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How to get enough vitamin D without supplements

Ida ArdeleanJun 17, 2019, 6:57:49 AM

People living in the northern climate know how difficult it can be to keep on top of their vitamin D needs. In the autumn or winter months, when the skies are cloudy and the sun rarely makes an appearance, it can be particularly challenging. 

Vitamin D, also called the sunshine vitamin, is not technically a vitamin and likewise is not really an essential vitamin, as it can be created in our bodies. Under UVB radiation from sun exposure, this vitamin which is not really a vitamin but a hormone, is produced in our skin, provided that appropriate levels of cholesterol are also present. Humans are very efficient producers of vitamin D, able to meet the daily requirements for the vitamin in just over 20 minutes of exposure of the third of our body. The whiter our skin, the easier it is for us to absorb the UVB radiation, which is why dark skinned people need to be very careful to maintain adequate intake of vitamin D in order to remain healthy if they choose to live far north from the equator.

But are vitamin supplements our best bet? Well, it depends. There are plenty of excellent supplements on the market that will allow us to maintain good levels of vitamin D. These are quick and easy to take. The sea of supplements available on the market can be quite tricky to navigate though. 

There are plenty of vitamin D2 supplements, which is a vegan version, which are essentially useless. Our bodies find it hard to transform D2 into D3, which is the most bioavailable form. D3 can only be found in animal foods (and in some form of algae, which are neither an animal nor a plant, according to some). 

Even D3 supplements can be filled with stuff you don't want. Colourings, flavourings, preservatives, etc. find their way into pills, tablets, capsules, drops or syrups. It can be quite time consuming to find a supplement that suits our body. Hence, the best and most optimal way to ingest vitamin D would be from food and the sun. 


The sun, if available, is obviously your best bet at keeping your vitamin D levels high. For skin synthesis to occur, adequate levels of blood cholesterol are essential.


Another good source of vitamin D, an average portion of wild salmon is usually enough to cover your daily requirement. Another good choice are herring, sardines, sprats and shellfish.


Fat from pasture raised pigs has high concentration of vitamin D. However, this only applies to the animals raised outdoors. Pigs from factory farms do not have that benefit.


Egg yolks are a reasonably good source of vitamin D. They do not cover the daily requirement (would probably need to eat about 20 per day for that), however, they nicely supplement the rest of the diet. Eggs can be made into both sweet and savoury dishes and sauces, making them very versatile.


This age old traditional food has suffered a lot of bad press in recent years. The ocean pollution and the extraction process leave this almost sacred food particularly vulnerable. Extra virgin cod liver oil from a good source is still an excellent food, full of omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin D.