- 1 Vitamin D3 Benefits
- 2 What Is the Difference Between Vitamin D and Vitamin D3?
- 3 Vitamin D3 Deficiency
- 4 Best Sources of Vitamin D
- 5 What Is The Best Form of Vitamin D?
- 6 How To Choose The Best Vitamin D Supplements
- 7 Reviews of The Best Vitamin D Supplements in 2020
- 7.1 1. Thorne Research Vitamin D3 Liquid – Best to Buy
- 7.2 Versatile Dosage For All
- 7.3 Ultimate Affordability
- 7.4 Metered Bottle Dispenser
- 7.5 Top Verifications and Assurances
- 7.6 2. Ora Organic Vegan Vitamin D3 – Best For Vegans
- 7.7 3. Mary Ruth’s Vitamin D3 Gummies – Best For Kids
- 7.8 4. Baby Ddrops 400IU – Best for Infants
- 7.9 5. SRB Nutrition D3 + K2 with MCT Oil – Best For Men
- 7.10 6. New Chapter Calcium D3 + K2 with Magnesium – Best For Women
- 7.11 7. Vitafusion Vitamin D3 Gummy – Best Tasting Chewable Gummies
- 8 Best Vitamin D Supplements Comparison Chart
- 9 Vitamin D3 FAQ
Vitamin D is one of the most popular supplements. According to statistical research, multivitamins are the most commonly used supplement, followed by omega-3 or fish oil, calcium and then vitamin D. The main reason for wanting a supplement is that people feel they have a nutritional gap. So, should you be taking a vitamin D supplement, and if so, what is the best vitamin D supplement in 2020?
Vitamin D3 Benefits
Vitamin D regulates many functions in the body and has numerous benefits either directly or through cofactor relationships with other nutrients and minerals. Here are the main established benefits and functions of vitamin D:
- Regulates absorption of calcium and maintains levels of phosphorus for good bone health. Vitamin D exposure during infancy is especially important for skeletal development later in life.
- Reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes and improves blood sugar levels in those with prediabetes.
- Not all studies agree that vitamin D supplementation results in weight loss, but there is an association between lower blood levels of vitamin D and obesity.
- Boosts immunity, protects again autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, and decreases the risk of infection, allergies and asthma.
- Correct vitamin D levels protect women from preeclampsia during pregnancy and reduce the risk of babies born small for gestational age (SGA).
- Prevents against and improves depression and mood swings.
- Supports colon health and protects against colon cancer.
What Is the Difference Between Vitamin D and Vitamin D3?
There are 2 types of vitamin D: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3.
- Vitamin D2, or Ergocalciferol, is produced commercially by exposing ergosterol from yeast to ultraviolet light. It is often used in fortified foods and vegan supplements.
- Vitamin D3, or Cholecalciferol, is produced by our skin if exposed to the ultraviolet sunlight and is produced commercially by exposing lanolin from sheep’s wool to ultraviolet rays. Alternatively, it is now also produced from lichen.
Both are fat soluble and must travel to the liver and kidneys to be converted into active vitamin D, known technically as 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, or calcitriol.
Vitamin D3 Deficiency
Research dating back to 2011 and 2012 indicates that 32% of the adult North American population is suffering from vitamin D3 deficiency with a serum level below 20ug/mL. This number is significantly higher in African American population groups followed by Mexicans and Hispanics.
Further studies show that over 80% of children and 95% of adults in the US obtain too little vitamin D daily. Understandably, vitamin D is the fourth most sought after supplement.
Vitamin D levels are determined by measuring the circulating level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood. A level greater than 30 mg/mL is required to maintain good health, and about 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency.
What Causes Vitamin D3 Deficiency?
Briefly, the causes of vitamin D3 deficiency can be attributed to these factors: environmental, physiological, dietary and medical.
- Lack of exposure to sunlight: too much indoor activity, shading or parasol use. Extensive clothing cover outdoors or sunscreens. Excessive cloud cover and pollution. Exposure through glass, low ambient UV levels at high altitudes, missing out on peak UV exposure time from 11am to 4pm.
- Dark-colored skin: biologically, the melanin pigment hinders vitamin D3 production.
- Kidney ailments: the kidneys convert vitamin D2 and D3 into substances the body can use. Kidney ailments can cause a vitamin D deficiency.
- Other health conditions: malabsorption problems, inflammatory conditions, obesity, autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, celiac disease, short bowel syndrome, gastric bypass, and cystic fibrosis.
- Diet and food restrictions: not eating foods rich in vitamin D, lactose intolerance, and avoidance of dairy products.
Apart from the above, groups specifically at risk are pregnant and lactating women, children, the eldery and the institutionalized. Previously it was thought that up to 90% of vitamin D is absorbed through the skin, however, more recent studies show that this figure is much less.
Best Sources of Vitamin D
We all need to get sufficient vitamin D and in the healthiest ways possible. If you have a vitamin D deficiency, this is what you can do:
Solution 1: Get out in the sunshine!
That said, 20 minutes of sunshine per day, during peak hours of 11am‒4pm, with over 40% of skin exposed can prevent vitamin D deficiency for most people. While research has consistently shown that low SPF (~16) UV sunscreens do not adversely affect vitamin D synthesis, not a lot of data is available for high-SPF creams. There are sunscreens on the market either fortified with vitamin D, or designed to allow for greater vitamin D production.
Solution 2: Eat Vitamin D3 and D2 foods.
Unfortunately, rich vitamin D3 foods are limited to: fatty fish such as tuna, wild salmon, mackerel, swordfish and sardines. UV exposed mushrooms produce rich amounts of vitamin D2. Smaller amounts of vitamin D2 and D3 are found in meats–especially beef and liver–shrimp, egg yolk and cheese.
This means vegans and vegetarians are particularly at risk. There are, however, many fortified foods that have added vitamin D such as cereals, milk, yogurt and orange juice (brand depending). Vitamin D foods alone may not be able to provide your daily needs. If you don’t get sufficient sunshine, you may need to take supplements.
Solution 3: Get vitamin D from supplements.
Vitamin D deficiency is a highly prevalent global problem. Modern lifestyles and changing climatic conditions are also not helping. If you feel you may be at risk and need a good vitamin D supplement, first do the following:
- Get tested: There are various ways to go about this: consult your healthcare provider, do a home test or process one online via a certified laboratory. Don’t rely on commonly listed symptoms of deficiency as these could be related to other conditions.
- Consult a healthcare provider: Health supplementation is a complex issue. It’s not just a question of whether your intake is sufficient, but whether or nor your body is utilizing vitamin D properly. There are various cofactors such as vitamin A and K that work together with vitamin D. Other health conditions, known or unknown, could also be factors in vitamin deficiency.
What Is The Best Form of Vitamin D?
A meta-analysis of recent studies increasingly show that supplemented Vitamin D3 is significantly more effective than D2 at raising actual calcitriol (active Vitamin D) levels in the body. Therefore, the more effective and economical choice would be to choose vitamin D3 as the best supplement.
How To Choose The Best Vitamin D Supplements
You need to know your best dosage in International Units (IU), Mcg, or Daily Value (DV) percentage. This varies a lot between products on the market. Secondly, choose the delivery method (capsule, tablet etc.) you prefer and lastly, check any third party verifications. Not all products will have top certifications for actual ingredients like USP, but user reviews, especially concerning blood work, will help you decide which products are best for you.
1. Select Which Vitamin D3 Dosage Is The Best
Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine recommend a dietary allowance (RDA) of 600 IU or 75% DV, on a supplement or food label, for ages 1 to 70. An intake of 800 IU (100% DV) is recommended for people older than 70 years in order to optimize bone health.
The safe upper limit is now 4000 IU (500% DV), and it is not recommended to exceed this level without your doctor’s recommendation. 1000 IU (125% DV) up to 2000 IU (250% DV) per day are common dosages, especially if you don’t get peak exposure to UV sunlight. For those who are deficient, recommended daily intake is often much higher than the RDA. Severe deficiency may require up to 6000 IU daily or 50,000 IU once weekly.
|0–12 months*||400 IU|
|1–13 years||600 IU|
|4–18 years||600 IU|
|19–50 years||600 IU|
|51–70 years||600 IU|
|>70 years||800 IU|
|* Adequate Intake (AI)|
2. Choose The Best Way To Take Vitamin D
- Softgels – A soft gelatin shell filled with oil. Many people find these easier to swallow. They are not suitable for vegetarians, vegans and are often not Kosher or Halaal. Sensitive to light and temperature, the shelf life is shorter than hard tablets or capsules. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, these are a good option.
- Tablets – The typical hard tablet is cheaper to produce and has a longer shelf life. With tablets you have to be careful about additional binders and fillers such as maltodextrin and carrageenan.
- Capsules – These are similar to softgels in their shape and ease to swallow, and similar to tablets with additional ingredients as in binders, fillers and preservatives. Many capsules utilize animal gelatin (pork more than bovine), but there are others that use plant cellulose and are suitable for vegans.
- Gummies – These are a great alternative to swallowing pills and are especially good for children (above 3yrs) or people who have to take (swallow) various other medications or supplements. They may or may not be suitable for vegans, so you will need to check additional ingredients carefully.
- Liquid drops – Like softgels, these are oil-based. They have minimal ingredients, no gelatins and can easily be taken under the tongue, dropped onto food or blended into something. They are also best for small children and infants.
Regardless of what form you choose, it is important to know that vitamin D2 is always vegan-friendly, whereas vitamin D3 can be made from either an animal source (sheep’s wool) or plant source (lichen). It is best to check the label or confirm sourcing with the manufacturer.
3. Check Third-party Verification
Unlike medicines, most supplements aren’t required by law to have third party verification in the US.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.”
Manufacturers are required to provide nutritional information. It is not an FDA obligation to guarantee whether the information provided is true or not. For this, there are various third-party organizations who run tests at the request of manufacturers, or independently by consumer safety action groups.
- ANSI: American National Standards Institute
- CL: ConsumerLab.com
- DSVP / USP: Dietary Supplement Verification Program
- GMP: Good Manufacturing Practices (not about ingredients)
- NPA: Natural Products Association
- NSF: National Sanitary Foundation
- USP: United States Pharmacopeia
Reviews of The Best Vitamin D Supplements in 2020
Here are our top picks of quality, certified Vitamin D supplements. Our selection for Men and Women have additional nutrients other than Vitamin D.
- Thorne Research Vitamin D Liquid – Best to Buy in 2020
- Ora Organics Vegan Vitamin D3 – Best for Vegans
- Mary Ruth’s Vitamin D3 Gummies – Best for Kids
- Baby Ddrops Liquid D3 – Best for Infants
- SRB Nutrition D3 + K2 with MCT Oil – Best for Men
- New Chapter Calcium D3 + K2 with Magnesium – Best for Women
- Vitafusion Vitamin D3 Gummy – Best Tasting Chewable
Here are our picks of the Best Vitamin D Supplements in 2020
1. Thorne Research Vitamin D3 Liquid – Best to Buy
If you want all the Vitamin D3 needs of your family or household taken care of safely, with no fuss and with just one product, then Thorne Research is a very good choice and also our top pick. It is extremely affordable with a very flexible dosage range, and contains no extra ingredients other than oils that are GMO, soy, and fish oil free. It’s suitable for most vegetarians, and the ingredients are 100% certified.
Versatile Dosage For All
Out of all the ways to take Vitamin D, liquid oil drops are by far the most versatile and also the most affordable. One drop is 500 IU which means that this product is also suitable for young children. The drops have a slight taste, but can easily be taken under the tongue or mixed in with some food.
This baseline measurement allows different people to take as few, or as many drops as needed. Women and older family members can take more, while those who live in sunny areas and get outdoors a lot, can take less.
One serving equals two drops or 1000 IU and the container has 600 servings. For the same price, a popular leading brand using soy oil and gelatin softgels of 1000 IU, only gives you 300 servings! Most people with a Vitamin D3 deficiency, or little or no exposure to sun, will need to take at least 1200 IU per day. Even so, there are enough servings here to last a medium-sized family a number of months.
Metered Bottle Dispenser
This bottle doesn’t have a squeeze dropper. Simply hold the bottle upside down, wait a few seconds, and a perfectly measured drop of 500 IU will come out. Thorne suggests using a teaspoon to collect larger doses and not to store in a refrigerator, otherwise the liquid thickens and drops flow much slower out the bottle.
Top Verifications and Assurances
Thorne Research guarantees that all their products are free from harmful additives including metal contamination, stearates, BPA, artificial preservatives, nut-based ingredients, gluten, banned sporting substances, and more. They also boast being the only supplement manufacturer that collaborates with the famed Mayo Clinic, and this product is also verified by a top independent lab. While suitable for most vegetarians, the vitamin D3 is from lanolin, so if you’re strictly Vegan, then take a look at our next product recommendation.
2. Ora Organic Vegan Vitamin D3 – Best For Vegans
Vegans are more challenged than other groups in getting sufficient vitamin D, therefore, a good quality supplement is often recommended. Ora Organic Vegan D3 comes from from sustainably sourced lichen, and is third party tested and verified for potency.
For vegans and vegetarians, the best option for plant sourced vitamin D is either vitamin D2 that comes from exposing ergosterol to yeast, or harvesting vitamin D3 from lichen—a composite organism made up of different types of algae and fungi. At the end of the day, lichen vitamin D3 is the better choice because it’s more readily absorbed by the body.
This product is also enriched with sunflower lecithin which is a phospholipid or type of fat that can enhance Vitamin D absorption. Other ingredients are organically sourced tapioca starch, which is a prebiotic, and also tapioca maltodextrin as a binder and preservative.
The dosage is 2000 IU or 250% DV which is a generally recommended dosage for vegans who may often suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Ora Sol Food is also certified Kosher and Vegan by USDA Organic. We reached out to them via email and they also gave confirmation that all their products’ ingredients are third party tested for quality and potency.
Because chewables are a great alternative, we would like to recommend this all-friendly alternative: Garden of Life Vegan D3, also from lichen with an organic mushroom blend at 2000 IU per gummy.
3. Mary Ruth’s Vitamin D3 Gummies – Best For Kids
According to recommendations, ages 1 to 13 require 600 IU of vitamin D3. Up to 1000 IU is often recommended with deficiency, or seasonal lack of exposure to sunlight. These Mary Ruth’s gummies each contain 1000 IU, are certified vegan, and free of all common allergens.
When it came to choosing a product for kids, we wanted it to include all kids because nobody’s child should be left out of the vitamin D party. This product is good for vegan kids, vegetarian kids, Kosher kids, Halaal kids and kids with allergies. It does contain citrus pectin as a binder, though rare, this could be an allergy issue for some.
Mary Ruth’s gummies are GMO, yeast, soy, gluten, gelatin, egg, dairy, gluten, wheat and artificial everything free; leaving you free of all worries and concerns. We contacted their customer service and they promptly informed us that their product is tested and certified by Eurofin Inc. and Labs-Mart Inc. A standard container has 60 servings and one gummy gives 1000 IU.
It’s really difficult to get a perfect fit for all, so if allergies are a not concern for you, then we highly recommend Feel Great 365 Vitamin D3 for Kids. It’s more affordable, certified vegetarian (not vegan), third-party tested, gelatin-free, gluten-free and non-GMO. The serving size is also 1000 IU per gummy.
4. Baby Ddrops 400IU – Best for Infants
These metered droplets deliver the safest dosage of VItamin D 3 for your child. The only other ingredient in Baby Ddrops is fractionated coconut oil which is a great source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), for supporting metabolism, brain function and reduces insulin resistance.
This product is also free of all common allergens as well as artificial flavorants or coloring. In addition, it’s third party verified for its Vitamin D3 potency and it specially formulated for breastfeeding. The oil drop can be added to standard formula or used while breastfeeding by applying the drop directly to the nipple prior to nursing.
Under certain conditions, vitamin D supplementation is advised for infants and children younger than two years. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants, especially exclusively breastfed infants receive 400 IU of vitamin D3 daily, whereas children need 600 IU. For infants up to 12 months using this product, 400 IU (10mcg) is 100% DV and for children 1 to 18 years, 400 IU is 67% DV.
Consult your childcare provider or registered pediatrician and follow directives and dosages precisely.
5. SRB Nutrition D3 + K2 with MCT Oil – Best For Men
Despite differences in source, dosage and how it is delivered, at the end of the day, vitamin D3 is vitamin D3. But, SBR Nutrition has a product with added support for men including potentially better energy levels, cardiovascular health, and testosterone production.
Vitamin K is an important cofactor to vitamin D and they work together in numerous ways.
Significant research has highlighted the key importance of vitamin K. It helps to promote better and more efficient absorption of calcium and plays an important part in cardiovascular health, especially in preventing artery calcification, promoting clotting, and skeletal health. For men, it also enhances testosterone production.
One of the best sources of K2 is Japanese natto (fermented soybeans) as well as leafy greens, mustard greens, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and cabbage. The typical American diet is deficient in K2, and especially men who eat fewer greens than women. These are some of the reasons why we recommend this vitamin D3 complex for men.
MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) oils have been found to enhance ketosis, boost energy production, mental clarity as well as promoting weight loss and better cholesterol. The leading cause of death globally in men (and women) is heart disease.
SRB Nutrition uses MK-7 which is the vitamin K with the highest bioavailability. It delivers 1400 IU Vitamin D3 (350% DV) and there are 1000 drops per bottle. The vitamin D3 is sourced from lanolin, so is not vegan-friendly. We were impressed with how many positive comments there were from users who did blood work.
6. New Chapter Calcium D3 + K2 with Magnesium – Best For Women
Although marketed as a product for bone strength, this blend of key cofactor D3 and K2 with magnesium has a number of key potential benefits for women including better calcium absorption as well as better reproductive health and fertility.
Vitamin D3 and K2 are equally important to men and women. Apart from the benefits for both mentioned in the review above, vitamin K2 is important for women in helping with PCOS syndrome, which is the most common hormonal disorder in young women affecting fertility. For women with PCOS, K2 helps to reduce levels of free testosterone.
Also, compared to men, women and girls require a higher calcium intake. Higher calcium is particularly important during pregnancy, and especially so during and after menopause. As oestrogen levels drop, so does bone density and women in general are at a greater risk of osteoporosis than men.
Additionally for women, magnesium can significantly reduce symptoms of PMS. There are of course many other benefits to magnesium, but the combination of D3, K2 and magnesium is particularly beneficial for women, as well as the elderly.
New Chapter carefully selects and tests all their organically derived ingredients and utilizes a fermented natto and wheat blend which is certified gluten-free. Vitamin D3 is the highest value nutrient at 1000 IU or 250% DV.
7. Vitafusion Vitamin D3 Gummy – Best Tasting Chewable Gummies
A lot of people who hate swallowing supplements, often don’t realize that there are chewable gummies available for adults and not only children. Easy to take with delicious natural flavors, why not give these these Vitafusion gummies a try?
Vitafusion is one of the most popular and affordable vitamin D3 gummy choices, only costing 12 cents per serving. It contains natural extracts, oils and flavors with an additional 3g (15 calories) of sugar. This is not too much, especially considering that alternatives such as stevia do not suit all tastes.
While the container has 150 gummy bears, the nutritional information per serving is based on two gummies totally 50 mcg or 2000 IU Vitamin D3 and 3g of sugar. While 2000 IU is a good recommendation for adults, it’s nice to have the choice and convenience to easily just take 1000 IU with 1.5g sugar. One container at full dosage should last a single adult over two months.
Vitafusion were winners of the 2018 Chefs Best Award, their bottles are certified as recyclable, and they participate in community development programs. They also have a top board of product development experts and their product is 3rd party verified.
Best Vitamin D Supplements Comparison Chart
|Product||Vitamin D3 Serving||Oil Base||Type||Verified|
|Thorne Research||1000 IU|
|Triglyceride tocopherols||Liquid drops||Consumer Lab|
|Ora Organic D3||2000 IU|
|No oil||Round tablet||Vegan
|Mary Ruth’s||1000 IU|
|Baby Ddrops||400 IU|
|SRB Nutrition||1400 IU|
|Olive MCT |
|New Chapter||1000 IU|
|No oil||Slim tablets||Non GMO
|FDA GMP, Consumer Lab|
Vitamin D3 FAQ
Here are common questions and concerns that come up with regards to vitamin D3 supplementation.
1. Should I take a multivitamin or a vitamin D supplement?
That depends on a number of factors. If your Vitamin D levels are significantly low, then it is much better to take a Vitamin D supplement. Multivitamins generally do not have Vitamin D at more than 100%, and typically less than this amount. There are also other fat soluble vitamins in a multivitamin which might also affect the absorption rate of the Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is often taken as a seasonal supplement in latitudes with less available UV exposure during long winter months, or by people who do not get out much for whatever reason. If this is your case, and if you follow a healthy and well balanced diet, it might be a good idea if you just took a Vitamin D supplement.
Go here to see our reviews for The Best Multivitamins in 2020.
2. What are the signs of vitamin D deficiency?
- Frequent infections and impaired wound healing: vitamin D is involved in the communication between infection-fighting cells and the brain as well as wound healing.
- Fatigue: vitamin D deficiency is a noted cause of fatigue or excessive tiredness.
- Bone and back pain: vitamin D improves calcium absorption, so lack of vitamin D potentially causes bone-related ailments.
3. What are the signs of vitamin D3 overdose?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it is possible to ingest too much vitamin D. Toxicity is usually a result of supplement overdose due to high intake over a long period of time. The main consequence of a vitamin D3 overdose is hypercalcemia, or a build-up of calcium in the blood.
- Early symptoms include excessive thirst, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and weakness. If left untreated, the condition might lead to complications such as high blood pressure, calcification in the kidney tubes, kidney stones, kidney failure or hearing loss.
Similar to all overdose cases, it is advised to stop taking the supplement and have a health check as soon as the first symptoms appear.
4. When is the best time of day to take vitamin D3?
According to expert opinion, consumption of certain vitamins and minerals should be regulated for the best effects. They should be either taken at the same time of each day or separately from each other.
As for Vitamin D3 and other fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), they should be taken along with meals that have fats. Dietary fats can increase fat-soluble vitamin absorption by as much as 50%!