To stay on track, say experts, it makes sense to boost your D wherever you can get it. While it’s usually best to choose foods rather than supplements to supply a desired nutrient, you don’t have many options with vitamin D. Perhaps because nature knew there would always be a backup source in sunlight, few foods naturally contain the vitamin: fatty fish, egg yolks and liver are good sources, but not exactly staples.
Fortified foods can help you close the gap. Among them, milk is the best known; through voluntary but nearly universal fortification, each 8-ounce glass provides 100 IU of vitamin D. That’s helpful, but few of us drink the two to six daily glasses it would take to meet even the minimal recommended intake. Be aware, too, that only milk is routinely fortified—not products made from milk, like cheese, ice cream or yogurt. However, some yogurt manufacturers are now opting to fortify, as are some brands of orange juice, breakfast cereals and margarines. Read labels and try to get a few servings of fortified foods each day, and expect a wider range of choices in the future, says Heaney. “I’d like to get as much vitamin D in the food chain as the regulators will accept.”