Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more
Are you getting enough D? (Ummm, we mean vitamin D.) Your body makes this vitamin when exposed to sunlight (and can get it from some foods), but sometimes you still might not get enough. That’s when a vitamin D supplement can help you reap the benefits of sunshine.
About 1 billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency. And about 50 percent of the population has an insufficiency (meaning they don’t have a full deficiency, but they’re definitely not getting enough vitamin D).
Thankfully, you can take a vitamin D supplement when the sun isn’t shining. We’ve made it simple for you by narrowing down the best vitamin D supplements.
We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
Vitamin D is one of four fat-soluble vitamins (the others are vitamins K, E, and A). Your body needs it for calcium and phosphorus absorption, bone health, and muscle growth and development.
Considering that so many people don’t get enough of this vitamin, a supplement can be a good way to ensure you meet your daily vitamin D needs.
A little science lesson: There are actually two forms of vitamin D — D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). The only difference is in the chemical side chains, but both are well absorbed in the gut.
Supplements can be made with either D2 or D3, but most research shows that vitamin D3 increases the level of vitamin D in your blood to a greater extent and for longer than D2 does.
The sun doesn’t shine all the time, and you probably don’t always get enough vitamin D from food. If you live in a place where it rains, sleets, and snows, it’s not always possible to get enough vitamin D from the sun.
Certain individuals and populations are also at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, including:
- older adults
- people with higher body weights
- people in nursing homes or hospitals
- people with higher skin melanin (darker skin tones)
Another challenge: Your body needs UVB radiation in order to absorb sunlight and convert it to usable vitamin D3. UV radiation is considered a carcinogen and is one of the biggest reasons for skin cancer. Using sunscreen blocks UV exposure, which reduces your risk of cancer but also blocks some vitamin D-producing UV rays.
Other vitamin D benefits
To find the best vitamin D supplements, we looked at a few criteria:
- Quality. We chose products from manufacturers that have strict standards for quality and purity.
- Rave reviews. Supplements are a dime a dozen — one Google search will show you thousands to choose from. We chose products that had great reviews from A LOT of people.
- Nutrient bioavailability. This means your body will absorb and use most of the nutrient when you take the supplement.
- $ = under $15
- $$ = $15–$20
- $$$ = over $20
Best vitamin D liquid softgel
1. Sports Research Vitamin D3 — 360 count
Not only will this supplement last you a year at a reasonable price, but it also has the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) stamp of approval from the FDA. Plus, it’s made without gluten, soy, or GMOs.
Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, consuming it with a fatty meal can help your body absorb the vitamin. A 2015 study found that plasma vitamin D3 levels were 32 percent greater in people who took the supplement with a fat-containing meal compared to a fat-free meal. This specific supplement is infused with coconut oil, so the fat comes along with it!
Considerations: Although the addition of coconut oil can help with absorption, it also means that folks with an allergy to tree nuts may need to choose a different D3 supplement. If you’re allergic to nuts, steer clear unless your doctor gives the OK.
How to take it: Take 1 softgel per day, which provides 5,000 IU (125 mcg) of vitamin D.
2. NatureWise Vitamin D3 — 360 count
This D3 supplement uses cold-pressed organic olive oil to help with absorption, so this softgel is a better option for people with tree nut allergies. It’s also free of the top eight major food allergens: wheat, soy, dairy, corn, eggs, peanuts, fish, and shellfish.
Considerations: One downside is that this product isn’t vegan — the capsules are made with gelatin.
How to take it: Take 1 softgel per day for 5,000 IU (125 mcg) of vitamin D3.
Best high dose vitamin D supplement
3. BioLabs Pro Vitamin D Cream — 3 ounces
This is the only supplement on our list that you don’t take internally, and it has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin D3 on the market: 15,000 IU! Beyond that, it contains vitamin K2 to enhance bioavailability, as well as olive leaf extract, vitamin C, and vitamin E to help your skin glow.
It might seem odd to use a cream to meet your vitamin D3 needs, but a 2018 study found that topical vitamin D can raise your blood levels and be an alternative to oral supplements.
Considerations: While this cream doesn’t contain harmful ingredients or preservatives, it’s best to test it on a small area of skin before slathering yourself with it, especially if you have sensitive skin.
How to use it: The suggested use is 1 pump per day, which will give you 15,000 IU of vitamin D3.
Best vitamin D chewables
4. Nature Made Vitamin D3 Chewable (Grape Flavor) — 120 count
This product has rave reviews and a lot of ’em, and pharmacists often recommend this brand. And who doesn’t love a chewable to bring you back to your childhood Flintstones vitamin days?
Considerations: That purple hue comes from red and blue dyes. Food dyes are generally considered safe, but some people may have sensitivities. According to a 2010 article, Red 40 (the dye used in this supplement) is also one of the most-consumed dyes and it may contain small amounts of a possible carcinogen.
How to take it: Take 1 tablet per day at a meal for 1,000 IU (25 mcg) of vitamin D.
5. Carlyle Chewable D3 (Natural Berry Flavor) — 180 count
Another CGMP-approved product, these chewables are packaged in the USA and made in an FDA-regulated facility. With each chewable tablet, you’ll get 2,000 IU of vitamin D without any gluten, lactose, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors or colors.
A lot of reviewers also mention the ease of chewing these vitamins, since they’re small and have a tolerable flavor.
Considerations: These vitamins contain artificial sugar to keep them from tasting like bitter chalk. Artificial sugars are regulated by the FDA but can cause digestive issues for some people who are more sensitive to them.
How to take it: Take 1 tablet per day with a meal — this will provide 2,000 IU (50 mcg) of vitamin D.
Best vitamin D gummies
6. Mama Bear Organic Kids Vitamin D3 — 80 count
Want a gummy supplement that tastes like candy but is actually good for you and any kiddos? These organic fruity gummies include strawberry, lemon, and orange flavors and support strong bones and immune health. Even though they’re advertised as kids’ vitamins, we promise they’ll benefit you too (and we won’t tell 🤫).
Considerations: These gummies have a bit of added sugar (1 gram, to be exact) to make them tolerable for the little ones. They also use organic natural flavors and colors.
How to take it: Adults and kids age 2 and older can take 1 gummy daily for 1,000 IU of D3.
7. Nature’s Way Alive! Calcium + D3 Gummies — 60 count
The addition of calcium and fruit/veggie powder sets this supplement apart to give your bones some extra love. Like vitamin D, calcium is important for strong bones — and your body needs vitamin D to help it absorb calcium. These gummies are also gelatin-free and gluten-free.
Considerations: Due to the ingredients, a two-gummy dose contains 25 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates. And you’ll need to stock up on these — with 60 gummies per container and a dosage of 2 gummies twice a day, you’ll go through them quickly.
How to take it: Take 2 gummies (2,000 IU of D3 and 520 mg of calcium total) twice daily, with or without food.
Best vitamin D capsule
8. NOW High Potency Vitamin D3 — 120 count
If you’re forgetful, you’ll like that you only have to take this supplement once every 2 days. These vitamins also offer CGMP quality assurance and are free of the top eight allergens.
Considerations: If you’re vegetarian or vegan, this one is a no-go since it’s made with bovine gelatin.
How to take it: Take 1 capsule (5,000 IU or 125 mcg) every 2 days with a fat-containing meal.
Best vitamin D drops
9. Thorne Liquid Vitamin D/K2 Liquid — 1 fluid ounce
You get two fat-soluble vitamins in one with vitamin K and D in this liquid. A 2017 review found that having optimal intake of both K and D was important for bone and cardiovascular health.
This product is also free of the major allergens and has simple dosing that can make it easy to use for both kids and adults.
Considerations: Due to the addition of vitamin K, this may not be a good option for you if you’re on blood-thinning medication. Vitamin K can counteract the effects of those medications.
How to take it: Take 2 drops one to three times daily (2 drops contain 1,000 IU or 25 mcg of vitamin D3).
Best vegan vitamin D supplement
10. Naturelo Vitamin D3 — 180 count
A lot of vitamin D3 supplements are made from lanolin (sheep’s wool), but that just doesn’t work in the vegan lifestyle. This supplement is made from wild-harvested lichen, which is a fungus. Since fungi grow outdoors, they’re exposed to UVB rays.
This product also doesn’t contain GMOs, soy, gluten, dairy, corn, nuts, additives, preservatives, or coloring.
Considerations: It comes only in capsule form, which some people may not prefer, and it’s pricey.
How to take it: Take 1 capsule daily with food (5,000 IU or 125 mcg).
11. Garden of Life mykind Organics Vegan D3 Chewable (Raspberry-Lemon Flavor) — 30 count
If capsules aren’t your thing, these chewables are certified organic, non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free. They contain a mixture of lichen and organic mushroom for D3. Mushrooms could contain more than 10 micrograms of vitamin D, depending on their UV exposure.
This product also contains an organic food blend (a mixture of flaxseed, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach) for added nutrients. Even the raspberry-lemon flavor is created with organic flavoring and no added sugar or artificial sweetener.
Considerations: The quantity is on the small side. With only a 30-day supply, you’ll need to reorder more often.
How to take it: Chew 1 tablet daily, which will give you 5,000 IU (50 mcg) of vitamin D.
Before diving into the world of vitamin D supplementation, call up your doctor and get your blood levels tested. This is the only way you’ll know if you have a vitamin D deficiency. From there, your doc will be able to determine a dose that’s ideal for you.
You may have noticed that all the vitamin D supplements on this list surpass the recommended intakes we mentioned earlier. There’s also a daily upper limit of 100 mcg (4,000 IU) for children over 9 years old, adults, and folks who are pregnant or breastfeeding. A severe deficiency sometimes requires a larger dose at first, followed by maintenance dosage.
When you browse this list or go shopping for a vitamin D supplement, consider your specific needs. Do you prefer capsules, gummies, or liquid? The options are endless.
It’s also important to pay close attention to ingredients so you don’t choose a product that contains something you’re allergic to or that you avoid for personal reasons. Third-party certifications that give the product a thumbs-up are also a bonus!
Be careful, though!
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning your body will store the excess if you take too much. This can lead to kidney damage and heart issues — but these complications are rare since so many people are deficient in vitamin D. Always talk to your doctor before committing to a daily supplement.