All About Vitamin D Absorption: Benefits, Sources, And Why Is It Necessary For Your Body?

Medically reviewed by Maria Sarino, MD FACT CHECKED

Humans require a lot of dietary nutrition along with the non-essential fatty acids produced by the body. These include carbs, proteins, fat,  vitamins, and minerals. One of these essential vitamins is vitamin D.

This vitamin is fat-soluble. Therefore normally it is accompanied by a fat-rich diet. It is produced in the body and is also absorbed through food. Our body produces vitamin D when the skin comes in contact with sunlight.

You don’t have to hassle much for getting this indispensable vitamin. The more important it is for the body, the easier it is to acquire it.

A lot of food items can contribute to the daily intake of this vitamin. Some of them are mentioned below-

  • Mushrooms

    Along with selenium, mushrooms have a hefty amount of vitamin D, as shown in research. The way to consume mushrooms has always been conflicting. Some believe it is safe to consume it raw while others always advise cooking it. 

    Getting away with the controversy of the way to consume it. The best part is that it is rich in vitamin D even if sauteed or cooked. It does not lose the vitamins to the heat when cooked. 

    It can be added raw to salads with some seasonings(if you consider it safe to be eaten raw) or cooked with the help of some delicious recipes. Though all types of mushrooms are rich in vitamin D, shiitake mushrooms are the ones with the highest proportions. 

    Studies have shown that exposing mushrooms to the sun for 15 to 20 minutes before eating increases the amount of Vitamin D in them. 

    The process followed by this fungi species is the same as followed by our skin when subjected to sunlight. As Vitamin D is rarely found in food naturally, it is a great source for serving the purpose.

  • Milk

    Milk is another source that is rich in vitamin D. Studies have shown, that whole milk can provide vitamin D up to 24% of the required daily intake. But, it can be increased by fortification. 

    Fortification helps to add in the necessary vitamins which are not naturally present. After the milk is fortified, the amount of vitamin D can go up to 29%.

    Cow’s milk is the best-known milk for vitamin D. Certain plant-based substitutes like almond and soy milk are good sources for vegans. The milk coming into the market is generally fortified for a healthier diet.

  • Eggs

    If you love adding fried eggs on top of your favourite noodles or the fluffy omelettes tingle your taste buds, it’s good news for you. Eggs are naturally rich in Vitamin D. 

    While eating eggs have several benefits like it provides protein, choline and vitamin A along with vitamin D. To be precise, vitamin D is present in the egg yolk. 

    So, 2 egg yolks a day can provide enough of what is needed. Enjoying this savoury breakfast is now going to be more delightful knowing the wonders it can do to help the body.

  • Oily Fish

    Seafood offers value, variety and taste. Fish dominates the entire market when it comes to seafood. The best bit is not only are they tasty but also very nutritious. 

    Several varieties of fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel, sardines and herrings are known to provide vitamin D. They are also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Breakfast Cereal

    Choosing something healthy for starting the day is important. It provides energy for the whole day, so something similar is required for providing enough energy. Cereals are a smart choice.

    They are good for metabolism, energy, and a healthier gut, overloaded with nutrition. Oatmeal and corn flakes have the right amount of fibre for a healthy gut. 

    Additionally, they are good enough to provide the required amount of vitamin D. Fortification enhances this amount to double.

  • Tofu

    This plant-based product has gained utmost popularity because of its miraculous benefits. It helps in gaining healthy weight by building muscles. 

    It also provides calcium and iron. It is gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and low in calories. It serves as an excellent option for vegans and vegetarians who cannot eat meat and eggs for acquiring vitamin D. 

    Not only this, it is beneficial to the skin and hair. A dairy substitute for it is cheese. Consuming fortified cheese means increasing vitamin D intake. 

    It is a blessing for the cheese lovers who can’t help but drool looking at it. Eating in the right proportions can help the body gain the much-needed vitamin.

  • Fortified Yoghurt

    Another dairy product that manages to make it to the list is yoghurt. It is fortified with vitamin D to provide ample nourishment combined with great taste. 

    Adding yoghurt to meals or eating it with fruits helps provide calcium, proteins, and water content and also keeps the heart-healthy.

  • Some More Sources Of Vitamin D

    There are several other things to munch on or drink for obtaining vitamin D. Few of them are beef liver, pork, oysters, shrimps, chocolate milk, orange juice and cod liver oil.

    Other than dietary methods, two basic and famous ways of getting vitamin D are-

    • Sunlight

      The most common, famous and widely used method is sitting in the sunlight. Since childhood, one is taught and made to follow this technique. 

      The heat of the sun is not only relieving enough for a good afternoon nap, but sunlight also provides a great amount of vitamin D. 

      When our skin is subjected to sunlight, it produces vitamin D. Sitting in the sun with the back facing the sun for 15 mins can boost the level of vitamin d synthesised in our body.

    • UV Lamps

      This method is an underdog when compared to prior methods but still gains enough limelight to be mentioned and used. This lamp emits UV rays similar to the sun. 

      It is a saviour in winters when one fails to get enough sunlight. It produces vitamin D3 which is very important from a health perspective. 

      However, excessive use or subjection to these lamps can be harmful in the long run but government studies have shown positive results for people in short term.

Best Way To Get Vitamin D

Though, all the sources stated above are good sources of vitamin D. But, sitting in sunlight and foods like fatty fish and mushrooms are the best-known sources of Vitamin D.

Supplements are the best option for people with a very low level of Vitamin D. However, people with no such problem generally shouldn’t prefer supplements as they can cause nausea.

What Prevents Vitamin D Absorption?

The place where you live can affect the amount of vitamin D you might need. Since winters play an important role in this place where the low angle of the sun decreases the intensity and amount of UVB lights reaching the surface. 

Pollution in your city disturbs the ozone layer letting in more UVB rays than needed.

Theoretically, sunscreens applied on the skin are made to prevent UVB rays which technically will also decrease the vitamin D levels but since people are very irregular with sunscreens they do not make it practically possible.

Melanin is one’s body that makes the person’s body color dark is to prevent the skin from UVB rays but it, therefore, will decrease Vitamin D absorption.

Besides this, even the temperature of the skin affects vitamin D absorption where cooler skin tones tend to produce less vitamin D than darker and as you age.

Your age affects vitamin D absorption where the lower level of substances in your body wouldn’t convert UVB rays into vitamin D as efficiently as it should. 

With this, even the health of your gut affects vitamin D absorption whereas certain gut diseases tend to reduce vitamin D absorption.

What Helps Vitamin D Absorption?

  • Timely consumption

    Since vitamin d is fat-soluble, it is important to take the supplement along with meals. Taking it between intervals or without a fat-rich meal can reduce the amount of absorption of vitamin D. 

  • Vitamin D rich diet

    Eating foods with high vitamin D can help in improving vitamin D levels. A list of foods rich in this vitamin has already been stated above. 

  • Don’t cut the oils

    Today’s generation has cut down on carbs and oily food considering them unhealthy. But it is important to note that for normal functioning our body needs some healthy oils.

    A tablespoon or two of ghee or oil will cause no harm. So, monitor them but do not cut them down completely. This is a common cause of deficiency nowadays.

    These oils can help in the absorption of vitamin D. So make sure to not eliminate them.

    Having said that, you might want to avoid these worst cooking oils for your health.

  • Balanced diet

    Having a diet rich in vitamin K, Zinc, and Magnesium increases the chances of absorption of vitamin D in your body. 

  • No stress

    Stress remains the cause of almost all problems. It hinders the absorption of Vitamin D even if your intake is in good proportions. So make sure to take a break and relax.

    Also, there are a number of Ashwagandha benefits for women and one of them is related to stress.

  • More cautious with the sunscreen

    Sunscreens are important for the skin as they prevent damage caused by UV rays. But, it is also true that they block vitamin D from being produced in the skin. 

    So even 20 mins of sunlight won’t give enough vitamin D. Make sure to add plenty of dietary vitamin D for balancing.

How To Take Vitamin D Correctly?

It should be taken orally with meals or with milk since it is fat-soluble. Absence of the same causes incomplete absorption.

What Does Vitamin D Do For Your Body?

It promotes cell growth, reduces inflammation, influences immunity, prevents upper respiratory infections and supports neuromuscular function. 

Several studies have proven that Vitamin D is also good for bone health, brain function, improving mood, and diabetes management in your body.

When To Take Vitamin D?

Vitamin D must be taken in the morning with meals for better results. Taking it at night or without meals may lead to sleep disturbance and incomplete absorption respectively.

What To Take With Vitamin D?

Magnesium-rich food like almonds, spinach, banana, and pumpkin seeds should be taken with vitamin D. Along with that a good meal with healthy fat should be taken for maximum benefits.

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