The sunshine vitamin, when there is no sun

Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, but what happens when there is less sunshine? In the winter, sun exposure is limited due to fewer hours of sunlight per day, plus those colder temperatures keep us in doors or completely bundled up, further limiting the sun time. So how can we amp up our dietary intake to meet the recommended amount of 600 IU for ages 1-70 and 800 IU for adults over 70[1]?

Dining for D

Foods that naturally contain vitamin D are fatty fish, like salmon, canned tuna, halibut, mackerel, swordfish, egg yolks, and some mushrooms. Foods that have sometimes been fortified with vitamin D include soy milk, dairy products like yogurt, milk and cheese, and cereals like whole grain oatmeal. As these foods aren’t always fortified, it is always best to check the label.

The amount of vitamin D is higher in the foods where it naturally occurs than the fortified options, but they all add up to help us reach our necessary amount and prevent deficiencies[2]. Plus, eating a variety of whole foods is necessary for a well-balanced healthful diet, so definitely mix and match with this list!

Dishing out D

So how exactly do we work these foods into our day? Try these recipes!


  • ½ cup of plain whole grain oatmeal made with unsweetened soy milk and add in ½ cup of your favorite berries for some natural sweetness with a tablespoon of shelled pistachios.
  • Or try 2-3 scrambled eggs (with the yolk!) with ¼ mashed avocado on a piece of whole grain toast. Pro tip: leave the pit in the unused part of the avocado to keep it from turning brown and refrigerate it for tomorrow’s breakfast.


  • Try a twist on tuna salad, by making it with a little bit of mustard (spicy or plain) and skip the mayo! Add in some chopped veggies like peppers, celery, carrots and serve it wrapped up in lettuce leaves or on a whole grain English muffin. Pro tip: prep the salad Sunday night so it is all ready to go.  Serve it with an apple or a banana.

D snacks:

  • Go for a 6 ounce-single serving container of plain Greek yogurt with some chia seeds or raw almonds for a crunch.
  • Or have a cheese stick with a clementine.


  • Salmon or swordfish, broiled, grilled, or baked. Pair it with sautéed vegetables, like peppers, zucchini, eggplant, bok choy, dandelion greens, broccoli, cauliflower, any vegetables your family likes most, add a little quinoa or brown rice on the side. Pro tip: 6oz of either fish has over 600 IU, so you can take a break from the tuna lunch, if you have one for dinner.
  • If you did not egg-out for breakfast then have breakfast for dinner! Your kids will love it! Make a frittata or omelet with mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini.

It is sometimes difficult to meet your full vitamin D requirements from diet alone. If you are unable to meet your daily requirement of vitamin D from these foods, check out our Ddrops family of products!

Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN is a Ddrops guest blogger.  She is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and owner of BZ Nutrition, a private nutrition counseling practice in New York City.  She works with clients to help them reach a variety of health goals and specializes in women’s nutrition, digestive disorders, heart health, weight management and general health and wellness. Brigitte is a contributing nutrition expert for Self Magazine and has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Women’s Health, US Health & News, and Bustle.  She loves to go for brunch in her West Village neighborhood, and always eats her eggs with the yolks! You can follow her @BrigitteZRD on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat or stay in touch on Facebook.


[1] Health Canada.  Vitamin D and Calcium.

[2] Cleveland Clinic. The Role of Vitmain D in Your Health.