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Our dietitian narrowed down the best vitamin D supplements, evaluating ingredient quality and brand transparency. Top picks include Pure Encapsulations and Nordic Naturals.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin involved in several critical bodily processes, including calcium and phosphorus absorption, bone health, and muscle growth and development (1).
It is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because your skin cells naturally produce it in response to sun exposure (2).
However, a survey published in 2018 found that 40% of Americans were deficient in vitamin D. Deficiency was especially common among African American people, people who smoked, people who had little sun exposure or regularly used sunscreen, people over age 65, and people with obesity or diabetes (3, 4).
Because vitamin D is found naturally in very few foods, it can be difficult to meet your needs through diet alone (5).
Therefore, many people may wish to take a vitamin D supplement, especially if they don’t regularly get sun exposure or consume foods fortified with vitamin D.
Here are 14 of the best vitamin D supplements for 2023.
Because shopping for supplements can be confusing and overwhelming, we rounded up the best vitamin D supplements using the following criteria:
Effectiveness: The products listed below contain vitamin D3 for optimal absorption.
Ingredients: We looked for supplements that are free of unnecessary ingredients such as fillers and artificial sweeteners and colors.
Dietitian recommendation: All the products listed below were handpicked by a registered dietitian.
Price: We included products to suit a range of budgets.
Why you should trust us
Every brand and product on our list has been reviewed by registered dietitians and vetted to ensure that it aligns with Healthline’s brand integrity standards and approach to well-being. Each product in this article:
adheres to allowable health claims and labeling requirements, per Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations
is manufactured in facilities that adhere to the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) established by the FDA
is produced by a medically credible company that follows ethical, legal, and industry best standards
is made by a company that provides objective measures of trust, such as having its supplements validated by third-party labs
Before you decide on a vitamin D supplement, it’s a good idea to get your levels checked. A blood test is the only way to find out whether your levels are deficient, insufficient, sufficient, or optimal.
A healthcare professional can order blood work and help you determine an appropriate dosage, if a supplement is necessary for you.
Keep in mind that if you’re severely deficient in vitamin D, a healthcare professional may recommend high dose supplements or injections for a certain period, followed by a daily maintenance dose.
Other factors to consider when shopping for vitamin D supplements include:
Ingredients: Many products, especially liquids, gummies, and chewables, contain added sugars and artificial flavorings and colors.
Form of vitamin D: Vitamin D supplements contain either ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) or cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). While both forms can increase levels of vitamin D effectively, vitamin D3 can increase levels more significantly and for longer (5).
Quality: Look for products that are rigorously tested for purity, quality, and accuracy, ideally from a third-party organization such as USP or ConsumerLab.
Dose: Choose a product containing an appropriate dose of vitamin D to meet your needs. Keep in mind that the recommended vitamin D intake varies by age and depends on whether you have a deficiency or are simply looking to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D (4).
The amount of vitamin D you need per day depends on multiple factors, including your age and health status.
The recommended DV for vitamin D is 800 IU for adults and children over age 4 (5).
However, people who have a deficiency may need a larger amount.
To treat a vitamin D deficiency, a healthcare professional may recommend a vitamin D3 dosage of 6,000 IU per day or 50,000 IU per week for 8 weeks (4).
This may be followed by a maintenance dosage of 1,000–2,000 IU per day once blood levels of vitamin D are sufficiently restored (4).
Keep in mind that Persona and Care/of offer only vitamin D3 supplements that provide 1,000 IU per capsule.
Even though this dose may be appropriate for people who want to maintain already-optimal vitamin D levels, those with low or deficient vitamin D levels typically need a much higher dose to increase their vitamin D blood level to an optimal level (4).
If you have received a diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency, a healthcare professional can prescribe a high dose supplement or recommend an appropriate dosage to meet your needs.
Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, is derived from plant-based sources such as yeast and mushrooms (22).
Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, is an active form that your skin produces in response to sun exposure. It’s also found in certain animal-based foods, including egg yolks and beef liver (5, 23).
Though both forms are well absorbed and can increase blood levels of vitamin D, vitamin D3 can increase levels more significantly and for longer than vitamin D2 (5).
If you have a vitamin D deficiency, taking a supplement may be beneficial.
Many groups of people have a higher risk of deficiency, including older adults, people with dark skin tones, people with certain health conditions, and individuals who don’t regularly get sun exposure (4).
Additionally, vitamin D supplements may be recommended for those with health conditions that affect nutrient absorption, such as cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and short bowel syndrome (4).
If you suspect that you may have a vitamin D deficiency, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional to have your levels checked and determine whether a vitamin D supplement is necessary.
What is the best form of vitamin D to take?
Vitamin D supplements are available in two forms: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3.
Both forms can increase blood levels of vitamin D. However, vitamin D3 can raise vitamin D levels higher and for longer than vitamin D2, so it may be a better option (5).
Is it good to take vitamin D supplements every day?
Because your body’s fat cells can store vitamin D and release it if needed, some high dose vitamin D supplements or injections are designed to be taken just once per week or month instead of daily (2, 24).
However, taking large amounts of any supplement can be dangerous, and high dose monthly or weekly vitamin D supplements should be taken only under medical supervision.
Therefore, it’s best to check with a healthcare professional before using vitamin D supplements and to take vitamin D only as directed.
What are the signs and symptoms of low vitamin D status?
In adults, low vitamin D status can cause symptoms such as (4):
muscle or bone pain
Low vitamin D can also be related to an increased risk of osteoporosis, falls, and fractures.
In children, potential symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include (4):
Keep in mind that in some cases, vitamin D deficiency may not cause any symptoms. This can make it difficult to diagnose without a blood test (4).
Useful supplement shopping guides
Check out these two articles to help make supplement shopping a breeze:
Vitamin D is an important nutrient that plays many critical roles in your body. Because many people are deficient in this vitamin, supplements are sometimes necessary to maintain optimal levels.
The products above are among the best vitamin D supplements on the market and suit a variety of needs. Just keep in mind that. for optimal absorption, it’s best to take vitamin D supplements with a food containing fat, such as olive oil or peanut butter.
Before taking any new supplements, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional to determine whether — and how much — you need to supplement.