Vitamin D3 Sources: Food and Sunlight
With the world suddenly alerted to the health crisis that is vitamin d deficiency epidemic, the subject of what natural sources contain vitamin d has become quite the hot topic.
First, let us clarify that not all vitamin d is the same. There are two main types of vitamin d3: Ergocalciferol (vitamin d2); and Cholecalciferol (vitamin d3). Cholecalciferol is the superior form of the nutrient. It is the naturally-occurring form of the vitamin, as opposed to D2, which is largely synthetic and found in most vitamin supplements. That said, the remainder of this article will focus on vitamin d3, as it is the one offering the major health benefits due to its superior bioavailability.
There are two primary vitamin d3 sources not including supplements.
Sources of Vitamin D3:
- Sunlight – Exposing one’s skin to direct sunlight is the most effective and efficient way of obtaining vitamin d3. Exposure to UV rays from direct sunlight triggers vitamin d3 production in the skin. Artificial lighting is not sufficient to initiate vitamin d synthesis in the skin. Some health experts have even gone so far as to recommend sunbathing in the nude as a means of obtaining healthy amounts of d3.
- Foods – Food generally has very little to offer in terms if vitamin d3 when compared with sunlight. However there are a few foods that provide small-to-moderate amounts of the nutrient:
- Fish: Not including Cod Liver Oil, since we’re not counting supplements, fish containing vitamin d3 include Herring, Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, Sardines and Eel.
- Milk and Fortified Foods: Milk supplies small amounts of vitamin d, as do fortified cereals and soy products.
- Eggs: Eggs provide roughly 20 iu (International Units) of vitamin d3 per egg. The nutrient is concentrated in the egg yolk, so one need not eat the entire egg if only seeking to obtain the food-based nutrient.
- Beef Liver: Beef liver can provide trace amounts of vitamin d3.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms can provide some amount of vitamin d, however, typically mushrooms offer vitamin d2 (ergocalciferol) as opposed to the more valuable cholecalciferol.
A blood test to determine calcidiol (25-hydroxy-vitamin D) levels is a common method used to determine whether one’s vitamin d levels are within healthy range, or if a vitamin d3 deficiency is present. For those who are deficient and averse to taking oral supplements, the above-listed foods along with plenty of sunlight can help correct the problem and restore your immune system to full capacity.