Vitamin D is an essential secosteroid that helps the body absorb magnesium, calcium, phosphate and supports bone and muscle development. It is found in certain foods, and it is produced when UV sunlight rays hit the skin through vitamin D synthesis.
Despite the massive health benefits this vitamin provides, many people have a vitamin D deficiency. People who have darker skin absorb less sunlight, and those who smoke cigarettes, older adults, people with diabetes, and those who do not get enough sunlight, in general, all are more prone to having a vitamin D insufficiency.
For these reasons, we made a list of the best vitamin D supplements. With summer coming to an end and us starting to hide from the cold, we will start getting less sun exposure, meaning less vitamin D for our bodily functions.
Luckily, we live in times where vitamin supplements are readily available, and people have easy access to them. So, to help you decide on the correct vitamin D supplement for you, we have made this list with a couple of criteria in mind:
- The reputation and quality standards of the manufacturer
- If it contains unhealthy ingredients like sugars, sweeteners, and artificial colors
- If healthcare professionals and nutritionists trust it
Top 5 Vitamin D Supplements [Reviews]
- PureFormulas: Overall Best Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3 Pills
- Care/of: Sunny D3 Organic Vitamin D Supplement
- NOW: Highly Potent Vitamin D3 Softgels for Immune Strength
- PureFormulas: Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3 Liquid with High Vitamin D level
- Thorne: Liquid Vitamin D for Cardiovascular Health
#1. Pure Formulas: Overall Best Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3 Pills
Pricing: $43.50 per bottle, $0.36 per serving
PureFormulas is one of the leaders of the online health and vitamin D supplement market. It specializes in products that are GMP-certified, which are high quality and recommended by healthcare advisors.
The Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3 supplement comes with 120 capsules, which are perfect for supplementing on a daily basis. Each capsule has 250mcg (10,000 IU) per serving, which is a safe and healthy level for most adults.
With 120 vegetable capsules, the bottle will last you around four months. What is unique about this vitamin D supplement is that it is manufactured with the most bioavailable ingredients possible and follows strict quality controls while being hypo-allergenic. This supplement is recommended for people with a vitamin D deficiency like pregnant women, women who breastfeed, people with darker skin, people aged 65 and older, etc.
What We Liked
- High-quality capsules
- Manufactured in the U.S.
- Tested for contents, potency, and safety
- GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices)-certified
- Vegetarian capsules
- Free of egg, gluten, and GMOs
- Hypo-allergenic and free of peanuts and wheat
- Free shipping and returns
The capsules have an excellent 5-star rating from 35+ customers. People have been using the capsules to supplement their daily lives and have gotten their vitamin D to adequate levels in only the first month.
Others reported using it for things like joints and jaw pain, as the vitamin D helped them absorb calcium and magnesium, which help with bone-related pains. Customers have been saying they have had problems tolerating other vitamin D supplements, but this one does the work without any adverse effects. In general, people liked that the product has no fillers, is convenient to take, boosts immunity, and does the job right.
#2. Care/of: Sunny D3 Organic Vitamin D Supplement
Pricing: $5 + shipping, $0.16 per serving
Care/of is a company operating from New York and Vermont, and it is dedicated to helping you find your path to personal health. Care/of creates only the highest quality products that are tested three times along the production process — once for the raw ingredients, again during manufacturing, and the third time on the finished product.
Care/of’s vitamin D capsules are a great monthly vitamin D supplement, with each capsule containing 25mcg (1,000 IU) of vitamin D (cholecalciferol) per serving. The capsules contain soy, are fermented, vegetarian, and free of gluten. You should take one capsule per day together with a meal for optimal absorption. Ingesting the Sunny D3 capsules on a daily basis may improve your general health and strengthen your bones. It is a great way to combat your unhealthy diet or lack of sun exposure.
The capsules are bioavailable because they are fermented with probiotics and organic foods, which helps the nutrients to be easily digested. You can pick between the Sunny D3 and the Vegan Sunny D3.
What We Liked
- Affordable pricing
- Subscribe for a cheap monthly plan
- Vegan version available
- Manufactured in the U.S.
- Tested and meets NSF quality standards
- Does not contain eggs, fish, fortified milk, shellfish, peanuts, or wheat
- Free shipping on orders above $30
Care/of has a rating of 4.7 in more than 2,000 reviews. Customers liked the website’s interface, the ease of making monthly plans, the vegan options, and how affordable the vitamin D supplements are overall. People also enjoyed the quiz, which helped them decide on what vitamin D supplements and vitamins to take. It is convenient, and you do not have to switch stores to get all of your vitamins.
#3. NOW: Highly Potent Vitamin D3 Softgels for Immune Strength
Pricing: $12.99 per bottle, $0.108 per serving
NOW has been around since 1968, producing natural, high-quality products at very low prices. NOW is dedicated to producing only natural products, and this is verified by the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certification from the Natural Products Association (NPA).
NOW offers two variants of its Vitamin D-3 soft gels, a bottle containing 120 pills and a bottle with 240 pills. Each pill has a serving size of 25mcg (1,000 IU), which is a great dose to supplement all of the missed sunlight.
These highly potent softgels may support your immune system and help you maintain strong bones. Intended for adults only, you should consume one pill every two days with a meal.
The soft gel capsules are made with extra virgin olive oil, bovine gelatin, glycerin, and water and do not contain any yeast, soy, gluten, wheat, or other allergens. NOW has state-of-the-art laboratories, and they conduct around 16,000 product analyses each month. From analytical testing, physical testing, microbiology, sensory testing, and more, the vitamin D capsules contain only pure ingredients and are safe for consumption.
What We Liked
- Experienced company since 1968
- Regular in-house testing ensuring quality and safety
- Great prices for value
- Do not contain corn, wheat, yeast, milk, eggs, shellfish, fish, gluten, or soy
- Free shipping on U.S. orders above $50
Being around for so long, NOW has amassed thousands of customer reviews across all of its products. People seem to like the vitamin D supplements, as they have rated them 4.9 out of 5.
Many compliments come from people who have had problems with their immune system, saying their immunity has improved since they started using the NOW soft gel capsules. Other compliments come from people who have had joint pain and calcium intake problems, who have even replaced their anti-inflammatory medications with the supplement.
Vitamin D Liquids
#4. PureFormulas: Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3 Liquid with High Vitamin D Level
Pricing: $33.20 per bottle, $0.33 per serving.
This is another product from PureFormulas, but this time it is in liquid form. The 10 ml (0.3 fl. oz) bottle contains 100 servings with five drops per serving size, which is perfect for people who do not like pills or capsules.
The product is made using a plant-based formula from sustainably harvested lichen. Vitamin D3 can provide many health benefits to your body, including cardiovascular, bone, breast, colon, and immune health improvement. This product is made with hypoallergenic and vegan ingredients, with a great-tasting liquid formula for easy use.
The serving size is five drops (approximately 0.1ml) containing 25mcg or 1,000 IU vitamin D3. It is not recommended for infants, and if used by non-adults, the dose should be no more than 10mcg/400 IU. The liquid supplement is made in accordance with GMP and does not contain any allergens, contaminants, or GMOs.
What We Liked
- Convenient dosage and serving size of five drops
- Supports bone, prostate, and colon functionality
- Made in a GMP-certified facility
- Excellent taste
- Free of eggs, gluten, peanuts, dairy, wheat, and GMOs
- Manufactured in the U.S.
- Free shipping
The liquid supplement has 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon ratings. People seem to love the product, as it provides all of the benefits of vitamin D while also being hypo-allergenic.
For instance, a person said they are allergic to corn and have a strange reaction to lanolin-based vitamin D, and this product worked wonders for them. Others complimented the taste, saying it does not taste like medication or chemicals and is easily absorbable without upsetting your stomach. Customers who are vegan were also delighted that they finally found the perfect supplement that keeps them healthy and energized.
#5. Thorne: Liquid Vitamin D for Cardiovascular Health
Pricing: $15 per bottle, $0.025 per serving (2 drops)
Founded in 1984, Thorne provides personalized, scientific wellness through vitamins and supplements. The dedication Thorne has for quality has made them one of the only supplement companies listed on the NASDAQ. It only uses natural ingredients and its commitment to 100% clean sourcing so you can feel confident about what you are putting in your body.
With Thorne’s Vitamin D Liquid, you may increase your immunity, support your bones and muscles, and improve your cardiovascular and bone health. It is made without soy and mixed with tocopherols to preserve the freshness. Only natural ingredients and colors are used, and the liquid does not contain any gluten or dairy.
The container comes with 1,200 drops, and the serving size is two drops amounting to 25mcg, meaning 600 servings. The serving size is tailored to meet adults’ daily vitamin D needs according to the FDA’s recommendation.
What We Liked
- Experienced company with a good reputation
- Listed on NASDAQ
- Manufactured in NY, U.S.
- Great educational information about supplements
- Derived from natural flavors and colors
- Mixed with tocopherols to preserve freshness
- Free of soy, gluten, and dairy
- Discounts for subscribing
- 60-day satisfaction guarantee
We have not stumbled upon too many reviews for Thorne’s Vitamin D Liquid, but those that we found were from delighted customers. People enjoyed the convenience of adding a drop of the supplement to their or their kid’s food to get the daily recommended vitamin D dose.
Customers also liked that it had no particular taste, and they could add it to a preferred drink or food, helping them with overall body immunity and stronger bones.
Things to Consider Before Choosing the Best Vitamin D Supplement
It is important to remember that vitamin D supplements should not be taken lightly, and consulting with a doctor might be a good idea. Having high vitamin D levels can be potentially toxic to your body, so always be careful when dosing.
- Get Your Vitamin D Levels Tested
It is always a good idea to get a preview of your vitamin D levels. If you are not going out much or just live in a place with fewer sunny days, chances are your vitamin D levels are deficient. Foods like eggs, fish, certain cereals, red meat, and others will provide vitamin D, but they are unreliable. So, to get an accurate assessment of vitamin D in your body, consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to do a blood work test to determine the appropriate dosage needed.
- Check for Ingredients
Vitamin D supplements can contain a number of ingredients and allergens. So, always be careful and read the contents carefully to avoid potentially harmful ingredients. Companies usually disclose what their products contain, like soy, dairy, gluten, fish, eggs, shellfish, corn, and more.
Always go for companies that avoid using GMO products, and those which use only natural colors and flavors. Some supplements in pill or liquid form also contain sugars and sweeteners to improve the taste. You should avoid consuming added sugar unless you really cannot stand the taste or thought of pills. Also, if you are a vegan or vegetarian, most companies offer vitamin D supplements that are cruelty-free and vegan-friendly.
- Laboratory Tests and Certifications
We tried including companies that get their products tested and certified. Testing done by third parties ensures the quality, safety, and potency of each product and shows the company works transparently. Many brands will also have in-house testing throughout the production process for quality controls.
So, look for companies who disclose test results by third parties or certifications like NSF International, GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), ConsumerLab, US Pharmacopeia (USP), etc.
After doing a blood test for vitamin D levels, your healthcare professional will recommend the required dose. The FDA recommends 800-1,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D daily for adults and around 400 IU for pre-teens. But, if you have a high vitamin D deficiency, your doctor might recommend high-dose vitamin D supplements for a certain period and a maintenance dose afterward.
Most vitamin D supplements offer 25mcg or 1,000 IU per serving, but if you have had a deficit for an extended period, you will need more potent doses to obtain an optimum vitamin D level. PureFormulas offers pills that come with 250mcg, or 10,000 IU, of vitamin D per serving.
- Company’s Reputation and Customer Reviews
Our list consists of only companies that have kept a clean reputation and dedication to quality, safety, and good business behavior. We would suggest you read many publications, like ours, or read customer reviews before purchasing a supplement. After all, this is the age of the internet, and you cannot sell subpar products without customers complaining. So, always buy from products that have good ratings and comments left by customers.
The Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the essential nutrients in order for our bodies to function properly. It comes from sun rays and a handful of healthy and protein-rich foods.
- Healthy Bone Structure
Vitamin D stimulates the intestines to absorb calcium and reclaims calcium that would be otherwise excreted by the kidneys. Vitamin D is especially important for the bone health of children because, without it, they could develop rickets, a bone condition causing a bow legged appearance.
When it comes to adults, a lack of vitamin D will manifest itself as osteomalacia, a condition causing poor bone mineral density, muscle weakness, and softening of the bones. Supplementing vitamin D can also help you combat osteoporosis, which is prevalent among older and elderly adults.
- Boosts Immunity and Reduces the Risk of Flu
Research that was done back in 2018 showed vitamin D’s potential to reduce chances of catching influenza “flu” virus. However, more study needs to be done to further expand on these claims, as similar research done in the past showed no protective properties of vitamin D against the flu.
Vitamin D has been proven to improve overall immunity by affecting the overall body homeostasis. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with an increase in autoimmune problems and susceptibility to infection. This is because immune cells have vitamin D receptors, and those cells could synthesize the vitamin D active metabolite.
- Healthy Pregnancy and Healthy Infants
Pregnant women who lack vitamin D have shown links to an increased risk of developing preeclampsia and premature birth. There have also been links to vitamin D deficiency and gestational diabetes and bacterial vaginosis.
Children and infants that suffer from high blood pressure have shown links between low vitamin D levels and stiffness in the arterial walls. Research has also been done by the AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology) that suggests a connection between low vitamin D exposure and an increase in allergies. Children who live closer to the equator and in sunny areas have lower rates of hospital visits for allergies and are less likely to develop a peanut allergy. Vitamin D could be potentially useful as supportive therapy for children with steroid-resistant asthma as well.
- Reduces Cancer-Related Deaths
In recent years, scientists have been paying attention to the potential of vitamin D in battling cancer. Around 60 observational studies were done that analyzed the link between vitamin D and breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer risk. The studies showed that it has the potential to reduce cancer risk.
However, more studies need to be done to confirm the effects of vitamin D supplements in battling cancer because other studies have shown it does not reduce the risk overall. But, researchers came to an exciting conclusion — people who have developed cancer had a 13% lower death rate when they were taking vitamin D supplements. Some of the results were conflicting, so doctors and scientists agree that more studies need to be done in order to have definitive proof of vitamin D aiding cancer patients.
- Reduces Depression and Helps Mental Health
There have not been enough studies done on the links between mental health and vitamin D supplements, but what has been done so far shows promise.
In a few studies, scientists examined the effects of vitamin D supplements on people with clinical depression and noticed a drastic improvement in their mood and symptoms. Different research has shown that people who experienced anxiety and depression were often vitamin D deficient.
- Aids Weight Loss and Appetite Suppression
If you are trying to lose weight, consider including vitamin D supplements in your diet. A study has shown that people taking daily calcium and vitamin D supplements were losing more weight than those who took placebo supplements. The reason for losing more weight is the appetite-reducing effects calcium and vitamin D have. Also, a different study has shown that obese people who have been taking vitamin D reduced the risk of heart disease.
Adverse Effects of Vitamin D
Vitamin D has a slew of bone health benefits, but taking too much can also cause problems for your body. Taking too many vitamin D supplements can cause vitamin D intoxication, which happens when blood levels reach 150 ng/ml. Vitamin D is stored in your body fat and slowly released in the blood, so you can feel the effects of toxicity for several months.
However, you should not have to worry because toxicity is not common and cannot happen from eating too much vitamin D-rich food or getting too much sunlight. This only happens to people who take too many vitamin D supplements. So, we would suggest talking to a doctor and getting your blood levels tested before starting a supplement regimen, especially if you are planning on taking higher doses.
- High Levels Lead to Blood Toxicity
Always follow the recommended upper limit of 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day. Exceeding this limit can be dangerous and cause toxicity in your blood. This may lead to symptoms like fatigue, nausea, slurred speech, and vomiting, among others.
- High Calcium Levels in Your Blood
The most vital task vitamin D does is help you absorb calcium from the food you consume. However, too much vitamin D can raise blood calcium levels and cause unpleasant and dangerous symptoms. High calcium levels can cause hypercalcemia with symptoms like digestive distress, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, thirst, frequent urination, stomach pain, and confusion.
- Kidney Problems
People who develop vitamin D toxicity are at risk of severely injuring their kidneys. In one study, a man had kidney failure when he was prescribed vitamin D injections by his doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How do I know if I am getting enough vitamin D?
Statistics vary, and different institutes have shown that somewhere between 5% and 30% of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency. This is a serious medical condition that could lead to bone health problems and bone diseases like rickets.
The best way to determine if you have low vitamin D levels is to consult with a healthcare professional and perform a vitamin D blood test. If you are experiencing fatigue, aches, muscle weakness, and joint and bone pain, you should consider getting tested.
The following groups of people are at a higher risk of having a vitamin D deficiency.
- People with darker skin tones who absorb less sunlight
- People who have milk allergies or are lactose intolerant
- Vegans and vegetarians
- Adults older than 65
- People with limited exposure to sunlight
- People with obesity and diabetes
- People with liver disease, cardiovascular disease, cystic fibrosis, and Crohn’s disease
Q2. What are the best natural ways for vitamin D supplementation?
The most effective way to get vitamin D naturally is sunshine. Getting sunlight on your skin for 15 to 20 minutes a couple of times per week should give you a healthy dose of vitamin D. The other way to get vitamin D is through food that is rich in it.
Unfortunately, very few foods contain the nutrient, with the best sources being fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, cod, and sardines. Other foods include swiss cheese, beef liver, egg yolks, and red meat.
If you are vegan, it is even harder to get vitamin D through foods, with the most notable way being by eating mushrooms. Breakfast foods can also be an excellent alternative. Things like cereals, yogurt, milk, and bread, can provide healthy doses as well.
Q3. What should I look for when buying a supplement?
If your doctor advised you to take vitamin D supplements, always ask how much you should dose. The limit range for adults is 15mcg (600 IU) to 100mcg (4,000 IU) per day, and more significant amounts could be toxic.
Vitamin D supplements usually come in two forms, D2 and D3, of which D3 is longer lasting and better absorbed. The best vitamin D supplements are generally made with D3 and are traditionally manufactured from lanolin or plant-based lichen for vegans.
When you are shopping for a supplement, always look for a disclaimer on the label of the container showing ingredients and a verification from a third party showing it has been tested by a regulating organization.
Q4. What is the best form of vitamin D?
We would recommend taking vitamin D3, known as cholecalciferol. D3 is the natural form of vitamin D your body creates from absorbing sunlight. Vitamin D supplements containing D2 are also okay, but some research has shown D3 stays in the body longer.
Q5. How do I quickly raise vitamin D levels?
The easiest way to raise your levels is by taking vitamin D supplements. There are supplements that offer high doses of vitamin D like 25 mcg or 10,000 IU, but you should not overdo it for the sake of raising levels fast. Because too much vitamin D could be toxic to your body, and because vitamin D sticks around and is released slowly, rushing a bottle of capsules is never a good idea. Try combining a daily supplement regimen with as much sunlight as you can, and eat some vitamin D-rich foods.
Q6. How long does it take to improve vitamin D deficiency?
By using a vitamin D supplement and taking it daily, you could correct your vitamin D deficiency in just a few months. Taking in doses from 1,000 IU to 2,000 IU daily can bring your vitamin D level to a healthy amount in three to four months.
Q7. What are the side effects of low vitamin D levels?
The most common symptoms for vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, muscle pain, and weakness, depression and mood swings, and bone and joint pain.
Q8. Is there anything that helps with vitamin D absorption?
Certain foods could increase the rate of vitamin D absorption, and these are avocados, nuts, fatty dairy products, seeds, and eggs. Also, taking vitamin D after you have had a healthy and large meal full of fats can vastly improve absorption.
Q9. Is there a connection between vitamin D levels and depression?
There have been studies that have made the connection between depression and people with low vitamin D intake. Statistically, people with low vitamin D were at a greater risk of having depression.
Final Thoughts: What Are the Best Vitamin D Supplements?
Supplementing vitamin D in your everyday life could prove to have enormous benefits for your mind and body. We know the best way to intake some vitamin D is by standing out in the sun, but with the pandemic, impending cold, gloomy weather, and working countless hours, this just is not always possible. So, you can choose from our list of the best vitamin D supplements currently available on the market to help you achieve healthy levels. But, remember to consult your doctor first to get to your levels tested and establish a recommended daily dosage.