Are you getting enough D? (Ummm, we mean vitamin D.) Well you better check because you need it for calcium and phosphorus absorption, bone health, and muscle growth and development.
Your bod makes it when exposed to sunlight (and can get it from some foods), but sometimes you still might not get enough. In fact, about 1 billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency. And about 50 percent of the population has an insufficiency (meaning they don’t have a full deficiency, but they’re definitely not getting enough vitamin D).
Thankfully, if you aren’t getting enough of the D, you can take an over-the- counter (OTC) supplement. Not sure which one you should take? We got you — here’s a list of the best vitamin D supplements to take when the sun just ain’t cutting it.
How we chose our best-Ds
Knowing this is something you’re going to be putting in your bod, we held our picks to high standards. Here are the criteria we used:
We put all of our products through a rigorous medical and business vetting process. This process checks whether companies are doing anything shady (like saying its products cure certain diseases), if their products use evidence- based ingredients, and if they’ve received any FDA/FTC warning letters. We only included products from companies that passed this process and have strict standards for quality and purity.
There are actually two forms of vitamin D — D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). The only difference is in the chemical side chains, but both are well absorbed in the gut. Supplements can be made with either D2 or D3, but most research shows that vitamin D3 increases the level of vitamin D in your blood to a greater extent and for longer than D2 does. For that reason, we only included vitamin D3 supplements.
Supplements are a dime a dozen — one Google search will show you thousands to choose from. We chose products that had great reviews from A LOT of people.
Best vitamin D supplements
Best vitamin D and multivitamin combo
1. Ritual Essential Multivitamin Capsule — 60 count
- Price: $$$
- Supplement type: capsule
Instead of being jam packed with every vitamin and mineral under the sun, this multivitamin was developed to fill nutrient gaps according to your sex and age. The company’s motto is “less is more” — so you aren’t getting unnecessary nutrients that you’re likely getting plenty of from the food you eat.
Considerations: Before taking any supplement it’s important to check with a healthcare professional. If they’ve given you the thumbs up on a vitamin D supplement, but you’re wanting to go with the multivitamin combo, get another thumbs up for the rest of the vitamins included in this all-in-one option.
How to take it: Take 2 capsules per day to receive 2000 IU (50 micrograms / mcg) of vitamin D for both men and women.
Best subscription service vitamin D
2. Care/Of Vitamin D Capsule — 30 day supply
- Price: $–$$$ (various)
- Supplement type: capsule
Take a quick quiz and you have all your nutrient needs personalized based on your answers. Care/Of offers two vitamin D options: vegan D3 — which is sourced from algae — and a regular D3 (both 1000 IU or 25 mcg).
Considerations: As fun as it is to rip open a personalized vitamin pouch with your name on it, this kind of service might end up costing you more money than taking a vitamin D supp on its own.
How to take it: 1 a day capsule (1000 IU or 25 mcg) with a meal
3. Persona Vitamin D Capsule — 28 day supply
Another subscription-based company that has you complete a quick questionnaire to determine your personalized vitamin and mineral needs. Persona provides 3 vitamin D options:
- Vitamin D: contains 1000 IU (25 mcg) in a gelatin capsule form
- Vegan Vitamin D: contains 1000 IU (25 mcg) in a vegan-friendly softgel
- DHA with Vitamin D: combines both heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids (225 mg DHA and 42 mg EPA) and vitamin D (1000 IU or 25 mcg).
Considerations: Again, going the ultra-personalized route can wind up being costly since you get what’s tailored to you sent right to your door. So while it’s convenient (and cool AF), it’s prob cheaper just ordering a vitamin D supplement.
How to take it: 1 capsule every day to get in 1000 IU (25 mcg) of vitamin D
Best vitamin D liquid softgel
4. Sports Research Vitamin D3 Softgels — 360 count
- Price: $$
- Supplement type: softgel
This one will last you an entire year — at a reasonable price, too. Plus, it’s made without gluten, soy, or GMOs.
Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, consuming it with a fatty meal can help your body absorb the vitamin. A 2015 study found that plasma vitamin D3 levels were 32 percent greater in people who took the supplement with a fat-containing meal compared to a fat-free meal. This specific supplement is infused with coconut oil, so the fat comes along with it!
Considerations: Although the addition of coconut oil can help with absorption, it also means that folks with an allergy to tree nuts may need to choose a different D3 supplement. If you’re allergic to nuts, steer clear unless your doctor gives the OK.
How to take it: Take 1 softgel per day, which provides 5,000 IU (125 mcg) of vitamin D.
5. NatureWise Vitamin D3 Softgels — 360 count
This D3 supplement uses cold-pressed organic olive oil to help with absorption, so this softgel is a better option for people with tree nut allergies. It’s also free of the top eight major food allergens: wheat, soy, dairy, corn, eggs, peanuts, fish, and shellfish.
Considerations: One downside is that this product isn’t vegan — the capsules are made with gelatin.
How to take it: Take 1 softgel per day for 5,000 IU (125 mcg) of vitamin D3.
Best vitamin D chewable tablets
6. Carlyle Chewable D3 Tablets (Natural Berry Flavor) — 180 count
- Price: $
- Supplement type: chewable tablet
These chewables are packaged in the USA and made in an FDA-regulated facility. With each chewable tablet, you’ll get 2,000 IU of vitamin D without any gluten, lactose, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors or colors.
A lot of reviewers say these vitamins are super easy to chew, since they’re small and have a tolerable flavor.
Considerations: These vitamins contain artificial sugar to keep them from tasting like bitter chalk. Artificial sugars are regulated by the FDA but can cause digestive issues for some people who are more sensitive to them.
How to take it: Take 1 tablet per day with a meal — this will provide 2,000 IU (50 mcg) of vitamin D.
Best vitamin D gummies
7. Mama Bear Organic Kids Vitamin D3 Gummies — 80 count
- Price: $
- Supplement type: gummy
Want a gummy supplement that tastes like candy but is actually good for you and any kiddos? These organic fruity gummies include strawberry, lemon, and orange flavors and support strong bones and immune health. Even though they’re advertised as kids’ vitamins, we promise they’ll benefit you too (and we won’t tell 🤫).
Considerations: These gummies have a bit of added sugar (1 gram, to be exact) to make them tolerable for the little ones. They also use organic natural flavors and colors.
How to take it: Adults and kids age 2 and older can take 1 gummy daily for 1,000 IU of D3.
8. Nature’s Way Alive! Calcium + D3 Gummies — 60 count
The addition of calcium and fruit/veggie powder sets this supplement apart to give your bones some extra love. Like vitamin D, calcium is important for strong bones — and your body needs vitamin D to help it absorb calcium. These gummies are also gelatin-free and gluten-free.
Considerations: Due to the ingredients, a 2-gummy dose contains 25 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates. And you’ll need to stock up on these — with 60 gummies per container and a dosage of 2 gummies twice a day, you’ll go through them quickly.
How to take it: Take 2 gummies (2,000 IU of D3 and 520 mg of calcium total) twice daily, with or without food.
Best vitamin D capsule
9. NOW High Potency Vitamin D3 Softgels — 120 count
- Price: $
- Supplement type: softgel
If you’re forgetful, you’ll like that you only have to take this supplement once every 2 days. They also come from a brand that’s known for high quality supplements and they’re free of the top eight allergens.
Considerations: If you’re vegetarian or vegan, this one is a no-go since it’s made with bovine gelatin.
How to take it: Take 1 capsule (5,000 IU or 125 mcg) every 2 days with a fat- containing meal.
Best vitamin D drops
10. Thorne Vitamin D/K2 Liquid — 1 fluid ounce
- Price: $$$
- Supplement type: liquid
You get two fat-soluble vitamins in one with vitamin K and D in this liquid. A 2017 review found that having optimal intake of both K and D was important for bone and cardiovascular health.
This product is also free of the major allergens and has simple dosing that can make it easy to use for both kids and adults.
Considerations: Due to the addition of vitamin K, this may not be a good option for you if you’re on blood-thinning medication. Vitamin K can counteract the effects of those medications.
How to take it: Take 2 drops one to three times daily (2 drops contain 1,000 IU or 25 mcg of vitamin D3).
Best vegan vitamin D supplement
11. Naturelo Vitamin D3 Capsules — 180 count
- Price: $$$
- Supplement type: capsule
A lot of vitamin D3 supplements are made from lanolin (sheep’s wool), but that just doesn’t work in the vegan lifestyle. This supplement is made from wild- harvested lichen, which is a fungus. Since fungi grow outdoors, they’re exposed to UVB rays. 😎
This product also doesn’t contain GMOs, soy, gluten, dairy, corn, nuts, additives, preservatives, or coloring.
Considerations: It comes only in capsule form, which some people may not prefer, and it’s one of the pricier options on our list.
How to take it: Take 1 capsule daily with food (5,000 IU or 125 mcg).
12. Garden of Life mykind Organics Vegan D3 Chewable Tablets (Raspberry-Lemon Flavor) — 30 count
If capsules aren’t your thing, these chewables are certified organic, non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free. They contain a mixture of lichen and organic mushroom for D3. Mushrooms could contain more than 10 micrograms of vitamin D, depending on their UV exposure.
This product also contains an organic food blend (a mixture of flaxseed, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach) for added nutrients. Even the raspberry- lemon flavor is created with organic flavoring and no added sugar or artificial sweetener.
Considerations: The quantity is on the small side. With only a 30-day supply, you’ll need to reorder more often.
How to take it: Chew 1 tablet daily, which will give you 5,000 IU (50 mcg) of vitamin D.
Why should I be getting the D?
The sun doesn’t shine all the time, and it’s possible you don’t always get enough vitamin D from food. If you live in a place where it rains, sleets, and snows, it’s not always possible to get enough vitamin D from the sun.
Certain individuals and populations are also at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, including:
- older adults
- people with higher body weight
- people in nursing homes or hospitals
- people with higher skin melanin (darker skin tones)
Another challenge: Your body needs UVB radiation in order to absorb sunlight and convert it to usable vitamin D3. UV radiation is considered a carcinogen and is one of the biggest reasons for skin cancer. Using sunscreen blocks UV exposure, which reduces your risk of cancer but also blocks some vitamin D-producing UV rays.
Signs of deficiency
When you’re deficient in vitamin D, your body will give you a heads up. Some common symptoms you may notice if your levels are too low include:
- getting sick frequently
- feeling tired
- bone and muscle pain
- bone loss
- hair loss
Many of these symptoms could be coming from other issues too, so getting your blood levels checked can determine if you’re deficient.
How to choose the right vitamin D supplement for you
Before diving into the world of vitamin D supplementation, call up your doctor and get your blood levels tested. This is the only way you’ll know if you have a vitamin D deficiency. From there, your doc will be able to determine a dose that’s ideal for you.
You may have noticed that all the vitamin D supplements on this list surpass the recommended intakes we mentioned earlier. There’s also a daily upper limit of 100 mcg (4,000 IU) for children over 9 years old, adults, and folks who are pregnant or breastfeeding. A severe deficiency sometimes requires a larger dose at first, followed by maintenance dosage.
When you browse this list or go shopping for a vitamin D supplement, consider your specific needs. Do you prefer capsules, gummies, or liquid? There are a bunch of options, so pick one that works with your current routine and preferences.
It’s also important to pay close attention to ingredients so you don’t choose a product that contains something you’re allergic to or that you avoid for personal reasons. Third-party certifications like United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) are also a bonus!
How and when to take vitamin D supplements
So what’s the best way to take vitamin D supplements?
Even if a supplement says you can take it on an empty belly, vitamin D seems to do best with a meal. This is especially true when paired with a meal higher in fat. One study showed adults taking vitamin D with a fat-heavy meal had a 32 percent boost in vitamin D blood levels after 12 hours compared to those taking the supp with a fat-free meal.
Should you take vitamin D morning, noon, or night? Honestly, it’s up to you and your preferences. There seems to be no “ideal” time, although some research claims it may be best to take in the morning rather than at night. That’s because increased vitamin D levels may suppress melatonin — the hormone responsible for regulating our snooze cycle — according to a 2018 article.
If you’re an expecting mama, vitamin D is usually recommended to be part of your daily supplement routine. You should confirm with your doctor how much is safe for you, specifically.
Side effects of taking vitamin D supplements
When your body needs vitamin D and you’re taking the proper dosage, chances are you won’t experience any side effects.
On the other hand, because Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (which means your body stores excess if you take too much rather than peeing it out), taking too much long-term can cause excessive build-up in your body and bring about some unwanted side effects.
These could include:
- poor appetite
- stomach pain
- constipation or diarrhea
- bone loss
- kidney problems
tl;dr: Always talk with a doctor before starting a vitamin D supplement (or any supplement, really).
Other ways to get vitamin D
If you’re not ready to hop on the supplement train, you’re able to get in vitamin D through food and sunshine (although it’s a little more complicated). There aren’t many foods that naturally contain vitamin D, but the National Institute of Health stating fatty fish and fish oils are among the best sources. The top 3 food sources include:
- Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon: 1360 IU (34 mcg)
- Rainbow trout, 3 ounces: 645 IU (16.2 mcg)
- Sockeye salmon, 3 ounces: 570 IU (14.2 mcg)
Your skin also absorbs UV rays from the sun and coverts it into vitamin D. The amount you get is all dependent on time of day, cloud coverage, skin melanin, and sunscreen. Some researchers claim getting outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for about 5 to 30 minutes twice per week will lead to sufficient vitamin D synthesis.
The bottom line
If the sun ain’t shining (or you’re a stay-in-the-shade type), a vitamin D supplement can be a super effective way to meet your daily D needs. Just remember to check with your doctor to get the A-OK before you start taking a vitamin D supplement in the first place and figure out what dosage you need. Once you confirm that you definitely need the D (😏 ), use this list as your starting point for finding the supp that suits you best.
Read more on: vitamin d
Start your journey to healthy skin in 2 minutes