2018's 10 Best
Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D is important for good physical and mental health. As such, you may already be familiar with it. Nearly all of the milk sold in the United States is fortified with it. Breakfast cereal, orange juice, and yogurt are also enriched with vitamin D.
So what is vitamin D, and why do we need to take it? We’ll go through everything you need to know about the benefits of vitamin D, the causes of vitamin D deficiency and what you can do to get more vitamin D for so you can take the right steps to improving your health.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a group of prohormones that are necessary for human survival. There are two major precursors of vitamin D. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) are both processed by the liver and later activated by the kidneys but come from two different sources. Jump to our list of amazing Vitamin D Supplements
Our main source of vitamin D3 comes to humans naturally. When your skin is exposed to ultraviolet B rays (UVB) from the sun, a natural chemical in the skin is converted into vitamin D3. With a little added heat, vitamin D3 is then converted within the body to vitamin D.Vitamin D2 however is a sterol that only enters our bodies naturally through our diet such as when we eat things like salmon, sardines and mackerel.
Both vitamin D2 and D3 are also available as supplements. They can be taken when sun-exposure and diet are insufficient in supplying Vitamin D to the body. They have a variety of health benefits and a simple but effective way to combat illness and disease.
What are the benefits of taking vitamin D?
Having an optimum level of vitamin D in your body is essential to keeping your bones healthy and strong. This is because calcium, which the main component of bone, can only be absorbed when Vitamin D is present. When vitamin D is deficient, only 10 to 15% of dietary calcium is absorbed. Thus vitamin D helps with calcium absorption and is essential to maintaining bone health.
Other benefits from vitamin D include improved immune health and cognition. Vitamin D reduces the risk of bone disorders like osteoporosis, rickets, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and also depression. Men with vitamin D deficiency may even see an increase in their testosterone levels after supplementing for this vitamin.
Vitamin D Helps Manage Osteoporosis
Approximately 33% of women between ages 60-70, and 66% of those over 80 years old, have osteoporosis. Vitamin D is linked to suppressed calcium absorption in the intestines, which results in low bone mineral content and density. This can lead to brittleness in bones, and increases the risk of fractures. Osteoporosis and its associated complications have a huge impact on the quality of life and mortality of the elderly. It can require long-term nursing home care and leave its sufferers with permanent disabilities.
Vitamin D can greatly benefit those with osteoporosis and prevent further illness. It has been effective in preventing bone fracture. Those who took 700-800 IU (international units) a day of vitamin D found a 26% reduction in risk of sustaining a hip fracture and a 23% reduction in risk of sustaining a non-vertebral fracture. Jump to our list of amazing Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D Can Reduce Chance of Rickets
Rickets has re-emerged in society, especially in areas with low sunlight exposure. Common in the nineteenth century in malnourished, industrial communities, rickets is a condition that leads to soft bone mass in children and is typified by bowed legs and stunted growth. Rickets can be prevented by breastfeeding mothers keeping up optimal vitamin D levels. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a supplement of 400 IU per day of vitamin D is recommended for all breastfed infants.
Vitamin D Might Reduce Risk of Cancer
Vitamin D is an important hormone that regulates cell differentiation into normally functioning cells. Research has found that a vitamin D deficiency contributes to premature deaths from colon, breast, ovarian and prostate cancer, as vitamin D prevents metastasis and invasiveness. A 4-year study on postmenopausal women showed results that 1100 IU/day vitamin D plus 1400-1500 mg/day calcium can substantially reduces the risk of cancer.
Vitamin D Can Help Rheumatoid Arthritis
Vitamin D helps to decrease the likelihood of inflamed joints, the main symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, where the body’s own immune system attacks its joints and sometimes organs. Research show that when confronted by an inappropriate immune response, vitamin D may act as an immunosuppressant, and decrease T-cell responsiveness through the inhibition of cellular proliferation and reduction in lymphokine production.
A study of 83,779 women with no diabetes history showed that over 2-4 years, by taking a supplement of calcium and greater than 800 IU vitamin D resulted in 33% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who had calcium and less than 400 IU of vitamin D. Thus a supplement of vitamin D can help to reduce susceptibility to developing diabetes. Furthermore, a study of 10,366 children in Finland who had 2000 IU of vitamin D per day during their first year of life reduced the risk of type 1 diabetes onset by 80%.
In the United States, about 14.8 million people are affected with depression. Worldwide, depression affects 121 million people and is the leading cause of disability. Depression patients commonly discontinue antidepressant medications to avoid unwanted side effects and addiction. Increasing Vitamin D levels can be a factor that those with depression can consider in treating depression. A randomized trial that analyzed the effect of vitamin D on wellbeing found that a group that received 600 IU per day and a group that received 4000 IU per day for three months both reported greater well being.
You may notice in yourself mood changes due with seasons. It is common for the prevalence of anxiety and depression to increase due to a clinical syndrome called seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as winter depression. As vitamin D3 levels decrease during the winter time, having supplements can significantly enhance positive mood.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms to look for
It is estimated that over 1 billion people have vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is defined as a level less than 20 ng/mL and vitamin D insufficiency is a level less than 30 ng/mL. Groups at risk of vitamin D deficiency include elderly, adolescents, those who struggle with obesity or have chronic illnesses.
For children, symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include bone pain, delayed tooth eruption, indicating an appearance of rickets. For adults, symptoms for vitamin D deficiency include muscle weakness, bone pain, difficulty walking, frequent falls. Adults that may have syndromes like inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and chronic diarrhea may also experience vitamin D deficiency.
Individuals with darker skin have also been noted to have decreased vitamin D levels. Darker skin typically has higher melanin levels, so reduced vitamin D synthesis compared to individuals with lighter skin. A person with dark skin requires approximately 10-50 times the exposure to sunlight to produce the same amount of vitamin D as does a person with a fair skin type.
What causes vitamin D deficiency?
As mentioned before, sun exposure is essential to maintaining vitamin D levels in the body. Those who have little sun exposure because they are homebound, live in certain latitudes (latitudes >34° north or south have been shown to have lower sunlight levels) or wear covered clothing are at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. Although this contributes to decreased production of vitamin D in the skin, because the risk of skin cancer is associated with unprotected sun exposure, it is usually not recommended for treatment of vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency is also correlated with medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, or surgical removal of part of the stomach or intestines as these contribute to fat malabsorption. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and require dietary fat in the gut to be absorbed.
Diet and Obesity
Vitamin d deficiency is very common. A diet lacking in vitamin D-fortified foods such as milk and cereals are related to vitamin D deficiency. A large intake of soda, juice and iced tea, however, is correlated with vitamin D deficiency. Obesity can also cause vitamin D deficiency as the excess of adipose tissue prevents and decreases the release of vitamin D into circulation within the body.
Season, Latitude, Time of Day
UVB is involved in the genesis of previtamin D3 in the skin. The thicker the ozone layer, the fewer UVB photos reach the Earth’s surface, and thus results in skin receiving less sunlight. The amount of UVB rays that can reach the Earth’s surface depends on season, latitude and time of day. Those who live in cities such as Boston, Edmonton; Canada, Bergen; Norway will have lower levels of vitamin D in the skin for 4, 5, 6 months (respectively) due to fewer UVB rays that reach these areas.
Sunscreen is effective in absorbing UVB radiation. Whilst sunscreen is a important protectant against skin cancer, this affects the production of previtamin D3 in the skin and subsequent vitamin D circulating the body. It is shown that sunscreen with protection factor 8 can reduce the production of previtamin D3 by 95%, and higher as the protection factor increases. Jump to our list of amazing Vitamin D Supplements
What foods contain vitamin D?
There are few naturally-containing vitamin D foods. Your best natural food source for vitamin D would be salmon, sardines, mackerel, shiitake mushrooms and egg yolks. With the latter however, the cholesterol in egg yolks makes it a less-than optimal source for vitamin D.
On the other hand, you should be able to find fortified foods very easily. Besides from fortified dairy products like milk and yogurt, you can buy orange juice, infant formula, breakfast cereals, and pastas all fortified with vitamin D. In the United States, all nonfat dry and evaporated milk is fortified with vitamin D. Many fluid milks have a level of 400 IU/quart of vitamin D, although it is not mandated like dry and evaporated milk products. Furthermore, infant formula must be fortified with 40-100 IU/100 kcal.
Since food products tend to change product formulations frequently, it is recommended for buyers to read nutrition facts labels on a regular basis in case vitamin D fortification is altered.
How much vitamin D should I take?
The recommended daily dosage of vitamin D is 400 IU for children up to 12 months old, 600 IU for ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for those over 70 years old. However, as there are many cases of vitamin D deficiency due to low sunlight exposure, children and adults may require more than this. Depending on season, latitude, time of day, skin color and diet, people will need different levels of vitamin D, thus it difficult to recommend a specific level of vitamin D.
Is it safe to take vitamin D?
It is difficult to overdose on vitamin D. Doses of more than 50,000 IU vitamin D can increase the risk of hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood) and hyperphosphatemia (high serum phosphate levels). Doses of 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day for up to 5 months is deemed safe.
However, there is some risk in vitamin D toxicity from overdose, resulting in anorexia, weight loss, polyuria and heart arrhythmias. Those who suffer from chronic granulomatous disorders should also be cautious with their vitamin D dosage. Macrophage production of vitamin D2 can cause hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia. This can lead to complications such as vascular and tissue calcification, and thus damage to heart, blood vessels and kidneys. Jump to our list of amazing Vitamin D Supplements
The use of calcium (1,000 mg/day) and 400 IU vitamin D in postmenopausal women is also linked with a 17% increase in the risk of kidney stones.
Research shows there is a toxicity threshold for vitamin D of 10,000 to 40,000 IU/day and serum 25(OH)D levels of 500–600 nmol/L (200–240 ng/mL). With supplementation, it is suggested to speak with a health professional before beginning supplementation.
Vitamin D supplements also have the potential to interact with medications. Steroids such as corticosteroids like prednisone can reduce calcium absorption and affect vitamin D metabolism. This can lead to bone loss and osteoporosis in long term use.
Weight loss orlistat drugs such as Xenical® and alliTM, as well as cholesterol lowering drug cholestyramine such as Questran®, LoCholest®, and Prevalite® can reduce the absorption of vitamin D. Phenobarbital and phenytoin (Dilantin®) increase hepatic metabolism of vitamin D into inactive compounds and reduces calcium absorption.
Individuals taking these medications should discuss vitamin D supplementation with a health professional.
What is the best vitamin D supplement to take?
Our top 10 list of Vitamin D supplements is organized to reflect what you most value in your supplements. First and foremost is quality. All ten of our top ten supplements meet high standards of quality and come from brands with a proven record in excellence and purity. Another important factor in deciding the top ten was cost. You don’t have to pay through the nose to get a high quality supplement. In addition, all the companies represented on our top ten list have stellar records with customer service and prompt shipping to ensure that your supplement experience is enjoyable from the first click to your final pill.
- Bikle, D. D. Vitamin D and Bone. Current Osteoporosis Reports, 10(2), 151–159. (2012)
- Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.
- Penckofer, S., Kouba, J., Byrn, M., & Ferrans, C. E. Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 31(6), 385–393.
- Pilz S, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. (2011)
- Prosser DE, Jones G. Enzymes involved in the activation and inactivation of vitamin D. Trends Biochem Sci. (2004)
- National Institutes of Health. Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Accessed Sept. 29, 2017
- Wagner, C., & Greer, F.R. Prevention of Rickets and Vitamin D Deficiency in Infants, Children, and AdolescentsPediatrics, 122 (5) 1142-1152;
- Zhang, R., & Naughton, D. P. Vitamin D in health and disease: Current perspectives. Nutrition Journal, 9, 65. (2010)
The Standout: Each Capsule Contains 10,000IU of Vitamin D3
Nutricost’s Vitamin D3 is a great natural way to boost vitamin D and improve your health! Vitamin D3 is an essential vitamin in everyday functions. Humans naturally absorb vitamin D from the sun, but it is very common to be vitamin D deficient because of skin tone, age, and habits!
- 240 Softgels Per bottle
- High Quality Vitamin D3
- Non-GMO and Gluten Free
- 90 Day Guarantee
- Protect Against Osteoporosis!
D3 is essential in fighting things like, depression, osteoporosis, while helping improve muscle response to training. Supplementing with vitamin D can improve your body’s response to physical stress!
Nutricost guarantees 10,000IU of vitamin D3 per capsule, which is 2,500% of your daily value.Keep Reading »
The Standout: In Olive Oil
NatureWise Vitamin D3 is a gluten free, organic form of vitamin D3. It is encapsulated within olive oil to ensure that it is completely bioavailable.
- 5,000IU of Vitamin D per Capsule
- 360 Softgels per Bottle
- Great source of vitamin D without sun exposure
- Gluten free and Non-GMO
- Doctor formulated
Vitamin D3 is essential for muscle, brain, cell, and blood function. It impacts the way your body handles stress and where physical resources are allocated. Investing in an organic source of vitamin D3 can help your body improve its health, especially when a busy schedule makes it hard to do that on your own.
Get your daily dose of vitamin D with just one easy to swallow softgel!Keep Reading »
The Standout: Formulated With Coconut Oil
Sports Research High Potency Vitamin D3 contains 5,000IU of vitamin D3 to ensure you get your daily dose of sunshine. This can help muscle recovery, bone strengthening, and mood boosting!
- Contains 5,000IU of Vitamin D3
- 3rd Party Tested
- Made With Coconut Oil
- Supports Strong Immune System
- Non-GMO and Gluten Free
Without having to risk exposure to harmful UV rays, you can get the necessary vitamin D to promote health and happiness with Vitamin D3. And thanks to the added fat from the coconut oil, this vitamin D3 will be better soluble and bioavailable for your body’s consumption!
Enjoy getting your body back to healthy with this amazing Vitamin D supplement!Keep Reading »
With 5,000IU of Vitamin D3 per capsule, NOW Nutrition has ensured a quality product for an excellent price. Something that will boost your immune system, promote bone health, and strengthen heart and brain health. Start feeling better NOW!Keep Reading »
Try these delicious Vitafusion Vitamin D3 Gummy Vitamins to boost your immune system, bone health, and mood! These easy to take gummies come in a variety of flavors and make taking your vitamins something to look forward to!Keep Reading »
These capsules are a great addition to your daily routine. Their low dosage makes it easier to control how much your body gets every day and to notice the real benefits that come from having it in your system! Enjoy watching your body feel better and stronger as you take Nature Made’s Vitamin D3.Keep Reading »
Vitamin D is necessary to promote heart, bone, immune system, and emotional health. Solgar Vitamin D3 is guaranteed vegan/vegetarian, gluten, wheat, and dairy free, Non-GMO, and entirely clean. This product is great for people looking for an entirely natural and clean way to boost vitamin D during their busy lives!Keep Reading »
Improve your cellular function, bone density, and heart health with Doctor's Best Vitamin D3. with 5,000IU per capsule and 360 softgels in a bottle, you can optimize your health all year round for just under $14!Keep Reading »
To promote heart, bone, immune system, and emotional health its important to improve your cellular function. Viva Naturals High Potency Vitamin D3 is a perfect addition to your daily diet because with 5,000IU of vitamin D3 per capsule it is guaranteeing a clean supplement to boost health.Keep Reading »
With 10,000IU per capsule Bronson Vitamin D3 is 100% USDA Certified Organic. It is also Non-GMO, and pharmaceutical grade. This product is built to rebuild health quickly and efficiently, and they’re so sure of success that Bronson Guarantees their product with a 365-Day money back policy!Keep Reading »
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