The Best Vitamin D Supplements of 2022, According to a Dietitian

Source Naturals Vitamin D3 is our top choice to meet your Vitamin D needs

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Best Vitamin D Supplements

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

Vitamin D is often known as the sunshine vitamin because it is the only vitamin that your body makes from exposure to the UV light from the sun. It serves as a signal throughout the body, which means it acts more like a hormone than a typical vitamin. It is also an important nutrient for bone health, since it supports calcium absorption and bone development. Beyond that, vitamin D plays a much broader role for overall health. It can influence inflammation, regulate the immune system, affect blood sugar control, and impact pregnancy outcomes.

Most of us will benefit from a vitamin D supplement. There aren’t many food sources of vitamin D, and most of us don’t get enough high quality sun exposure, especially during winter months, to make adequate vitamin D. If you don’t get much direct sun exposure, have difficulty absorbing fat, or have elevated needs due to life stages like pregnancy, you may especially benefit from adding a Vitamin D supplement.

When considering adding a Vitamin D supplement into your routine, look for quality options that have been third party tested to ensure that you are getting what is advertised on the bottle. Also, keep in mind that Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which means taking your supplement alongside a meal or snack that contains fat will help your body absorb more of the Vitamin D.

Verywell Fit Approved Vitamin D Supplements

  • Best Overall: Source Naturals Vitamin D3 is a versatile option to meet your Vitamin D needs since its liquid drop form allows you to adjust dosing easily. 
  • Best for Bone Health: TheraCal D2000 combines Vitamin D with other nutrients that are important for building strong bones so you only need one supplement. 

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and which dosage to take.

Are Vitamin D Supplements Beneficial?

Vitamin D has gotten a lot of attention in nutrition research because its role in the body is so extensive. You can get some vitamin D from foods like trout, cod liver oil, or fortified milk, though it is challenging to meet vitamin D needs from the diet alone since food sources are limited.

Ayla Barmmer, MS, RD, LDN, Founder and CEO of FullWell, notes that in our current society, most people could benefit from vitamin D supplementation, “We are no longer living primarily outside in nomadic tribes. We wear sunscreen and spend a lot more time indoors than our ancestors, which is in part why supplementation fills a gap that modern living creates.

Who May Not Benefit from Vitamin D Supplements

If you are taking the following medications, vitamin D supplementation may not be a good idea. Consult with a healthcare provider prior to starting supplementation. 

  • Statins: Vitamin D supplements could interact with some statin medications and reduce the levels of the medication circulating in the body. Some classes of statins that are metabolized differently were not affected by vitamin D, so check with a healthcare provider to discuss your options.
  • Thiazide diuretics: This medication is typically used for high blood pressure. Taking vitamin D supplements while taking this medication could result in elevated levels of calcium in the blood, especially in the elderly or those with kidney disease or hyperparathyroidism.

Best Overall: Source Naturals Vitamin D-3 Liquid Drops

Source Naturals Vitamin D-3 Liquid Drops

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Consumer Lab approved

  • Easy-to-take customizable dose

  • Pleasant flavor without added sweeteners

Cons
  • Multiple drops required for higher dosing

Source Naturals earns our top pick because it is one of the most versatile options with trustworthy quality thanks to third party testing and approval by Consumer Lab. Swallowing pills can feel cumbersome, so the liquid option can provide a nice alternative for people who also don’t love the idea of chewables.

The liquid form and concentration also allows you to customize your dose easily. Each drop provides 222 IUs, and the serving size of 9 drops provides 2000 IU. This serving size meets over 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) without exceeding the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels. It is also very cost effective at just a few cents per serving.

You can easily add these drops to your drink of choice. There is a subtle orange flavor from essential oils without any added sweeteners.

Serving Size: 9 drops | Servings Per Container: 695 | Vitamin D Dose: 2000 IU | Other Ingredients: Medium chain triglycerides, orange and lemon essential oils

Best for Bone Health: TheraCal D2000

TheraCal Bone Health Supplement

Amazon

Pros
  • NSF certified

  • Includes other minerals to support bone health

Cons
  • Expensive

When it comes to bone health, nutrients don’t work in isolation. Vitamin K, for example, has a direct role in helping to make proteins needed for bone growth. Magnesium may also play a role, as low levels of magnesium have been linked to higher rates of osteoporosis. This could be due, in part, to magnesium’s role in helping activate and metabolize vitamin D.

TheraCal acknowledges this nutrient synergy by combining Vitamin D with other minerals that support bone health such as calcium, magnesium, boron, and vitamin K. TheraCal D2000 is also NSF certified for quality and purity, making this a solid choice to get a comprehensive supplement to support bone health.

Serving Size: 2 tablets | Servings Per Container: 180 | Vitamin D Dose: 2000 IU | Other Ingredients: Calcium, magnesium, boron, Vitamin K2

Best Budget: Nature Made Vitamin D3 1000IU Softgels

Nature Made Vitamin D3 1000IU Softgels

Walmart

Pros
  • USP certified

  • Cost effective

  • 1 capsule

Cons
  • Contains gelatin

Nature Made provides vitamin D in multiple dosages at an affordable price. The 1000 IU version meets over 100% of the RDA and is a great option for those looking to supplement their diet. Those who are recovering from a vitamin D deficiency may benefit from a higher dose option, as a deficiency is usually corrected with a very high dose for a period of time and then 800-2000 IU is used as a maintenance dose to prevent future deficiency.

The capsules do contain gelatin, which could be an ingredient of concern if you are following a vegan diet since it is derived from animals. Soybean oil is another ingredient in these capsules; however, most people with soy allergies are able to tolerate soybean oil.

Serving size: 1 capsule | Servings Per Container: 100 | Vitamin D Dose: 1000 IU | Other Ingredients: Soybean oil, gelatin, glycerin

Best for Pregnancy and Fertility: FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin

FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin

Source: FullWell

Pros
  • 4000 IU of vitamin D included in comprehensive prenatal

Cons
  • 8 capsules

  • Expensive

If you are trying to conceive or currently pregnant, you’re likely aware of the importance of taking folic acid and a prenatal multivitamin, but Vitamin D should also be on your radar.

Ayla Barmmer, MS, RD, LDN, Founder and CEO of FullWell says, “I find that supplementation during preconception (both men and women), pregnancy, and breastfeeding is one of the most beneficial times because this is when adequate vitamin D status influences fertility in a number of ways as well as baby's long term immune and skeletal health.”

Instead of having to buy separate vitamin bottles for each nutrient to piece together a supportive supplement regimen, FullWell has done the combining for you. It provides a comprehensive prenatal multivitamin with a focus on optimal Vitamin D dosing for pregnancy and conception. At 8 pills, it can feel cumbersome, but it provides a 4000 IU dose of vitamin D, which recent research shows is the optimal amount to support vitamin D levels during pregnancy.

Serving Size: 8 capsules | Servings Per Container: 30 | Vitamin D Dose: 4000 IU | Other Ingredients: Prenatal vitamins and minerals

Best Chewable: Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 Gummies Sport

Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 Gummies Sport

iHerb

Pros
  • NSF certified

  • Tasty wild berry flavor

  • Vegetarian

  • Ingredients aren't organic

If you’re in search of a tastier way to meet your Vitamin D needs, a gummy option might be a good solution. Each Nordic Naturals gummy contains 1000 IU of Vitamin D, meeting over 100% of the RDA in a convenient and tasty way. It is NSF certified for Sport, meaning it meets some of the strictest standards for safety and purity and is a great choice for athletes.

Since it is a gummy, it contains a slightly more extensive ingredient list. However, we’re impressed that it only contains 2 grams of added sugars, which is a very small amount, even for those monitoring their sugar intake. It is also non-GMO, free of gluten and milk, certified vegetarian (these gummies use pectin rather than gelatin for texture), colored with fruit and vegetable juice, and free of artificial ingredients and alternative sweeteners.

Serving Size: 1 gummy | Servings Per Container: 120 | Vitamin D Dose: 1000 IU | Other Ingredients: Tapioca syrup, cane sugar, pectin

Best for Babies: Mommy's Bliss Baby Vitamin D Organic Drops

Mommy's Bliss Baby Vitamin D Organic Drops

Walmart

Pros
  • NSF certified

  • Only one drop needed

  • Organic & free of top allergens

Cons
  • Easier to overconsume

If you are breastfeeding your baby, you’ve probably heard that your child needs to take a vitamin D supplement. Unless you are supplementing yourself with a sufficiently high dose (6400 IU) for transfer via breastmilk, direct supplementation to your baby is necessary to make sure their Vitamin D levels are in a healthy range.

These drops are a great option for parents who want to supplement their baby directly. With the full daily dose of 400 IU of Vitamin D in one drop, it is a convenient option for meeting your little one’s needs. Since only one drop is needed, an overzealous squeeze could result in overconsumption of Vitamin D, but the dropper is designed to help prevent this.

With an ingredient list free of top allergens and NSF and organic certifications, it is a product parents can feel confident about.

Serving Size: 1 drop | Servings Per Container: 100 | Vitamin D Dose: 400 IU | Other Ingredients: Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil

Final Verdict

For best overall pick, versatility wins with ConsumerLab-approved Source Naturals D3 liquid drops. It is a cost-effective option that allows for complete customization. If you want to focus on supporting bone health in particular, TheraCal D2000 is a great choice. Though more expensive, it combines complementary nutrients with a therapeutic dose of Vitamin D3 for maximum benefit and comes with verified third party testing.

Vitamin D Supplements We Do Not Recommend

There is enough evidence to suggest that Vitamin D3 is the optimal, most effective, form so we recommend avoiding Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, supplements.

Potential Benefits of Vitamin D

Let’s take a look at the evidence for some of the most popular reasons you might consider adding a supplement into your routine:

  • Bone health: Vitamin D is critical to bone health and metabolism. However, the evidence on the impact of supplementation on different bone health outcomes is mixed. One recent study analysis found a positive association with vitamin D and bone health measurements such as bone mineral content and bone mineral density. However this challenges previous conclusions from other studies on bone mineral density, osteoporosis, and bone fractures that concluded there was insufficient evidence to recommend supplementation.
  • Limited sun exposure: If you live in northern climates, don’t have much time for outdoor activities, or limit direct sun exposure for any other reason, you may want to consider a supplement. Even where you work could play a role. People with primarily indoor jobs and shift workers had higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency than outdoor workers.
  • Blood sugar control: Vitamin D helps to increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that helps keeps blood sugar levels stable. Studies in people with Type 2 Diabetes showed that vitamin D supplementation helped to reduce insulin resistance which leads to better blood sugar control.
  • Pregnancy: Although the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is not elevated in pregnancy, more recent research challenges this view and suggests that supplementation doses should be higher to maintain optimal blood levels of vitamin D. Supplementation may also reduce the risk of pregnancy complications like preeclampsia.
  • Covid-19: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to more severe complications in Covid-19 infections, and studies suggest that supplementation may be effective in reducing ICU requirements. However, more high quality research is needed before advocating for high-doses of vitamin D for people with Covid-19.
  • Digestive conditions: If you have a condition that affects liver or gastrointestinal function, you may be at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency, in part due to difficulty absorbing fat. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, it relies on fat to help transport it from the digestive tract into circulation into the body.

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. We prioritize products that are third-party tested and certified by one of three independent, third party certifiers: USP, NSF, or ConsumerLab. 

It's important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend.

What to Look for in Vitamin D Supplements

Third Party Testing

Supplements that are third-party tested are sent to a lab where they are tested to ensure they contain what they say they contain and are not contaminated with specific high-risk, common contaminants. However, it’s important to note:

  • Third party testing does not test to see if a product is effective or safe for everyone, and it does not ensure the supplement will not interact with other supplements or medications.
  • Not all third-party testing is created equal. It is not uncommon for supplement companies to pay labs for certificates after conducting minimal to no testing. 
  • The third party certifications we can trust are: ConsumerLab, NSF, and USP. However, these certifications are difficult to obtain and/or expensive for manufacturers, so many companies choose not to get their products tested by one of these three organizations. 
  • Sometimes products tested by these three companies are more expensive to try to offset the cost they pay for certification.
  • Just because a supplement is not tested by one of these three companies, it does not mean it’s a bad product. We recommend doing some research on the reputability of the manufacturer, and calling up the manufacturer and their testing lab to determine their protocols and decide if you feel comfortable consuming the supplement.

Form  

Vitamin D can be found in several forms in supplements. The two most popular are ergocalciferol, or Vitamin D2, and cholecalciferol, or Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 has been shown to raise blood levels of Vitamin D more effectively than Vitamin D2. For this reason, we prefer supplements that include Vitamin D3.

Ingredients and Potential Interactions

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included, relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking.

Vitamin D supplements can have a range of ingredients. Some Vitamin D supplements combine other nutrients like calcium and magnesium. So, if you are taking a multivitamin or additional supplements, take note to ensure you are not exceeding daily limits.

Vitamin D itself could interact with certain medications such as specific statins or thiazide diuretics resulting in possible altered effectiveness of the medications or other side effects such as elevated levels of calcium in the blood.  

Vitamin D Dosage

Generally speaking, people who are not vitamin D deficient may benefit from a vitamin D supplement of 400 to 2000 IU per day, and those who are deficient will likely benefit from hire doses. Consult with a healthcare provider to decide if a supplement is beneficial for you and how much to take.

Let's further break down this recommendation. The Recommended Dietary Allowances were established primarily to provide the dose of Vitamin D required for calcium metabolism and basic bone health. However, the current RDAs are controversial, and professional organizations and clinicians recommend higher doses to support optimal Vitamin D levels and broader health outcomes. The Endocrine Society recommends 1500-2000 IU to maintain Vitamin D levels at  >30ng/ml and states that correcting deficiencies may require higher doses.

According the the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the RDAs for Vitamin D are: 

0-12 months: 400 IU

1-13 years: 600 IU

14-18 years: 600 IU

19-50 years: 600 IU

Pregnancy and Lactation: 600 IU

51-70 years: 600 IU

>70 years: 600 IU

How Much is Too Much?

Taking much Vitamin D can have a chain reaction effect causing high levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood because of Vitamin D’s role in calcium absorption. Although the current upper limits are set at 4000 IU, the evidence suggests that toxicity is rare unless much higher doses of >10,000 IU are taken over a longer duration or while taking high doses of calcium at the same time.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are side effects of vitamin D supplements?

    Side effects from standard vitamin D supplements are rare. Usually side effects are seen in cases of excessive intake that causes high levels of calcium in the blood. Symptoms include nausea, dehydration, and excessive thirst.

  • What foods have vitamin D?

    Food sources of Vitamin D include oily fish like salmon and trout, beef liver, UV treated mushrooms, egg yolks, and fortified foods like dairy and cereals.

  • What is a normal vitamin D level?

    Vitamin D deficiency is considered to be a blood level <12 ng/mL and inadequate levels are 12-20ng/mL. The goal for adequate or optimal levels of Vitamin D are >20ng/mL. However this is challenged by other research that suggests a level of at least 30ng/mL is associated with better outcomes such as cancer prevention and improved bone mineral density.

    The nutritionists that we consulted with for this article recommend aiming for a minimum of 50ng/mL which is well within the suggested upper limit of 100ng/mL put forth by the Endocrine Society, although it exceeds the more conservative guidelines from the Institute of Medicine.

  • How soon will I feel better after taking vitamin D?

    Theoretically, the first step is to achieve optimal blood levels of vitamin D, which takes different amounts of time depending on the severity of the deficiency, the vitamin D dosage, and how each individual’s body responds to supplementing.

    Danielle Aberman RDN, CHWC and co-owner of Migraine Strong LLC, has observed that individuals can respond differently to supplementation, “Monitoring is important, as some people easily increase levels while others need higher daily or weekly doses to get their Vitamin D level to budge.”

  • Are vitamin D and D3 the same thing?

    Vitamin D is a collective term that applies to all of the different forms of the nutrient. Vitamin D3 is one of those specific forms called cholecalciferol. Compared to Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, it has been shown to be more effective in improving Vitamin D levels.

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