Vitamin D is otherwise known as "the sunshine vitamin" due to the fact that of all the sources of Vitamin D the very best for us humans is exposure to the sun's UVB rays. Besides this, there are many other good sources although the sad truth is that most food items contain relatively little vitamin D naturally, and much of the vitamin D found in food sources results from fortification. Needless to say, we can fortify ourselves with pharmaceutical Vitamin D supplements too.
As the best source of Vitamin D is sunlight, if you can get out at noon when the sun's UVB rays are their most direct for fifteen to twenty minutes, with as little clothes on as possible, you will make a really healthy amount of Vitamin D from the sun. I'm not advocating everyone strips off in their lunch break and stands around naked, although that would be quite a statement! What I am advocating is sensible exposure to the sun's rays in such a way that you do not get a sun burn, but you do get the all important immunity benefits from having decent Vit D levels in your system.
One cannot obtain any level of Vitamin D toxicity through excessive sun exposure. This is explained through a number of things that happen:
The only way to get to toxic levels of Vitamin D seems to be through supplemental intake from the pharmacy. Food is highly unlikely to ever contain enough to reach toxicity levels.
Vitamin D is predominantly found in animals and as Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, you find it is the fat of the animal and the organs. It is also quite high in butter fat and cream, When animals are eating organically and not force fed a whole heap of synthetic, chemical and doctored grains, you will find things such as deep dark orange egg yolks or even butter with an orange tinge to it. These are good sources of Vitamin D and the lesser pale yellow versions not as high.
So, good sources of vitamin D found in food include fish such as salmon and tuna, fish liver oil, beef liver, butter, cheese and egg yolks. Many food items are fortified with vitamin D, including breakfast cereals, calcium-fortified fruit juices and fortified milk. When it comes to eating fortified foods such as these, I would rather recommend you go and get a supplement from the pharmacy as this is more pure and whole and you don't then have to eat processed cereals.
It's all very well finding good sources of Vitamin D, but it then helps to know how much one needs to take? The disease-fighting properties of vitamin D are becoming increasingly clear, but it's actually not that easy to get enough of this crucial nutrient without supplementation. If, like all too many people these days, you avoid being outdoors in the sunshine, or make sure to be covered up with clothing or sunscreen in an effort to prevent skin cancer, you will forego the vitamin D-producing benefits of natural sunlight.
Insufficient vitamin D, in fact, is associated with a higher incidence of chronic and life-threatening conditions such as various cancers, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and cognitive decline. Healthy amounts can impede inflammation, a component of many illnesses, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Recommended doses today vary quite considerably from one country to another and one doctor to another, but it seems the best starting place is to find out what level of Vit D you have in your blood. After your blood test you will know if you are radically low and requiring high doses of supplementation, or perhaps only marginally low and desiring to be a little higher. IN the first instance get your doctor to prescribe a supplementation routine and in the second perhaps just focus on seeking out foods containing Vitamin D3 to boost your levels. In both instances get into the sun more!
Remember that you cannot get into toxic levels of Vitamin D through exposure to the sun, but taking supplements can end up with a toxic result if not done correctly.
Unfortunately, there are very few foods found in nature that contain vitamin D so dietary sources of vitamin D are limited. The flesh of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. These are all in the form of vitamin D3 and its metabolite 25(OH)D3.
A growing number of foods are being analyzed for vitamin D content. Hopefully more will be discovered that contain Vitamin D. Simpler and faster methods to measure the vitamin D content in foods are also being investigated. Soon we are likely to have standard reference materials for vitamin D on our foods to help with accurate measurements. However, as with most foods, the more natural, organic or wild sourced the better the quality is likely to be.
Strengthening Knowledge and Understanding of Dietary Supplements
Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.