Knowing your Vitamin D sources is critical as there are very few foods that naturally contain Vitamin D. Several recent studies show that a substantial amount of children and adults are Vitamin D deficient. Read here to find out how you can obtain Vitamin D for your health.
Sunlight and Artificial UVB rays
There are 4 main sources
of vitamin D:
Food Sources of vitamin D
In nature, there are very few dietary sources of Vitamin D. See Table below.
|Dietary Source||Approximate Vitamin D₂ and D₃ Content*|
|Natural common dietary sources|
|Salmon, Fresh Wild, 3.5oz (~100 grams)||600-1000 IU of vitamin D₃|
|Salmon, Fresh Farmed, 3.5oz (~100 grams)||100-250 IU of vitamin D₂ or D₃|
|Salmon, canned, 3.5oz (~100 grams)||300-600 IU of vitamin D₃|
|Sardines, canned, 3.5oz (~100 grams)||300 IU of vitamin D₃|
|Tuna, canned, 3.6 oz (~100 grams)||230 IU of vitamin D₃|
|Shiitake Mushrooms, fresh, 3.5 oz (~100 grams)||100 IU of vitamin D₂|
|Shiitake Mushrooms, sun-dried, 3.5 oz (~100 grams)||640 IU of vitamin D₂|
|Egg yolk, one||20 IU of vitamin D₂ or D₃|
|Fortified dietary sources|
|**All cow’s milk (fortified), 250 mL||98 IU of vitamin D₃|
|Infant formula (fortified), 250 mL||100 IU of vitamin D₃|
|Margarine (fortified), 1 tsp||25 IU of vitamin D₃|
|Yogurt (fortified), 8oz (~230 mL)||100 IU of vitamin D₃|
|Cheeses (fortified), 3.5 oz (~100 grams)||100 IU of vitamin D₃|
|Breakfast cereals (fortified), average serving size||40-50 IU of vitamin D₃|
|***Fortified plant-based beverage, 250 mL||80 IU of vitamin D₃|
* 1 ųg (mcg) = 40 IU of vitamin D, when the terms calciferol or ergocalciferol are used, the product usually contains vitamin D₂; when the term cholecalciferol is used, the product usually contains vitamin D₃
**Cow’s milk is generally not recommended until at least 9 to 12 months of age
***Vegetarian beverages are inappropriate alternatives to breast milk, infant formula or cow’s milk in the first 2 years of life.
The table below lists some standard vitamin D supplements on the Canadian Market:
|Supplement||Vitamin D content AA|
|Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)||50,000 IU vitamin D₂/ capsule
8,000 IU vitamin D₂ / mL liquid
|Over the Counter (Combination vitamins)|
|Multivitamin||400 IU of vitamin D₃|
|Cod Liver Oil (1tsp – 5mL) B||453 IU of vitamin D₃|
|Calcium + vitamin D||400 IU of vitamin D₃(Caltrate®)|
|Over the Counter (Vitamin D only preparations)|
(Baby Ddrops® and Kids Ddrops® 400 IU and 1,000 IU)
|400 IU of vitamin D₃ /drop (Baby Ddrops®)
400 IU of vitamin D₃/1mL (convention water-based drops)
1000 IU of vitamin D₃/ 5 mL (Quest – My little Sunshine®)
1,000 IU of vitamin D₃/drop (Ddrops® 1,000IU)
|Capsules||400 IU of vitamin D₃/capsule
800 IU of vitamin D₃/capsule
1,000 IU of vitamin D₃/capsule
Adapted from Health Canada 2004, Holick, MF 2007, Vieth, R 2005, Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH 2008.
A 1 ųg (mcg) = 40 IU of vitamin D, when the terms calciferol or ergocalciferol are used, the product usually contains vitamin D2; when the term cholecalciferol is used, the product usually contains vitamin D3. D3 is the more potent and active form of vitamin D
B Intakes of Cod Liver Oil 1 tsp and over contain levels of vitamin A that are higher than the RDA of 3,000 IU for adults 19 years and older
1Vieth R. Vitamin D supplementation, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and safety. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:842-56.
2The International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group on artificial ultraviolet (UV) light and skin cancer "The association of use of sunbeds with cutaneous malignant melanoma and other skin cancers: A systematic review.” International Journal of Cancer. 2007 March 1;120:111-1122.
3Canadian Cancer Society. Protect Yourself from the Sun.
4Health Canada, www.healthcanada.ca/nutrition
5Health Canada, www.healthcanada.ca/nutrition
6Lu Z, Chen TC, Zhang A, Persons KS, Kohn N, Berkowitz R, Martinello S, Holick MF. An evaluation of the vitamin D(3) content in fish: Is the vitamin D content adequate to satisfy the dietary requirement for vitamin D? J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Jan 29.
7Holick, MF. Vitamin D Deficiency. New England Journal of Medicine 2007;357: 266-281
8Vitamin D Supplementation for Breastfed infants; 2004 Health Canada Recommendation
9Vieth R. The Pharmacology of Vitamin D, including Fortification Strategies. In: Feldman D, Glorieux F, Pike JW eds. Vitamin D. New York: Elsevier 2005: 995-1015.
10Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health 12/11/2008.