For years, Vitamin D has always been known as the vitamin we can get when exposed to the sun in the morning. While Vitamin D can help the body to better absorb calcium, decades of research are still not enough for researchers to really understand the nature of this vitamin and what it can do for our health.
However, despite not fully knowing the true nature of Vitamin D, it has been branded as a “wonder” vitamin these past years for its supposed power over heart attacks, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other serious illnesses. Still, reports are continuously coming out, citing that there’s no truth to these claims.
Many doctors suggest that a considerable portion of the population is severely deficient in this vitamin while some warn that we are over-supplementing ourselves.
The thing with vitamin D is that our body can’t synthesize it naturally unless we are exposed to sunlight. That is why it is highly advisable for people living in cold or sunless places to take vitamin D supplements.
Here are the top 10 best vitamin D supplements on the market today, ranked. After the rankings, we will break down how vitamin D works and how it can benefit its users.
While Nordic Naturals is famous for its fish oil products, the manufacturer of the product has also branched out into vitamin D. This should not really come as a surprise since vitamin D is rare in Scandinavia.
Nordic Naturals D3 reportedly has concentrated vitamin D mixed with the product’s trademark essential oils. It is said that each soft gel could provide 5000 IU of vitamin D3 which is dissolved in olive oil, omega-9 fatty acid, and oleic acid. These ingredients are supposed to have some practical benefits to the heart.
Nordic Naturals also scores well when it comes to purity. Results of independent laboratory testing show that every soft gel has about 1010 IU of vitamin D per one percent of the product’s label-stated amount. Nord Naturals soft gels have natural orange flavoring and are preserved with rosemary extract. This prevents the need for any artificial preservative just to keep the vitamin supplement fresh.
Furthermore, Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 is made of gelatin, something that may not really be enticing for vegans or vegetarians. The same goes for hardcore purists who are looking for supplements that contain as little extras as possible. Nevertheless, the product is still a great choice for everyone else.
- Non-GMO verified
- Tested by 3rd-party laboratories
- Has omega 3, 6 and 9
- Is a pharmaceutical grade quality fish oil supplement
- Has higher levels of omega 3,6,9 fatty acids compared to other brands
- Consists of kosher ingredients
- Not evaluated by FDA
- Overdose can be dangerous
- Some of them can have omega fatty acids
If you’re looking for a vitamin D supplement that contains not just one but two appealing qualities, look no further because Do Vitamins D3 is the perfect choice for you. This supplement reportedly delivers 2500 IU of vitamin D3, and unlike other vitamin supplements on the market today, it comes from natural plant sources.
Aside from animals, finding other sources of vitamin D3 is a real challenge. Most supplements available today usually derive their D3 from sheep’s wool since no plant could produce it naturally except for a few. This includes some fungi like mushroom and lichen which can synthesize vitamin D the same way humans do through sunlight.
The tablet is allegedly made from plant cellulose since it will be illogical to go through the trouble of searching for plant-based vitamin D3 if it would only be delivered in a gelatin capsule.
Aside from that, another appealing feature of this product is that it carries the LabDoor “Tested for Sport” certification. While it is highly unlikely for banned doping agents like a steroid to be contaminated when used in supplements like vitamin D, it is still a definite perk if you want some peace of mind.
Apparently, people involved in sports that require drug testing like road racing, triathlon, all NCAA sports, and some bodybuilding and weightlifting divisions, find this an added value to the product. This is because supporting supplements usually tested for sporting activities help spread the practice and aid in stamping out the contamination problem when it comes to supplements.
However, one primary setback for this product is that its special sourcing and testing made its purchasing cost higher than the average. Still, if you’re a person who values contaminant testing or natural plant sources in your supplement, it will be worth the price.
- Supports cardiovascular health
- Promotes teeth, bone, and muscle health
- Guaranteed quality
- Taking without doctor’s consent is risky
While Carlson Labs is a pretty small company with little influence in the market share of supplements as compared to its competitors, it doesn’t stop the said supplement manufacturer from delivering an efficient product to consumers.
The Carlson labs D3 can be considered a simplistic supplement which uses safflower and corn oil to dissolve the fat-soluble vitamin D2. Both are contained in a gelatin-based capsule and delivers about 1000 IU of the said vitamin.
The product is also exceptionally pure. According to the results of its independent lab testing, the product contains around two percent of its label-stated amount of vitamin D3. It is considered impressive given that most of the product’s competitors don’t even come close to about 40 percent of their actual target.
While it is said that olive oil is a healthier option than other plant oils like the safflower oil and corn oil, having just a tiny amount of both in each capsule is not really a problem.
Just to clarify, vitamin D3 is not water soluble, so that’s the main reason why oil is being used to help dissolve the vitamin in fats. Therefore, the only meticulous buyer would not really be happy with Carlson labs for using less healthy options than olive oil.
Another vitamin supplement brand, Nutrigold, offers two vitamin D products that only differ in dosage. The first option is a 1000 IU dose that is delivered in bovine gelatin while the other one has 2000 IU.
With an affordable, minimalist, and purist design philosophy, Nutrigold reportedly has a strong tradition of high-quality ingredients. Independent laboratory testing has shown that the product has exceeded its label-claimed amount by about ten percent, making it deliver 1100 IU instead of the 1000 IU per capsule.
Furthermore, there’s one attractive perk to the product’s exceptional commitment to purity. Unlike its competitors, the supplement is not being manufactured on equipment that has been used with allergens like milk, soy, fish, and wheat.
Because of its pure design, Nutrigold Vitamin D3 is a perfect choice for people with allergies.
- This soft gel capsule contains animal by-products (bovine gelatin) and should be avoided by those with allergies, sensitivities or who are vegan.
Considered as Amazon’s number one best-selling vitamin D3 supplement, NatureWise Vitamin D3 offers some severe blow. Not only that, this supplement delivers not just 1000 or 2000 IU but a really powerful 5000 IU of the vitamin per capsule.
The dosage is apparently higher than the recommended daily intake which is around 600 IU. However, many researchers and nutritionists are still recommending higher doses, citing that exposure to direct sunlight could produce the same blood vitamin D reaction as thousands of IUs daily.
If you are living in regions with cold or sunless climates especially during the winter, NatureWise Vitamin D3is great choice. That is if you are a firm believer in getting doses of vitamin D on a daily basis.
Aside from that, the product also appeals to the minimalist since it only has essential ingredients which include olive oil and the other components of the capsule, gelatin, and glycerin.
Vegan and vegetarians would also appreciate the product because of its ingredients.
Also, each bottle of NatureWise contains 360 capsules with each one providing 5000 IU of vitamin D3. To date, it is one of the best vitamin D supplement when it comes to value.
- 1000 IUs per tablet
- Small, easy to swallow
- Has organic olive oil for healthier teeth and bones
- Some users may require higher single pill dosage
- Stomach aches and cramps
When it comes to affordable vitamin D supplement that is of high purity score, Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3 holds one of the best reputations. The product reportedly lives up to its standard well.
Doctor’s Best is offered in two different dosages: a 2000 IU and 5000 IU. The options give the people the flexibility they need when it comes to vitamin D dosing. As you can see, vitamin D requirement is different for every individual. For instance, a large man may need more supply of vitamin D than a woman with a slim figure.
Vitamin D3 intake may also vary depending on the season. During winter, people are generally advised to take higher dosages. However, vitamin D should only be made at lower dosages during summer.
Because of its high reputation, it is no longer surprising that Doctor’s Best ingredients include virgin olive oil, gelatin, and water. However, the product has one downside, and that is no independent lab testing has done yet to assess its purity. Because of this, people must rely on the overall reliability of the product to its other offerings.
Still, there is no reason to fret yet since Doctor’s Best has one of the best track records on the market today. Despite the lack of independent lab testing, its excellent reputation could vouch for its dosing accuracy and purity.
- High-purity score
- Offered in 2000 IU and 5000 IU
- No independent lab testing
Perhaps one of the most common vitamin D supplement brands in local big-box and pharmacies today is the Now Foods.
Despite its popularity, this supplement is pretty straightforward with each soft gel delivering 1000 IU of vitamin D dissolved in olive capsule and contained in a gelatin capsule.
However, Now Foods Vitamin D3 encountered some issues when an independent lab testing showed that its content offering has some discrepancy. According to the test results, the supplement only contains about 30 percent more vitamin D than what is stated on its label. Meaning, it includes 1300 IU of vitamin D.
While this might look like good news to some people from a value perspective, it also shows the poor-quality control the manufacturer has over its product.
However, this problem is not only specific to Now Foods. In fact, the quality control issue is something that other supplement manufacturers have struggled with, too. At times, this could be worth it especially for a cheap supplement with necessary ingredients. Depending on what’s important to you, the decision lies in your hand.
- Vegan capsules
- Affordable price
- 120 capsules
- Poor-quality control
Thorne Research Vitamin D-1000 is a vegetarian cellulose-based vitamin D supplement that offers 1000 IU per day. On the surface, this product looks pretty standard as compared to its competitor.
But, don’t be deceived. This vitamin D supplement is packed with an exciting and pretty unusual ingredient: the amino acid leucine.
According to a 2015 study conducted on elderly patients, it was found that adding leucine together with protein to a vitamin D supplementation program helps prevent muscle loss on people at risk of contracting sarcopenia or the loss of muscle mass associated with aging. This gives Thorne Research an edge over its competitors on that aspect.
Currently, it is still unclear how or why this works. However, it might even be considered a good idea to go for the Thorne Research’s vitamin D if the person is elderly and wants to improve his or her muscle mass retention.
That said, the vitamin D supplement product must contain the significantly high dosage of leucine to produce the effect mentioned in the scientific study.
However, despite containing a powerful ingredient, the product is disappointing when it comes to the purity aspect. An independent lab testing found that each capsule of the Thorne Research’s vitamin D contains about 1300 IU of vitamin D which is way above what is stated on its label.
For a small company like Thorne Research, this issue with quality control hinders it from landing a higher spot in the best supplement rankings list.
- No sodium benzoate,
- 1000, 5000, 10,000 and 25,000 IUs
- Difficult to absorb
Another online vitamin D supplement top-seller, Vitafusion is a gummy-based formula which appeals greatly to people who particularly dislike ingesting solid pills or capsules.
However, the track record of this product is said to be sloppy. Apparently, this is because it’s more difficult to control the formulation of a gummy product accurately. Each Vitafusion gummy reportedly has about 1000 IU of vitamin D which is said to be 250 percent of a person’s recommended intake per day.
The gummy contains sugar as a sweetener, fruit extracts for coloring, and flavoring agents for its taste. For low-carb enthusiasts, the existence of sugar would not be appealing, especially when there are other better sugar-free options on the market today.
Furthermore, an independent lab testing conducted on the product revealed that the subpar manufacturing reputation of Vitafusion Vitamin D3 Gummies is true. According to the lab results, each gummy contains about 40 percent more vitamin D than what is indicated on its label.
While many believe that this is better than containing less than what is advertised, it only shows just how low the quality control of the manufacturer over the product.
It also doesn’t help Vitafusion that there are other vitamin D supplements on the market today that are not only high-quality but are affordable as well.
- Natural taste
- Animal-based gelatin and sugar
- Flavorings may cause allergic reactions in some users
- Rubbery texture
Just like Vitafusion, Nature Made is a widely known brand that not only offers vitamin D supplements in capsule form but also in good-quality chewable form as well. It was said that providing people with supplement form options just added to Nature Made’s popularity.
Unfortunately, the product suffers from similar problems encountered by chewable vitamin D3 supplements.
Since vitamin D is a fat soluble molecule, it requires several unnecessary ingredients to keep it in chewable form, to make it taste better, to make it look more appealing to chew rather than swallow.
Nature Made’s chewable vitamin D has sorbitol and sucralose as a sweetener. Aside from that, it also contains artificial flavoring agents, and it’s been colored with red dye #40 which is highly controversial because of its questionable safety record. However, the said dye is still considered by the United States Food and Drug Administration as safe for use in food.
While Nature Made Adult Chewable D4 claims that it offers 1000 IU of vitamin D per chewable tablet, an independent lab testing proves just how inaccurate the product’s claim is.
- Contains high amounts of vitamin D3
- Supports bone, muscle, and teeth
- Can raise vitamin D levels in the body
- The gummies may be hard chew
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin is a kind of vitamin that is fat-soluble and acts like a steroid. This vitamin has two forms when it comes to diet:
- The Vitamin D2 that can be found in mushrooms.
- The Vitamin D3 that can be sourced from oily fish and egg yolks.
Of the two types, vitamin D3 is considered more potent since it can raise the vitamin D blood levels nearly two times more than vitamin D2.
Aside from taking supplements, a lot of vitamin D can naturally be produced by our skin when we are exposed to the UV-rays from the sunlight. Then, all excess vitamin D will be stored in our body fat to be used later.
Each body cell has a Vitamin D receptor. Just like other vitamins, vitamin D is also involved many of our body processes like bone health and cancer protection.
Vitamin D Benefits
Of the many significant functions of Vitamin D, perhaps the most vital is the regulation of the body’s calcium and phosphorus absorption and the facilitation of the standard body functions. Aside from that, vitamin D is also important for normal growth and the development of teeth and bones. That and the improvement of the body’s resistance to certain diseases.
Without enough vitamin D, you might potentially be at risk of developing bone abnormalities like soft bones or osteomalacia and fragile bones which are commonly known as osteoporosis.
Here are three other amazing benefits of vitamin D:
Aside from its many useful benefits, scientific studies suggest that vitamin D also plays an important role in:
- Reducing the risk of getting multiple sclerosis according to a few studies
- Decreases a person’s chance of having heart disease
- Helps in reducing the likelihood of acquiring flu
Further research also showed that vitamin D could also play a significant role when it comes to regulating a person’s mood and warding off depression. In another study, researchers discovered that people suffering from depression who received vitamin D supplements have shown improvement in their symptoms.
In a separate study of people with fibromyalgia, the researchers discovered that vitamin D deficiency was more common in people who regularly experience anxiety and depression.
Boosts Weight Loss
If you’re trying to shed some unnecessary weight or avoid heart diseases, you may consider taking up vitamin D supplements while on a diet.
Vitamin D Food Sources
Vitamin D could also be found in a few foods.
Foods that contain vitamin D include:
- Egg yolk
Still, getting vitamin D by being exposed to the sun is not enough, so it is always advisable to take vitamin D supplements regularly.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
The right amount of vitamin D required for healthy functioning has been plagued by controversy. According to a recent study, it was indicated that a person may need more vitamin D than what was previously believed. It was said that the average blood serum levels range from around 50 to 100 micrograms per deciliter. Therefore, a person’s required vitamin D may depend on his or her blood level.
It should be noted that one IU is not the same for each type of vitamin. An IU is said to be determined by how much a substance produces an effect in a person’s body. The recommended IUs for vitamin D are:
- children: 600 IU
- adults: 600 IU
- adults over 70: 800 IU
- pregnant women: 600 IU
Is it Possible to Get the Needed Vitamin D from the Sun?
You can get vitamin D by being exposed to the sun. However, just like everything else, the sunlight amount required may vary. For instance, the elderlies and colored people have less vitamin D.
The location is also essential and vitamin D can’t be produced year-round by people in other regions that are away from the equator. Even if the sun keeps shining, it’s not powerful enough to give off vitamin D.
Here are some facts about the vitamin D production when exposed to the sun:
- In over 70 countries that are situated north of 35°N, vitamin D is not produced in winter.
- In countries like Norway, vitamin D is not produced from October to March.
- In the intense sun, exposing your arms and legs for about 5 to 30 minutes in between 10 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon is usually enough for you to reach the daily vitamin D needs of light-skinned people while colored people may need more time.
- In one study, it was revealed that extended sun exposure during summer was enough to ensure excellent vitamin D levels during winter, regardless of vitamin D intake.
Still, if you live away from the equator, you should consume supplements or foods that have vitamin D.
How Much Is Too Much?
It is said that current information on vitamin D overdose has not been updated and it has very rare toxicity. Typically, it is associated with dangerously high amounts of calcium and phosphates in the blood of a person, together with low levels of parathyroid hormone.
This usually is only seen in people who have accidentally or intentionally ingested alarmingly high doses of vitamin D during more prolonged periods of time like about 50,000–1 million IU/day for months. The upper level of harmless intake is only set at 4000 IU of vitamin D, or 100 micrograms, per day.
However, it has been reported that taking up to 10,000 IU per day was not found to cause harm to healthy individuals. That said, it means that there are only a few people who actually need more than 4000 IU a day. A study conducted on 17 thousand people has revealed that taking varying doses of vitamin D, up to 20,000 IU/day, will not show any signs of toxicity. Their blood levels were still found to be lower than the upper range of normal, which is 100 ng/ml, or 250 nmol/l.
It should also be noted that it is not possible to overdose on vitamin D from sunlight. However, always remember that although large doses are unlikely to cause harm or toxicity, they may be completely unnecessary.
Do Overweight People Tend to Have Lower Vitamin D Levels?
According to studies, higher body mass index and body fat percentage are associated with lower blood levels of vitamin D. However, several different theories speculate about the relationship between low vitamin D levels and obesity.
There have been claims that people with obesity tend to consume fewer foods that are rich in vitamin D which somehow explains the association between the two. Others point to behavioral differences, citing that obese people tend to show less skin, causing them to absorb less vitamin D from the sun.
Aside from that, specific enzymes are required to transform vitamin D into its active form. The levels of these enzymes may also differ between obese and non-obese individuals. However, a study conducted back in 2012 noted that once vitamin D levels in fat people have been adjusted for their body size, there’s no difference between levels in obese and non-obese individuals.
This only means that your vitamin D requirements may depend on body size. Meaning obese individuals will need more vitamin D than those average-weight individuals to meet the same blood levels. This could potentially help explain why fat people are more likely to be deficient.
What’s more interesting is that losing weight can also have an effect on an individual’s vitamin D levels.
According to speculations, reducing an individual’s body size would mean a decrease in that individual’s vitamin D needs. However, since the portion of it in your body remains the same when you shed unnecessary weight, your levels would actually increase. Aside from that, the degree of weight loss may also affect the extent to which its levels are growing.
According to one study, it was found that even the smallest amounts of weight loss may lead to a modest increase in blood levels of vitamin D. Furthermore, people who lost at least 15% of their body weight have experienced a rise that was almost three times greater than those seen in participants who lost 5–10% of their body weight.
Moreover, some evidence shows that increasing vitamin D in the blood can reduce body fat and boost weight loss.
Higher Vitamin D Levels Help With Weight Loss
There is evidence which suggests that getting enough vitamin D could improve weight loss and decrease body fat. Around 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L) is an adequate blood level to promote healthy bones and overall health.
In a study conducted on 218 overweight and obese women for a year, it was found that women who received the vitamin D supplement required have lost weight up to about 7 pounds more than those who only received placebo and do not have enough blood levels.
Another study also provided overweight and obese women with vitamin D supplements for about 12 weeks. The results of the study have shown that the women didn’t experience any weight loss. However, they did observe that increasing levels of vitamin D decreased each individual’s body fat.
Furthermore, it was also believed that vitamin D could also be associated with a decrease in weight gain. In a study made in over 4,600 elderly, it was discovered that the higher levels of vitamin D were linked to less weight gain between visits within the span of the 4.5-year study.
While more research studies have to be made to support the claims and reach a conclusion, it is clear that increasing vitamin D intake may help in losing weight.
How Does Vitamin D Help With Weight Loss?
There are already numerous theories that attempt to explain the effects of vitamin D on weight loss.
Some research studies reveal that vitamin D could potentially help in reducing the formation of new fat cells in an individual’s body. Aside from that, it could also aid in suppressing the storage of fat cells which could effectively reduce fat accumulation.
Furthermore, it was also said that vitamin D could increase the levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that allegedly affects everything from the mood of an individual to sleep regulation. Serotonin is also believed to play a role in controlling the appetite of a person and increase his or her satiety. Some even claim that it could reduce body weight and decrease calorie intake.
Lastly, higher levels of vitamin D are also believed to be associated with higher levels of testosterone, which could trigger weight loss.
In a 2011 study, around 165 men were given with either vitamin D supplements or a placebo for a year. The results only showed that those who received the supplements have experienced significant increases in their testosterone levels than the control group. Other studies have also shown that higher levels of testosterone can decrease body fat and help sustain long-term weight loss. The testosterone does this by increasing the metabolism which causes the body to burn more calories after eating. Aside from that, it could also prevent the formation of new fat cells in a person’s body.
What Conditions Can Vitamin D Help You Treat
For years, Vitamin D has been known that it helps with bone health.
However, new studies show that vitamin D may help with other ailments too.
Here are some of them.
- Type 2 Diabetes
In a study published a few weeks ago, it was shown that people with vitamin D deficiency could also face higher risks of having type 2 diabetes.
The researchers allegedly studied older adults with no previous diabetes or prediabetes signs. For over 12 years, many people developed diabetes or prediabetes.
It was discovered that vitamin D deficiency can become a strong predictor of whether a participant would develop the complications.
Eventually, it was found that those with vitamin D levels of above 30 nanograms per milliliter had 1/3 the risk of getting diabetes, while people with levels of more than 50 nanograms per milliliter had 1/5 the risk.
- Muscle Strength
University of Birmingham researchers reported last year that higher levels of vitamin D could potentially help optimize muscle strength. During the study, participants were measured for active and inactive vitamin D levels, together with their total physical characteristics, such as body fat and muscle bulk.
It was discovered that increased levels of active vitamin D can improve and optimize muscle strength.
During winter months, people are said to be more sad and depressed due to the lack of sunlight that gives off vitamin D. This reportedly explains the connection between vitamin D and depression.
In a study conducted in 2008, it was found that an increase in vitamin D supplements could significantly reduce symptoms of depression in overweight and obese people.
Furthermore, a more recent study concluded that people with low concentrations of vitamin D were more likely to be depressed.
- Cardiovascular Health
A study made by researchers this year used high-end nanosensors to reportedly find the effects of vitamin D on heart health. The nanosensors enabled the researchers to check endothelial cells and helped regulate blood circulation.
Some diseases that affect the cardiovascular system like diabetes and hypertension could cause severe damage to the endothelial cells. In turn, this damage cells could lead to higher risk of heart attack. However, the researchers found that vitamin D3 could potentially help restore the health and strength of endothelial cells.
While the authors said that more research is needed to confirm their findings, they emphasized that vitamin D3 is affordable, accessible, and can do a job better than any other medication.
While more research studies are needed to understand the health benefits of vitamin D to us entirely, there is no doubt that it is still one of the most significant vitamins that our body needs. Indeed, our body could produce it naturally. With the help of sunlight, we could synthesize vitamin D and use it to accomplish existing task while the excess vitamins could be stored for future use.
Since our body could only synthesize vitamin D through sunlight, taking in the supplement is a must for people who live far from the equator and near the northern regions of the Earth where it is cold. If you are living in one of the places within the said region, you must take vitamin D. However, if you are having doubts about what to eat, we will help you in doing that. If you are searching for the right vitamin D3, we highly recommend Nordic Naturals D3.
The product is not only Non-GMO verified, it is also tried and tested by third-party laboratories. Aside from that, it has omega 3, 6, and 9 which are all considered good for the heart. Nordic Naturals D3 also has natural flavoring and is preserved using rosemary extract. However, keep in mind that there other high-quality options out there. The choice is still in your hands.