Learn more about the foods that will help keep your bones strong, prevent chronic disease and boost your mood—even during those dreary winter months.

Lauren Wicks
November 08, 2019

Vitamin D is a pretty fascinating nutrient, because, to begin with, it's not even a vitamin. It's a prohormone—a substance our bodies convert into hormones for various uses. Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium, may reduce our risk of certain chronic diseases and may minimize your risk of developing mental illness.

Related: 7 Foods to Boost Your Mood

Unlike many of the other vitamins our bodies need, most of our daily vitamin D needs can actually come from sunlight. However, about 10% of our vitamin D needs aren't met through this process, so we need to get this portion through food—20 mcg for children over 4 and adults. Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D. and digital nutrition editor for EatingWell, says some of us live in climates where it isn't especially sunny certain times of the year, and we have to work a little harder to get what we need—especially in the winter.

Related: 7 Sneaky Signs You're Not Eating Enough Carbs

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of food sources of vitamin D out there, and it can be hard to get enough through diet alone. An estimated forty percent of Americans have a deficiency—which can put you at risk for depression, heart disease, osteoporosis and even obesity. Eggs are a common go-to for those looking to boost their Vitamin D levels, as one large egg has 10% of our daily needs. However, there are plenty of other delicious foods that give you even more bang for your vitamin D buck. Beat the blues, fight disease and keep your body strong with these six foods with more vitamin D than an egg:

Sardines

Sardines are one of those foods you probably aren't eating, but should consider adding to your diet. Just two sardines pack 12% of your daily vitamin D needs, and they offer much more nutritional value than that. They actually offer more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon, tuna or pretty much any other food. Sardines are also a great sustainable seafood option, they're inexpensive and are a perfect pantry staple for boosting the nutrition of a 20-minute meal.

View Recipe: Greek Salad with Sardines for Two

Yogurt

There are several fortified options on this list, but that doesn't make them any less important. Yogurt is often fortified with vitamin D to help us reach our daily recommendation, but not all brands are—in fact, popular brands such as Chobani and Siggi's don't fortify their products.

Typically, you'll find a 6-ounce container has 20 percent of your daily needs. Whether you like whole milk, 2% or nonfat, there's likely a vitamin D-fortified option out there. Just make sure to watch out for high levels of added sugar along the way and choose plain over flavored yogurt.

View Recipe: Ricotta & Yogurt Parfait

Milk

Milk is another great fortified source of vitamin D—and you'll rarely find one that isn't. One cup of milk packs between 29-31% of the daily vitamin D recommendation, so drink up! Milk is also a good source of vegetarian protein and calcium to keep you strong.

If you've ditched dairy or have an allergy or intolerance, some brands of alternative milks do fortify their products with vitamin D—but not all. Silk is a good option for fortified milk alternatives—offering 15% of the daily value per cup.

View Recipe: Strawberry-Banana-Green Smoothie

Canned Tuna

Just 3 ounces of canned tuna fish offers nearly 40 percent of your daily vitamin D needs—just look for Skipjack and Yellowfin varieties. Albacore is still a good source, however, with 15% of your daily needs. Canned tuna is also a stellar source of selenium and an inexpensive protein source—a win-win in our book.

View Recipe: Quick Tuna Burgers

Orange Juice

Orange juice seems like an odd choice amongst the dairy products and oily fish, but it is an excellent fortified source of vitamin D. Not all orange juice brands fortify their beverages with vitamin D, but those that do typically give you a 34% daily dose in one cup! Orange juice is also a good source of potassium and an excellent source of Vitamin C, so it makes a great addition to your morning smoothie.

View Recipe: Carrot-Orange Juice

Salmon

Salmon is a nutritional powerhouse and should definitely find its place on your plate a few times a month, if possible. Just 3 ounces of sockeye salmon gives you 112% of your daily goal for vitamin D. Whether you eat it from a can or as a fillet from the supermarket, salmon is a great choice for heart-healthy fats and protein. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fats, which have been shown to boost our brain, heart and skin health.

View Recipe: Roasted Salmon with Smoky Chickpeas & Greens

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