The 8 Best Vitamin D Supplements of 2021, According to a Dietitian

How to choose a Vitamin D supplement that is right for you

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Best Vitamin D Supplements

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

Although we call Vitamin D a vitamin, it really is not a vitamin at all, but a hormone. Vitamins are substances that the body needs in small amounts from food because we cannot synthesize them independently. Vitamin D differs from other vitamins because the body can make it with exposure to sunlight.

“Vitamin D is a very important complex molecule that participates in multiple biochemical processes in the body. When Vitamin D is not present, these biochemical processes cannot be completed and therefore their functions will not be possible," says Dr. Alejandro Junger, MD, an LA-based cardiologist and founder and Medical Director of the Clean Program. These biochemical processes include some of the most important systems in the body, "your cardiovascular, nervous system, hormonal system, defense and repair, and other bodily functions all depend on adequate vitamin D levels,” says Dr. Junger.

Unfortunately, Vitamin D intake is widely insufficient throughout the United States. Low Vitamin D intake can be caused by poor diet, lack of sun exposure, and malabsorption issues. It is important to note that in order to maximize the use of the following supplements, these products should be taken with meals to support adequate absorption. As always, speak with your health care provider before adding a supplement to your routine.

What to Look for in a Vitamin D Supplement

Form:

Supplemental vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). They differ in chemistry but also in manufacturing. Supplement forms of D2 are derived from plant-based yeast or fungi, whereas supplemental D3 is usually made from animal-sourced lanolin.

Other Ingredients:

Some vitamin D supplements contain calcium or other complementary ingredients. Always read the label to check what is in the supplement and consider all the supplements and medications you take. Speak with a physician to ensure you are not exceeding a recommended dose.

Fat source:

Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is absorbed along with fats in the diet and is stored in the fatty tissue of the body and the liver. Taking a vitamin D supplement with a source of fat enhances absorption. Some vitamin D supplements are encapsulated with a fat source, such as olive oil.

Vitamin D Dosage

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.

RDA for Vitamin D is as follows:

  • Babies 0-12 months - 400 IU/day (10 mcg)
  • Children and adults ages 1 to 70 (including pregnant and lactating women) - 600 IU/day (15 mcg) per day
  • Adults ages 70+ - 800 IU/day (20 mcg)

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does vitamin D do in the body?

    Vitamin D is involved in many essential processes in the human body, including calcium regulation, cell growth, immune response, bone health, and glucose metabolism. One of the most important roles of Vitamin D in the body is promoting calcium absorption in the digestive tract and maintaining serum calcium and phosphate levels within the normal range. Calcium regulation is the primary mechanism behind involuntary muscle contractions, including those of the heart. Additionally, Vitamin D works with calcium to support optimal bone growth and maintenance.

    The relationship between vitamin D and the reduction of inflammation in immune response has been an important area of study. Evidence suggests that individuals low in vitamin D may be at higher risk for unfavorable outcomes of disease and infection. Research also shows that maintaining adequate vitamin D levels may be an effective intervention for the prevention of insulin resistance diseases like diabetes.

  • Can you take too much vitamin D?

    Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means our body can store it, and therefore there is a risk of vitamin D toxicity with over-supplementation. Toxic levels of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia (high serum calcium levels) which can cause symptoms including nausea, vomiting, dehydration, and loss of appetite. In extreme cases, excessive vitamin D intake from supplements can cause the calcification (or hardening) of soft tissue, leading to organ failure.

    Defined by the National Food and Nutrition Board, the ULs (Tolerable Upper Intake Levels) for vitamin D for men and women over the age of 19 is 100 micrograms (4,000 IU). The RDA for men and women between the ages of 18 and 70 years old is 15 micrograms (600 IU).

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, as well as clinically tested and approved for use in humans. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. These attributes include non-GMO, Organic, and allergy-friendly products that are free of most artificial ingredients including colors, flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners. When possible, we recommend products that are third-party tested and certified.

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.

Here are the best Vitamin D supplements for your dietary needs.

Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3-25 mcg

Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3-25 mcg
Pros
  • Encapsulated with extra virgin olive oil for better absorption

Cons
  • Ingredients aren't organic

Nordic Naturals D3 1,000 IU is an excellent product that is budget-friendly, non-GMO, and third-party tested. It's also free of gluten, dairy, and additives. The mini soft-gels are easy to swallow, which is perfect for those who have trouble swallowing pills.

Each soft gel contains 1,000 IU, or 125%, of the RDA for vitamin D. The easily assimilated form of vitamin D is encapsulated with organic, extra virgin olive oil, flavored with natural orange, and preserved with rosemary extract.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) | Vegan: No | Gluten Free: Yes | Organic: No | Non-GMO: Yes | Additives: None

Nature Made Vitamin D3 2000 IU

Nature Made Vitamin D3 2000 IU
Pros
  • Affordable

  • Encapsulated with soybean oil for better absorption

Cons
  • Not made with organic or non-GMO ingredients

If you're looking for a budget-friendly D3 supplement that ranks highest in quality, Nature Made is an excellent choice. The USP-Verified supplement is trusted for its potency and dependable quality, and as a brand, Nature Made is known for creating affordable and effective vitamins. Each easy-to-swallow softgel contains 2,000 IU of highly bioavailable vitamin D3.

Research suggests that vitamin D supports the innate immune system, or body's first line of defense against pathogens. Adding a supplement like Nature Made's D3 may help to support your immunity.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) | Vegan: No | Gluten Free: Yes | Organic: No | Non-GMO: No | Additives: None

Pros
  • Affordable

  • Encapsulated with extra virgin olive oil for better absorption

Cons
  • Dose above the upper limit (UL); may not be indicated for all consumers

Although there are some concerns that too much vitamin D can be bad for your health, some believe that more is better. NatureWise Vitamin D3 5,000 IU is a great option for anyone looking to improve their Vitamin D levels without taking a supplement daily. Unlike a dose of 1,000 or 2,000 IU that can be taken every day, a higher dose of 5,000 IU could be taken every other day, or a few times per week, which is nice for anyone who may have trouble with supplement compliance.

Naturewise boosts the efficacy of each capsule by combining organic extra-virgin olive oil with the D3 to support absorption. Non-GMO and gluten-free, Naturewise also claims to use third-party laboratories to test their products for quality assurance. 

Because this dose is above the upper limit, you should consult with your registered dietitian or physician on how to take it and if it is right for you.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) | Vegan: No | Gluten Free: Yes | Organic: No | Non-GMO: Yes | Additives: None

Caltrate Calcium and Vitamin D Supplement Tablet

Caltrate Calcium and Vitamin D Supplement Tablet
Pros
  • Vitamin D + Calcium promotes bone health 

Cons
  • Not third-party tested

Calcium and vitamin D go hand-in-hand when it comes to supporting healthy bones. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, so the combination of the two nutrients into one tablet makes sense. Beyond bones, this combo may also help promote healthy nerves, hormones, and teeth.

Caltrate combines 800 IU of vitamin D3 with 600 milligrams of calcium, making this product a great choice for bone health. More than half of American women don’t get enough calcium, so this is a convenient way to make sure you do. If you are someone who consumes dairy three to four times per day and takes a multivitamin, you may be consuming too much calcium with this supplement. It is important to note that the upper tolerable level (UL) for calcium is 2,000-2,500 mg per day for adults 19-50 and over 50 years old respectively.

Although Caltrate is not third-party tested, we like this Vitamin D supplement for its formula which promotes healthy bones, teeth, nerves, and hormones. Caltrate supplements are backed by 25 years of nutritional science and have been used in clinical studies.

Key Nutrients: Calcium Carbonate and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) | Vegan: No | Gluten Free: Yes | Organic: No | Non-GMO: No | Additives: Artificial colors

Good to Know

If taking multiple supplements, it is always important to add up the amounts of a single nutrient across products, take an inventory of your diet, and check with a health professional to make sure you are not consuming too much of one thing. 

Pros
  • Free of common allergens

  • Free of unnecessary additives

  • Ingredients aren't organic

Although their supplements are not third-party tested, Solgar has been in the dietary supplement industry for over 70 years and is a trusted source for supplements that are free of harmful additives and common allergens. Solgar’s vitamin D3 1,000 IU is a fabulous option for those who want to supplement a wholesome diet and lifestyle. Each soft gel contains 1,000 IU—or 250%—of the RDA for vitamin D.

Vitamin D is especially important as you age. Research has suggested that vitamin D3 may help reduce the risk of falls, while vitamin D coupled with a calcium supplement shows promise in reducing fractures.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) | Vegan: No | Gluten Free: Yes | Organic: No | Non-GMO: No | Additives: Artificial colors

MegaFood Vitamin D3 Tablets

MegaFood Vitamin D3 Tablets
Pros
  • Paired with whole food extracts for maximum absorption

Cons
  • High dose of Vitamin D3 might not be indicated for every consumer

Megafood is one of the most trusted brands in the supplement industry because of its commitment to transparency, so we like this product even though it is not third-party tested. Consumers can head to Megafood’s website and observe product production live 24/7. In order to establish maximum efficacy of this supplement, Megafood combines the vitamin D3 with extracts from whole foods such as broccoli leaf, brown rice, parsley, carrot, and beetroot to supply the necessary cofactors that support D3 absorption. 

Each tablet contains 50 micrograms, or 2,000 IU, of fermented vitamin D3. The product is Non-GMO Project Verified, tested for over 125 herbicides and pesticides, and free of dairy, soy, and NSF-certified gluten-free.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) | Vegan: No | Gluten Free: Yes | Organic: No | Non-GMO: No | Additives: None

Pros
  • Vitamin D3 encapsulated with MCT oil for better absorption

Cons
  • Dose above the upper limit (UL); may not be indicated for all consumers

If you're searching for the best gluten-free Vitamin D supplement, Country Life vitamin D3 is a top pick. The Certified Gluten-Free supplement is also free of yeast, corn, wheat, soy, milk, salt, sugar, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. We like that it is Certified Gluten-Free, even though it is not third-party tested. Each Non-GMO soft gel contains 2,500 IU of vitamin D3 from lanolin, a sustainable and safe source.

Choosing Country Life vitamin D3 promotes optimal bone health and the health of the planet. The vitamins are manufactured with renewable energy and meet the standards for FDA's GMP standards.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) | Vegan: No | Gluten Free: Yes | Organic: No | Non-GMO: Yes | Additives: None

Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 Gummies

Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 Gummies
Pros
  • Just 2 grams of added sugar per serving

  • Sweetened naturally

Cons
  • Not made with a fat source, which could enhance absorption

Gummies are an easy and delicious way to get the vitamin D you need for healthy bones, a mood boost, and optimal immunity. Each of Nordic Naturals' great-tasting, wild-berry flavored gummies provides 1,000 IU of vitamin D3.

While these gummies contain two grams of added sugar per serving, the forms of sweeteners used—organic tapioca syrup and cane sugar—are preferable to artificial sweeteners. These top-quality gummies are also non-GMO Verified, third-party purity tested, and NSF-Certified.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) | Vegan: No | Gluten Free: Yes | Organic: No | Non-GMO: Yes | Additives: None

Final Verdict

For an excellent vitamin D supplement, try Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 (view at Amazon). The small softgels are easy to swallow and contain high-quality organic, extra virgin olive oil to aid absorption.

We also love Nature Made Vitamin D3 (view at Amazon) for an even more affordable option. Each softgel has a higher dose of vitamin D3 and there are more capsules per bottle. 

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11 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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