Good Luck Trying to Get Vitamin D from Foods

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/16/2024

While vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for well-being, not many people understand how much they should be consuming, or that food alone will not help you meet minimum requirements.

Learn about how relying on food intake of vitamin D is unreliable and what you can do to get vitamin D instead.

The Challenge of Meeting Vitamin D Requirements Through Food

Getting enough vitamin D from food alone is a tricky task. Our daily recommended intake can be complex to meet through diet.

The Impracticality of Relying on Fish for Vitamin D

Fish such as mackerel and wild-caught salmon contain a hefty amount of vitamin D. Still, to get the daily requirement, one would have to consume an unreasonable quantity—approximately 10 servings each day or about 30 ounces altogether.

Foods other than fish, like poultry and dairy, contain vitamin D. But there's a catch: the quantities required to meet your daily vitamin D needs are too high.

Free-range chicken

The Drawbacks of Relying on Poultry and Dairy

Let's take trout as an example. You would need to eat about 15 servings—around 42 ounces—every day to get your recommended vitamin D.

Moving onto farm-fed salmon - it doesn't fare much better either. You would have to consume 18 servings per day. That’s almost impossible for anyone with regular eating habits, not to mention the health risks of consuming farm-fed rather than wild-caught salmon.

Last but not least is cobbler oil—a source some people swear by for its nutritional value—but again, we run into quantity issues. You would need 22 teaspoons daily, which is far beyond what most people could realistically consume.

All this goes back to one point: relying solely on food sources to provide our bodies with sufficient Vitamin D is quite challenging due to the impractical quantities needed.

The impracticality of Canned Foods and Organ Meats for Vitamin D

The quest to meet our daily vitamin D requirements from food can lead us down some surprising paths. We might consider canned foods like tuna or even organ meats such as beef liver. But let's get honest about the practicalities.

Canned Tuna

Tuna, specifically canned light tuna, does contain vitamin D, around 5% of your recommended daily intake per serving (ODS NIH).

To hit that 100% mark using only this source would mean you'd need to consume an incredible 32 cans (129.5 ounces) every day.

Consuming Organ Meats

A single ounce provides merely 1% RDI for vitamin D. This means consuming about 238 servings is required daily.

The Role of Dairy and Eggs in Vitamin D Intake

Many people consider dairy products and eggs as their go-to sources for vitamin D. But the reality may surprise you.

The Impracticality of Relying on Dairy

Dairy, specifically yogurt, contains some vitamin D. But you would need to consume 65 cups daily to meet your body's requirements. That’s more than what anyone can reasonably eat in a day.

Eggs are another commonly touted source of this essential nutrient. Specifically, it's found in egg yolks. To get enough vitamin D from eggs alone, you’d have to consume around 270 yolks daily.

In essence, while dairy products and eggs do contribute towards our intake of vitamin D, relying solely on them is highly impractical due to the vast quantities needed.


We must look beyond these foods to ensure we're getting enough vitamin D, which plays crucial roles such as supporting bone health and immune function. Sun exposure remains one of the best natural ways to boost our levels.

In addition, taking a supplement can help you reach your recommended daily allowance of vitamin D.

Magnesium-rich foods

Magnesium and Vitamin D

Understanding why it's important to take magnesium with vitamin D is crucial for overall health. Magnesium acts as a critical cofactor in activating vitamin D within the body.

When you supplement with vitamin D or obtain it through exposure to sunlight, it undergoes a series of transformations, with magnesium playing a vital role in converting it into its active form.

The question of why magnesium should be taken with vitamin D arises because this relationship ensures that vitamin D functions optimally, supporting various bodily processes. Moreover, magnesium helps regulate calcium levels, which are closely intertwined with vitamin D metabolism.

So, it's not just about taking these nutrients separately; it's about understanding their intricate relationship to maximize their benefits.

Incorporating magnesium-rich foods into your diet or considering magnesium supplements alongside vitamin D supplementation can help ensure you address both aspects effectively.

However, it's essential to maintain a balanced approach and seek guidance from a healthcare professional to determine the correct dosage for your specific needs.


Relying solely on food sources to meet our vitamin D requirements is impractical due to the vast quantities needed. While certain foods like fish, poultry, dairy, and eggs contain vitamin D, consuming enough to reach our daily recommended intake is unrealistic and may pose health risks.

Instead, explore alternative methods to ensure adequate vitamin D levels, such as sun exposure and supplementation. Additionally, understanding the relationship between magnesium and vitamin D is essential, as magnesium plays a critical role in activating vitamin D within the body.

By incorporating sunlight exposure, supplementation, and a balanced magnesium-rich diet, we can effectively maintain optimal vitamin D levels to support overall health and well-being.

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