprising uses so you never get bored.

Fortified Milk

Person pouring a glass of milk.

Most daily milk and alternative plant-based milk are now fortified with vitamin D since this nutrient is required to absorb calcium. An eight-ounce glass of low-fat milk has a little over 3μg (about 16% DV). Fortified soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, and coconut milk usually contain similar amounts, but you should refer to the nutrition facts and product labeling to determine the exact concentration.

Fortified Yogurt

Bowl of yogurt with oats and sliced strawberries.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Like milk, most yogurt in the United States is fortified with vitamin D. One cup of fortified yogurt contains about 3.2μg of vitamin D, which is 16% of the daily value. Look for yogurt that contains live, active probiotics, which will support your digestive health and immune system. It’s also best to avoid yogurts that contain a lot of added sugars, hormones, and antibiotics.


Cubed tofu on top of a salad.

Lots of people are reluctant to give tofu a try, but it’s actually relatively mild in flavor on its own. Rather, it takes on the flavors of whatever sauces or spices you cook it with. The majority of tofu is soaked in a calcium solution as it is formed, making it a great source of calcium for vegans and those on a plant-based diet. To aid the absorption of this calcium, most tofu is also fortified with vitamin D. One cup of fortified tofu provides about 5.7μg (28% DV) of vitamin D.

And, if you’ve been wanting to try soy but are concerned with potential health impacts, you’ll be glad to know that soy is a nutritious plant-based protein that’s generally fine for your health when consumed, like all foods, in moderation. Just remember that if you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet, you may need to take vitamin B supplements as those vitamins are difficult to obtain from plant-based sources.

Orange Juice

Glass of orange juice on a table.

Orange juice is naturally high in immune-supportive vitamin C and potassium, an essential electrolyte that helps regulate fluid levels, blood pressure, and electrical signals in the heart. In the United States, orange juice is also usually fortified with calcium and vitamin D, though the vitamin D level is usually less than that added to milk and plant-based milk. One cup typically provides about 2.5 μg, and there are a variety of delicious orange juice brands to choose from.

Fortified Cereal

Person holding a spoon over a bowl of breakfast cereal in milk.

Breakfast cereals can also be high in vitamin D, though like many foods on this list, this is synthetic vitamin D used to fortify the product. The specific vitamin D content depends on the cereal, but there are plenty of healthy cereals that provide about 15-18% of the daily value. Fortified cereals are also usually rich in iron, calcium, and vitamin B12, a key nutrient for energy production.


Grilled Pork chops with broccoli rabe.

There aren’t many foods on this list that are naturally high in vitamin D, as it’s not a nutrient found organically in many foods. That said, pork does contain some vitamin D. A pork chop contains about 10% of the daily value. Pork is also a great source of selenium, with each six-ounce chop providing about 80μg, which is nearly 150% of the daily value. You’ll also get a hefty dose of biotin, a vitamin crucial for supporting the health of your hair, skin, and nails, every time you cook up a delicious pork steak.


Fried sunny side up eggs.

Eggs aren’t particularly high in vitamin D, but relative to other unfortified foods, they are a good source (just make sure you’re eating the yolk, as that’s where you’ll find this vitamin). Each large egg has just over one microgram or about 6% of the daily value. However, don’t let these seemingly low numbers turn you away from this nutritious food. You’ll also get nutrients like protein, iron, and biotin.

This winter, as natural vitamin D intake becomes more challenging, look to the above foods to stay healthy. Your bones will thank you for it. And your immune system will be all the stronger as colds and flus swirl about.

Editors' Recommendations

Amber Sayer
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Amber Sayer is a fitness, nutrition, and wellness writer and editor, and was previously a Fitness Editor at Byrdie. She…
Need an energy boost? Try these 11 foods high in vitamin B12
Try incorporating these foods to meet your daily vitamin B12 needs
Seafood that is high in vitamin B12.

Fatigue, depression, and anemia are often blamed on an inadequate intake of iron, but a vitamin B12 deficiency may actually be to blame. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is required for energy production in cells, brain function, and the production of DNA and proteins. Because a long-term deficiency can lead to permanent damage to the central nervous system, making sure you eat plenty of foods high in vitamin B12 on a regular basis is important.
Vitamin B12 is produced by gut bacteria as a metabolic byproduct of fermenting certain foods; however, this production is insufficient to meet your needs, so B12 must also be consumed in the diet. Because vitamin B12 can only be found naturally in animal products, vegans and vegetarians are particularly prone to deficiencies. That said, there are foods that are usually fortified with vitamin B12, such as breakfast cereals, milk, yogurt, nutritional yeast, and milk alternatives like soy milk.
The daily value for vitamin B12 is 2.4 μg per day, and excess vitamin B12 is stored in the liver, which means you can build up a reserve to tap into on days when you don’t meet your needs. To ensure you’re firing on all cylinders and have the energy you need, be sure to stock up and make room on your plate for some of the following foods with B12.

Shellfish are rich in nutrients like protein and zinc, which are critical for immune health. They are also among the best sources of vitamin B12. For example, a 3-ounce serving of clams packs a whopping 84.1 μg or 3,502% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin B12. Oysters, mussels, and scallops are also great sources of vitamin B12, with a 3-ounce serving of each providing 24.5 μg (1,020% DV), 20.4 μg (850% DV), and 1.8 μg (76% DV), respectively.
When trying to visualize shellfish servings, three ounces is roughly equivalent to a mere three oysters, five mussels, or ten small scallops, which gives you a sense of how potent the vitamin B12 content is in shellfish.

Read more
The 10 best sweet treats for your Valentine’s Day celebration
These desserts are perfect for sharing with your Valentine
Inside Out Red Velvet Cookies

Some folks love Valentine's Day, spending the day with your special someone, fully embracing the hearts and flowers of it all. Others take great pride in declaring it a commercial greeting card holiday, and rebelling against the societal pressures set upon them. But no matter how you look at the day, it has one benefit for all: it's an excuse to make really good desserts. These 10 Valentine's Day dessert recipes range from entry-level to expert offering sugary bliss to cooks and bakers of any level. They also vary in prep and cook time, so no matter how busy you are you'll be able to whip one of these up no problem.

These Valentine's Day desserts would be great after a delicious Valentine's Day dinner or while watching a Valentine's Day movie.
Related Guides

Read more
Improve your skin and eyes with these delicious foods high in vitamin A
Want more vitamin A in your life? Here are some foods that are full of the essential nutrient, which is great for your overall health
Foods high in vitamin A.

Most of us know that vitamin A is good for us, helping our eyes function at their very best. But there are plenty of other benefits as well, from dealing with inflammation and promoting healthy skin cells, keeping cancer at bay and giving an assist to the immune system. Not enough? Well, vitamin A is good for your bones too.

Think of vitamin A as a two-pronged essential nutrient. There's preformed vitamin A found in things like fish and carotenoids, which tend to show up in produce and plant-based foods. What's the best way to get your daily intake (an estimated 900 mcg for the average man)? A well-balanced diet, of course. But there are definitely some things work targeting the next time you're at the farmer's market or grocery store.

Read more