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Do Foods High In Vitamin D Have Enough For Osteoporosis Treatment?

Foods high in vitamin D seldom provide enough of the vitamin to prevent or treat osteoporosis. Vitamin D supplements provide an affordable way of complementing a healthy diet.

To view comments about vitamin D dosage and supplements visit our Vitamin D Forum.

Vitamin D is essential for promoting the calcium absorption needed for bone growth and remodeling... and is one of the most important elements in an osteoporosis prevention program.

The U.S. National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that adults over fifty get 800-1,000 IUs of Vitamin D daily. For people living north of 42 degrees latitude (north of Boston, Rome and approximately Beijing) this amount of vitamin D is almost impossible to achieve from sunlight alone. Many experts now recommend that people in northern regions take 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily in the Fall and winter.

Foods high in vitamin D can help to attain the recommended levels but other than fish... most of these foods are fortified products like milk, soy milk and cereal grains. The exception is cod liver oil which provides 1,360 IUs of vitamin D in one tablespoon.

Following is a list of the vitamin D content of various foods, as identified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Fish (3 oz.)

  • Salmon (sockeye), cooked: 794 IUs
  • Mackerel, cooked: 388 IUs
  • Tuna, canned in water and drained: 154 IUs
  • Sardines, canned in oil, drained (2 sardines): 46 IUs

Beverages (1 cup)

  • Milk (fortified): 115-124 IUs
  • Orange juice (fortified): 100 IUs


  • Yoghurt, fortified (6 oz): 80 IUs
  • Beef liver, cooked (3.5 oz).: 45 IUs
  • Cereals, fortified (1 cup): 40 IUs
  • Egg yolk: 25 IUs

As most people do not eat fish or drink eight glasses of milk each day, vitamin D supplements can provide an easy and inexpensive way of attaining the recommended levels that will support healthy bone development.