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Vitamin D2 (or ergocalciferol) is a form of Vitamin D. Vitamin D2 maintains normal levels of calcium and phosphorus and helps the body absorb calcium. A proper intake of Vitamin D2 can help prevent many deadly diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cancer. Vitamin D2 deficiencies may cause rickets and osteomalacia. Vitamin D2 can be absorbed through sunlight or taken in a vitamin supplement. Certain foods are fortified with Vitamin D2, while few foods provide it naturally. The Vitamin D levels that occur naturally in food will not alter when food is cooked or stored, since Vitamin D is a stable compound.
Most healthy fish are good sources of Vitamin D2. The highest amounts will be found in sockeye salmon, native to the Pacific Ocean. Sockeye salmon contains an exceptional 739.37 IU in a 4-oz. serving. Other great fish sources of Vitamin D2 include:
- other fresh water salmon varieties
Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is an oil obtained from the livers of cod and similar fishes. It is not only an excellent source of vitamin D2, it is also high in Vitamin E and Vitamin A. Cod liver oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help brain function and cardiovascular health. It is usually taken in a softgel form. Check the label because some cod liver oil manufacturers remove the Vitamin D.
Almost all pasteurized milk is enriched with Vitamin D2. Milk contains a high amount of calcium, which is best absorbed when combined with Vitamin D2. Other dairy products, like cheese and yogurt, do not usually contain Vitamin D2. Flavored milk, like chocolate, will contain the same amount of Vitamin D2 as plain milk.
Whole eggs contain a high amount of vitamins, including Vitamin D2. Even though egg whites are a popular egg replacement, they are not a good source of the vitamin, since Vitamin D2 is fat soluble and is only present in the yolk.
Orange juice fortified with vitamins can be a good source of Vitamin D2, especially for children who are picky eaters. Most kids love to drink juice and will happily drink orange juice. Read the label to see what vitamins have been added.
Most major cereal manufacturers add vitamins, including Vitamin D2. Look for whole grain, low-sugar cereals, as in 5g or less per serving. High-sugar cereals, loaded with frosting and marshmallows, may contain vitamins, but that does not make them a healthy choice.