Vitamin D is a vitamin that is more well-known for its source than it is for its use in the body. While pretty much everyone knows that we can obtain vitamin D from exposure to the sun, even scientists still aren’t quite sure how it works within the body. After years of ongoing research, we know that vitamin D assists the body to absorb calcium, and we also know that it has a number of other benefits that can affect our overall health, but we still don’t know how it goes about do that.
There have been a number of studies over the past few years that claim vitamin D can positively affect Alzheimer’s disease, heart health, cancer, and many other ailments, but there have also been a number of reports which checked into these claims and did not find them to be viable. While there are some doctors who believe that the population as a whole does not have enough vitamin D, there are others who warn against taking too much of it.
Unfortunately, your body doesn’t have any way of making vitamin D on its own without some form of outside input. It can synthesize the vitamin naturally if you get enough sunlight, but otherwise, you’ll need to take a supplement or source it from your diet. This naturally means that those who live in colder climates that don’t get as much sunlight will be at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency and are more likely to need supplements.
Top 10 Vitamin D Supplements Of 2018
We have reviewed many of the vitamin D supplements available on the market and have selected 10 that we believe to be the best options for most users. Some of these are better than others, so we’ll take a closer look at each one to help you choose the right one for your needs:
1. Nature Made Adult Chewable D3
Nature Made offers a variety of popular supplements, including a vitamin D3 supplement that is available as a capsule. However, many people do not like to swallow pills, and this makes their chewable vitamin D3 supplement more popular. Unfortunately, many vitamin D supplements that are not in capsule form suffer from problems related to their delivery method, no matter how popular they may be.
Vitamin D3 is fat-soluble, meaning that it takes a good number of additives to get it to stay solid in a chewable form, much less look appealing and taste good, too. Nature Made Adult Chewable D3 uses sucralose and sorbitol as sweeteners and includes a number of other artificial flavorings. It uses red dye #40 to color each tablet, and there have even been a few questions in the past regarding its safety. However, it’s important to note that the United States Food and Drug Administration has deemed the product safe for use.
The label of Nature Made Adult Chewable D3 claims that it can deliver a 1000 IU per tablet, but independent lab testing found that this dosage is nowhere near accurate. It actually only delivers about 60 percent of that dose, which goes to prove just how difficult it can be to ensure the correct amounts and doses when you are dealing with chewable tablets.
Even this lower proven dose is still plenty for most people, and the fact that it’s chewable is enough of a benefit for many users to overlook the artificial additives needed to make that happen. Because of that, it does make the cut, but there are plenty of other vitamin D supplements that have more accurate dosages and don’t include so many unnecessary extras.
2. Vitafusion Vitamin D3 Gummies
People love vitamins that are easy to take and taste good, which is perhaps why gummy vitamins are even more popular than chewables. Vitafusion understands this truth, and this knowledge makes them one of the top online providers of daily vitamin supplements. Unfortunately, as we’ve noted above, it’s much harder to actually control the dosage of gummy or chewable vitamins when compared to capsules, and this has given Vitafusion a less-than-ideal track record.
Each Vitafusion Vitamin D3 Gummy can provide you with 166 percent of your daily recommended dosage, or about 1000 IU. They do a better job of avoiding unnecessary additives, and they using natural agents for flavoring, along with sugar as a sweetener and fruit extracts for coloring. For those on an aggressively low-carb diet, the sugar in this supplement may not make it a good choice, and there are plenty of other sugar-free options on the market.
Unfortunately, the poor reputation Vitafusion has for manufacturing quality isn’t exactly refuted by this supplement’s independent lab testing, and the average gummy actually has about 40 percent more vitamin D than it’s supposed to. This is a lot better than containing less, but it still raises questions about the amount of control the company might have over what goes into the supplement.
It’s quite possible to find other good sources of vitamin D, so we’d only suggest this one if you just absolutely must have your vitamin D in gummy form.
3. Thorne Research Vitamin D-1000
Thorne Research Vitamin D-1000 seems like a pretty run-of-the-mill vitamin D supplement at first glance, but it does have one thing you won’t find everywhere. It delivers a 1000 IU dose of vitamin D in a cellulose-based capsule that is vegan-friendly, and it also contains an extra ingredient that many vitamin D supplements do not: leucine. Leucine is an amino acid that is a vital component in protein synthesis.
At first, choosing to include leucine in this vitamin D supplement may not seem to make very much sense, but it’s possible that Thorne Research might actually be on the right track here. A study performed on elderly patients in 2015 discovered that adding whey protein and leucine alongside the vitamin D supplements taken by the subjects could actually reduce the chances of muscle loss from sarcopenia.
It’s still not entirely clear to us why this combination works in this way, but it does give Thorne Research Vitamin D a unique benefit that you won’t find elsewhere. If you’re getting older and you want to help ward off the muscle loss that can occur due to sarcopenia, this may be the right vitamin D supplement for you. With that in mind, the benefits could probably be closer to those seen in the scientific study if the dose of leucine were a bit higher.
If you’re a stickler for perfect dosage, then this supplement might not be your best choice. Independent lab testing showed that each capsule contained as much as 1300 IU, which is far more vitamin D than the label suggests. Thorne Research usually makes smaller batches that are of higher quality than many other companies, so it’s unusual to see this level of discrepancy from them. If the dose was more accurate, this product would be a little higher up in our rankings.
4. Now Foods Vitamin D3
Now Foods is a common brand to find at larger retailers and vitamins stores, and they are a common choice among the less complex and more affordable options. Their vitamin D3 supplement is very simple and straightforward, as well. It features 1000 IU of vitamin D in each soft gel capsule, which is dissolved in olive oil.
This is yet another supplement that doesn’t get the dosage quite right when it stands up to independent lab testing. The analysis shows that each capsule contains about 30 percent more vitamin D than it should, which puts each soft gel at about 1300 IU.
While it’s certainly better to have more than it is to have less, this doesn’t encourage confidence in Now Foods’ quality control processes. The other supplements from now Foods have had similar problems during lab testing, but in reality, this isn’t all that bad for a low-cost supplement with few ingredients.
If you want precise and perfect ingredients of the highest possible quality, this isn’t the right supplement for you. However, if you’re looking for an affordable option that’s going to get the job done, you’re in the right place.
5. Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3
Doctor’s Best is a brand with a strong reputation for purity and affordability that doesn’t sacrifice quality. Doctor’s Best Vitamin D2 is no exception to this rule, and it’s a pretty good option overall.
The supplement is available in a 2000 IU dose and a 5000 IU dose, which provide 333 percent and 833 percent of the daily recommended dose of vitamin D, respectively. This allows for you to choose which supplement works best for your personal needs, and also gives you the option to up your dosage during certain times of the year, like in winter when vitamin D levels are typically lower due to less availability of sunlight.
Doctor’s Best isn’t kidding about their purity, and the only other ingredients in these supplements are water, gelatin, and virgin olive oil. Unfortunately, Doctor’s Best supplements do not undergo any independent lab testing, so there is no way to know exactly how correct the labeled dosage is. You pretty much just have to trust in the popular reliability that Doctor’s Best is typical believed to offer in all of its products.
On the upside, this brand has a good track record and is considered trustworthy, especially when compared to other brands in the same price range.
6. NatureWise Vitamin D3
NatureWise Vitamin D3 is the top selling vitamin D supplement on Amazon, so it’s safe to say that it has a pretty good reputation. NatureWise isn’t kidding around about making sure you get enough vitamin D either, and the only dosage available is 5000 IU of vitamin D per capsule. This is significantly higher than the daily recommended dosage of about 600 IU.
Although 600 IU is the accepted daily dose, many nutritionists and scientists believe that we should be taking much higher doses, and this is because a short time of direct exposure to sunlight can cause our bodies to produce several thousand IUs of vitamin D a day. Taking this into consideration, 600 IUs a day some seem rather low.
If you agree with this deduction that we should be getting much more vitamin D per day, then this product may be a good choice for you. This is especially true if you live in an area that does not get much sunshine.
This is also a great product for those who believe in simple and straightforward products. It contains vitamin D, olive oil, glycerin, and gelatin. That’s it. The only users who are likely to dislike this ingredient list are those who wish to stick to a strictly vegetarian diet.
Each dose contains about 5000 IU of vitamin D, and each bottle contains 360 doses, so it’s safe to say that this is one of the best values in terms of vitamin D per dollar.
7. Nutrigold Vitamin D3
Nutrigold is another brand that offers two different doses of vitamin D, both of which are available in gel capsules. The smaller dose available is 1000 IU and the larger dose is 2000 IU.
Nutrigold is well-known for providing quality ingredients at affordable prices, and all of their products feature a minimalist, pure design that users love. While quality control is usually very tight on these products, independent lab testing does show that most capsules of the 1000 IU product do contain closer to 1100 IU, which amounts to a 10 percent difference from the labeled dosage.
One fact about Nutrigold that makes these products appealing to certain users is the fact that they are so committed to purity that they do not make their vitamin D products using any equipment or machinery that is also used to make products containing fish, wheat, milk, or soy.
Essentially, they are very careful not to cross-contaminate any of their products with possible allergens. This means that users who do have allergies to any of these ingredients can rest easy knowing that they do not have to worry about the purity of Nutrigold Vitamin D3.
8. Carlson Labs D3
Carson Labs isn’t as well-known because the company is much smaller than most of their competitors, and as such, they don’t command as large of a market share as most of the companies that have become successful. However, what Carson Labs lacks in size they make up for in quality, and they have truly great products.
Carson Labs D3 is pretty simple and straightforward, but it’s also a bit unique. They use corn oil and safflower as the fat source to dissolve the vitamin D and a gel capsule to deliver the 1000 IU dose.
They also do an excellent job at purity and quality control, and independent lab testing shows that the amount of vitamin D3 in each capsule is within just 2 percent of the labeled amount. This is pretty impressive when you consider the fact that many larger and more popular competitors can’t even get within 40 percent of the amount they claim to provide.
It’s true that corn oil and safflower aren’t as healthy as olive oil, but the minuscule amounts of each oil needed by Carlson Labs make it a bit overly obsessive to worry about the minor differences here. You’d have to be a pretty picky consumer to decide against this product based on which oil they are using in such small amounts.
9. Do Vitamins DailyD D3
DailyD is a vitamin D3 supplement that provides 2500 IU of vitamin D per dose, and it has 2 uniquely interesting qualities. The first key feature of this product is that it is entirely plant-based, which is very different from most of the other vitamin D supplements currently available.
It’s difficult to source vitamin D from natural sources that aren’t animal-based, and most vitamin D supplements get their D3 from sheep’s wool. There aren’t many plants that make vitamin D in significant quantities, the few that are being certain fungi like lichen and some mushrooms. These fungi can create their own vitamin D the exact same way we do, by processing sunlight.
Do Vitamins DailyD D3 sources its vitamin D from lichen. The capsule that contains the product is also made from plant cellulose. After all, it would be a total waste to go through all the effort of finding plant sources for vitamin D just to put it inside a gel capsule and make it useless to vegans and vegetarians.
The second key feature of this product is that, as a Do Vitamins product, it carried the “Tested for Sport” certification from LabDoor. This certification checks to make sure that there is no cross-contamination or outright inclusion of banned substances like steroids or other doping agents. While it’s true that the chances of any vitamin D supplement including any of these ingredients, it’s still nice to have the extra peace of mind.
This added value is actually very important for athletes who participate in any sports that utilize drug tests, such as weightlifting, bodybuilding, road racing, triathlons, and all of the NCAA sports. When we support vitamins and supplements that have been tested and approved for sports, it also encourages other companies to follow suit. This helps to reduce or even eliminate the issue of contaminants in many supplements.
The only real drawback to this supplement is that it does have such special sourcing and certification, which means it is obviously going to be a bit more expensive than the average vitamin D supplement. However, if you’re a serious athlete or a devoted vegan, it’s likely that the benefits of this product are worth the extra expense to you.
10. Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3
Nordic Naturals is a vitamin and supplements brand that is most well-known for their fish oil supplements. However, they have recently branched out a bit and are now offering vitamin D supplements, as well. Considering the fact that it is rather difficult to synthesize enough vitamin D from sunlight in Scandinavia, this actually makes sense.
At any rate, Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 is a great source of vitamin D that is highly concentrated and includes some trademark oils to facilitate fat-solubility. Each dose comes in a soft gel that contains a whopping 5000 IU of the vitamin, which is dissolved not just in olive oil but also in oleic acid, one of the omega-9 fatty acids. This combination is thought to provide extra benefits for heart health.
Nordic Naturals is also excellent in terms of purity. Independent lab testing places the true amount of vitamin D in each capsule within 10 percent of the labeled amount, at not more than 1010 IU each. Each soft gel is flavored naturally with orange extract and preserved naturally with rosemary extract. This prevents any needs for synthetic or artificial ingredients.
The only users for whom we would not emphatically recommend Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 are vegetarian and vegans because the soft gel capsule is made from gelatin. For everyone else, this product is an excellent choice and ranks very highly on our list of recommendations.
How Can You Benefit From A Vitamin D Supplement?
Vitamin D does a lot of work in the body that we don’t fully understand yet, but one thing we do know is that vitamin D is a big help with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. This reason by itself is enough to make it 100 percent vital for us to get enough vitamin D every day. Calcium is a crucial building component of our bones, and without it, our bone health goes downhill fast. This means that, by proxy, vitamin D is essential for strong, healthy bones.
Aside from its role in calcium absorption, the other possible effects of vitamin D on your overall health are still being debated. There seem to be a number of other benefits that it can provide for your body, but there just isn’t enough data to fully support any one benefit or another as being fully understood.
Why Do You Need Vitamin D Supplements?
There are many scientists who believe that as many as 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency. There are only a few sources for vitamin D in our diet, such as egg yolks, mushrooms, cheese, and beef liver, and all of these sources only provide us with very small amounts of the vitamin.
Fatty fish can provide a little bit more vitamin D, but the best source overall is fortified milk. You could get direct sunlight for at least 15 minutes each day. However, if neither of these options is available to you, then you will need to take vitamin D supplements if you want to get your daily recommended dose.
It’s honestly quite hard to get enough vitamin D purely from the food you eat, and it can be just as difficult getting enough sunlight depending on where you live and what time of year it is. In addition, if you have darker skin then you need even more sunlight for your body to make the same amount of vitamin D. If you’re getting older, you will also find it hard to get enough vitamin D simply because we need more and more vitamin D as we age.
When you factor in all of these issues, it’s no wonder that vitamin D supplements are the most popular method people use to actively ensure they get enough of this vitamin in their daily lives.
Vitamin D Toxicity
There are many people who suffer from vitamin D deficiency, but you shouldn’t be too overzealous to compensate for this. There is also a condition known as vitamin D toxicity, which is caused when there is simply too much vitamin D in your system. You should be careful to avoid this when taking supplements, as too much supplementation is almost always the cause of vitamin D toxicity.
Vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning that it does not break up in water and requires at least a little bit of fat to be processed by the body. Unfortunately, this also makes it easier for you to overdose on. This makes it extremely important to be fully aware of your daily dosage and to make sure that you do not exceed what is known as the safe upper limit for vitamin D intake.
Unfortunately, the daily recommended dosage and the safe upper limit for vitamin D is commonly debated. The U.S. National Library of Medicine places the safe upper limit for adults at 4000 IU a day of vitamin D, while many popular vitamin D supplements purposely provide 5000 IU a day. The industry and researchers are split down the middle regarding just how much vitamin D is too much, and they can’t seem to come to a unanimous conclusion.
The safest way to ensure you get enough vitamin D without overdosing is to stick with supplements that give you about 1000 IU daily unless your doctor has prescribed another amount that is better for your specifically.
Additional Possible Benefits
As long as you are getting enough (and not too much) vitamin D, it is believed to be able to provide you with a wide array of health benefits. However, it is important to note that researchers are still in the process of determining whether the relationship between vitamin D and these benefits is one of causation or just correlation.
Getting enough vitamin D has been linked to many different health benefits, one of which is the increase in bone strength that can help to reduce the occurrence of fractures, especially for the elderly. This particular benefit is related to calcium and bone strength, and as such is widely accepted without debate.
Other benefits are not so cut and dry. Every time a new study occurs that looks into the correlation between vitamin D and a given health benefit, the media seems to catch wind of it and inflate it far beyond the proven results. One study found a very weak and thin link between lower risks for cancer and high levels of vitamin D, and the news immediately began reporting vitamin D as some sort of cancer-preventing super drug.
Another study which suggests that people who lived for longer than the average life expectancy have higher levels of vitamin D caused the media to report that getting more vitamin D can make you live longer. The problem with these sorts of statement is that there is no way to know whether higher vitamin D caused the longer life spans, the longer life spans caused increased vitamin D, or they were both caused by some other external factor.
What Do We Really Know About Vitamin D?
Luckily, not every claim that vitamin D is beneficial to your health is a trumped up media storm. There have been a number of promising and conclusive studies which were able to find out multiple ways that vitamin D can be beneficial to your health beyond just helping to strengthen bones.
Here are a few areas where there have been at least some small research findings indicating benefits from taking vitamin D supplements:
Type 1 Diabetes
One study found that children living in Venezuela were at least 400 times less likely to develop Type 1 Diabetes than children who were living in Finland. The study looked into a number of different possible causes for this and determined that the cause may be due to the significantly higher levels of sunlight available in Venezuela when compared to less sunlight in Finland, and by extension lower levels of vitamin D.
The Common Cold
In 2012, a study was performed which found that children who were given vitamin D supplements were about 50% less likely to get a cold.
The percentage of the population that has Multiple Sclerosis is significantly higher in the northern areas of the world. One study discovered that white subjects who had higher levels of vitamin D were as much as 62 percent less likely to contract the disease. However, the study did not find the same link among black subjects, even when they had high levels of vitamin D.
There was a study performed over the course of 20 years which determined that men who had low levels of vitamin D were at least twice as likely to experience a heart attack. There are many studies which draw a strong link between vitamin D and heart health, but more research is needed on the subject to determine just what that link really is.
One study from 30 years ago found that there were higher instances of colon cancer among people living in northern climates. A theory was then developed which sought to establish a link between colon cancer and vitamin D deficiency. There have been dozens of studies since that time which have supported this theory. This doesn’t necessarily constitute proof, but it’s certainly very compelling.
10 Best Vitamin D Supplements 2018 Conclusion
While there are still a lot of questions about exactly how vitamin D can help to support many different areas of your health, it is already certain that vitamin D can assist in calcium absorption and therefore help you to have strong bones. This alone is enough of a reason to consider vitamin D a vital daily nutrient.
However, it is important to remember the vitamin D toxicity is just as dangerous as vitamin d deficiency, so always remember to consult your doctor about the proper dosage for your needs.