5 Ways You Can Get Vitamin D

Patient Expert
Medically Reviewed
View as:|
1 of 5


Only a very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Fatty fish -- such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel -- and fish liver oils are the only foods that naturally have more than small amounts.


Fortified foods

Americans get most of our vitamin D from fortified foods. For example, almost all of our milk includes 100 IU per cup.



Almost all of us get at least some vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. While this is the most natural way to get a lot of vitamin D, it has its dangers. And people who live at high latitudes or where cloud cover is high or have dark skin have special challenges in getting enough vitamin D this way. Anyone who uses sunscreens with a sun protection factor of 8 or more is blocking vitamin D, and all of us who get a lot of sun increase our risk of skin cancer.


Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 supplements are available over-the-counter and are the easiest way to get large amounts of  vitamin D in our systems.


Vitamin D2

Vitamin D2 is typically the supplement form that our doctors prescribe. As recently as 2011 the clinical guideline of the Endocrine Society considered it to be as effective as vitamin D3.