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Vitamin D is a unique vitamin that also acts like a hormone. Because of the way your body handles it, it has a wide range of benefits, from improving bone health to keeping your immune system healthy to boosting your mood. It’s also unique because, unlike other vitamins, your body can make it with exposure to the sun. That’s why it’s nicknamed “the sunshine vitamin.” But if you live in areas that don’t get regular sun, like the Northeast, and you’re not eating enough of the few foods that naturally contain it, like egg yolks, fatty fish, and fish liver (yeah, we know), it’s likely that you’re not getting enough. That’s where vitamin D supplements come in.
It’s generally recommended to get your vitamins from food whenever possible, but at this moment, around half of the population has insufficient vitamin D. Some have full blown deficiencies, while others have levels that aren’t low enough to warrant a diagnosis, but are still concerning as far as general health goes.
Because it can be a struggle to get enough vitamin D, even with a healthy, balanced diet, a high-quality vitamin D supplement is essential for many. But with the sheer number of supplements out there, finding a high-quality supplement can feel more difficult than finding a decent movie to watch on Netflix. That’s precisely why we did the digging for you.
Here, the best vitamin D supplements on the market.
Best Drops: Thorne Research Vitamin D/K2 Liquid
Thorne Research offers another vitamin D/K2 combo, but in droplet form. Each individual drop—yes, one tiny drop—provides 500 IU of vitamin D and 100 mcg of vitamin K2. The fat soluble vitamins are dispersed in medium chain triglycerides, a high-quality fat that helps your body absorb the full amount of each vitamin, for maximum efficacy.
Even though the bottle is small, it’s definitely mighty. There are 600 servings (a serving is two drops) packed in, so one bottle will last a really long time.
Best Liquid: Quicksilver Scientific Nanoemulsified D3K2
Quicksilver Scientific is another liposomal vitamin D option that combines vitamin D3 with a highly-absorbable form of vitamin K2 called menaquinone-7, or MK-7, but it takes things one step further. The liposomes are 10 times smaller than the industry standard, meaning they can move directly from your mouth and into your bloodstream with minimal effort.
Each pump provides 2,500 IU of vitamin D3 and 90 mcg of vitamin K7 in a pleasant citrus flavor that’s easier to take, and more bioavailable, than capsules. Just squirt a pump under your tongue, preferably with a meal, hold for 30 seconds and then swallow.
Best Capsules: Designs for Health Vitamin D Complex
If liquid supplements aren’t your jam, Designs for Health also has you covered with their Vitamin D Complex, a capsule form of the vitamin that includes the whole family of fat-soluble vitamins—A, D, E and K. Each capsule holds 2,000 IU of vitamin D, along with optimized amounts of vitamins A, E, and K to ensure that your vitamin levels stay perfectly balanced and continue working in harmony.
Unlike other oral supplements that require you to take several doses throughout the day, everything you need is packed into one capsule, so even if you don’t have the easiest time swallowing pills, you’ll only have to do it once per day.
Best High Dose: Metagenics D3 10,000+K
Metagenics pulled out all the stops with their D3 10,000+K. Designed for people with known vitamin D deficiency, each soft gel contains a whopping 10,000 IU of vitamin D—about 12 to 16 times more than the current recommended daily amount—in a highly absorbable form that can boost your levels fast.
Keep in mind that high-dose vitamin D like this one should only be taken under the supervision of a medical professional after you’ve had your vitamin D levels properly tested. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, it can build up in your body and lead to toxicity if you take too much without regularly monitoring your levels.
Best Gummies: Nordic Naturals Zero Sugar Vitamin D3 Gummies
If you’re still reminiscing on your Flintstone vitamin days, the Nordic Naturals Zero Sugar Vitamin D3 Gummies offer some nostalgia along with 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 per gummy. Unlike other options, which can have 2 grams of added sugar per dose, these wild berry flavored gummies are completely sugar free. They’re also made with pectin, instead of gelatin, so they’re a tasty complement to any vegan, low-carb, keto, or gluten-free diet.
Best Vegan: Garden of Life mykind Organics Vegan D3 Chewable
Most vitamin D supplements are made from lanolin, which is a fancy name for the fatty substance that comes from the sebaceous glands of sheep. Okay, maybe that’s information that you could have done without, but the point is: lanolin isn’t vegan-friendly. That’s why Garden of Life developed their mykind Organics Vegan D3 Chewable.
Instead of sourcing their vitamin D from lanolin, Garden of Life uses lichen, a fungi/algae combination that supplies a high-quality plant form of vitamin D. Each raspberry lemon-flavored tablet contains 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 along with several other beneficial ingredients like dried organic broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, and mushrooms.
Best with Omega-3s: Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil
If you prefer to get your vitamin D from whole foods, the Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver is an excellent source. The vitamin D in the cod liver oil comes from the fish it’s sourced from, so not only is it highly bioavailable, it’s also coupled with other naturally-occurring nutrients, like vitamin A and omega-3s.
While the dose isn’t as high as the others on this list—one teaspoon provides 395 IU of vitamin D—it’s still enough to help you meet your needs, especially if you’re not currently deficient. Fair warning, though: it’s raw fish oil, so it tastes like, well, raw fish oil. If you have a weak stomach or you just can’t get down with the taste, try the capsule form instead.
Best with Calcium: Metagenics Bone Builder with Magnesium
Vitamin D and calcium work together to help keep your bones healthy and strong. But even if bone health isn’t your main reason for taking a vitamin D supplement, taking the two at the same time can help keep things balanced and make potential side effects from taking vitamin D less likely.
In addition to 600 IU of vitamin D and 624 mg of calcium, the Metagenics Bone Builder tablets also contain 300 mg of magnesium, which helps metabolize and activate vitamin D, so you can get everything you need all at once.
Best Spray: Garden of Life mykind Organics Vegan D3 Spray
It may seem weird to get your vitamins in spray form, especially if you’re used to taking capsules, but it’s not only really convenient, it’s also equally effective. In their spray supplement, Garden of Life uses the same vegan-sourced vitamin D as their chewable, but combines it with omega fatty acids from organic pumpkin seed and cranberry seed oils.
Each vanilla-flavored spray provides 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 and a 410 mg combination of omega-3, 6, 7, and 9 fatty acids designed to promote proper calcium absorption and keep your immune system healthy.
What to Look for in a Vitamin D Supplement
The supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar one. Because of that, lots of people are looking to jump on the money train by creating inferior products that don’t really live up to their claims or don’t contain what they say they do. While there are plenty of good vitamin D supplement options out there, you have to know what to look for.
Form of Vitamin D. One of the most crucial things to look for in a vitamin D supplement is the form of vitamin D. You want to choose a supplement with Vitamin D3, also called cholecalciferol, because it’s the most bioavailable, or easily absorbed.
Dosage. The next thing to consider is dosage. The current recommendation for vitamin D is 600 to 800 IU per day, depending on your age (adults over the age of 70 need more). While most supplements contain around 1000 IU per serving, others go up to 5,000 or even 10,000 IU. Unless you get clearance from your doctor or another health professional to take higher doses, you’ll want to stay around 1,000 to 2,500 IU.
Other Nutrients. Vitamin D works best when taken with other fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin K. Unless you’re also taking other vitamins, it’s best to choose a supplement that contains at least these two, instead of vitamin D on its own.
Other Ingredients. It’s also important to look at inactive ingredients, or “other ingredients,” as they’re usually listed on the product label. You want to choose a supplement that’s as pure and natural as possible, without added fillers, preservatives, colors, or sugar. It’s also a good idea to get a supplement that’s free of gluten, soy, dairy and yeast.