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8 Best Vitamin D Supplements to Take This Winter

Our bodies make vitamin D when we go in the sunlight. But most people aren't getting enough.

In this article:

Everyone knows vitamin D -- it's the nutrient we get from the sun. Vitamin D is important for several bodily functions, the main ones being bone and muscle strength and immune function. Still, about 35% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. Research has found that vitamin D deficiencies and diseases like depression, diabetes and cancer are correlated.

Vitamin D is essential. But with winter coming and food source limitations, getting vitamin D isn't always as easy as walking out in the sun. Supplements are used to combat such deficiencies. 

A note on units of measurement for vitamin D supplements -- different brands use different units in their marketing. Some measure in micrograms (mcg), while others use international units (IU). The nutritional label typically has both units and the percentage of the daily recommended value. It can get confusing. 

Quick conversions that will help you read this list:

  • 25 mcg = 1,000 IU
  • 50 mcg = 2,000 IU
  • 100 mcg = 4,000 IU
  • 125 mcg = 5,000 IU

Vitamin D supplements span quality, dosage and price point. There are many options, but we narrowed it down to the top eight best vitamin D supplements. 

HUM

Hum Nutrition Here Comes the Sun is the best overall vitamin D supplement because of its vitamin content and rigorous testing. According to the Hum Nutrition website, this vitamin D supplement boosts mood, maintains your immune system and aids calcium absorption. 

It's a non-GMO and gluten-free vitamin D supplement free of artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. With the serving size of one softgel, you get 250% of your recommended daily value of vitamin D. The vitamin D source was derived from lichen, which makes this vitamin D supplement great for vegans and vegetarians.

Hum Nutrition's vitamin D supplements are sustainably sourced and feature third-party testing. 

Price: $19 for a 30-day supply

Vitamin D per serving: 50 mcg or 250% of the daily value 

Serving size: One softgel, daily

Hum Nutrition's best features: 

  • Hum Nutrition Here Come the Sun has a high potency of vegan D3 sourced from lichen. 
  • Independent third-party labs verify the quality and purity of this vitamin D supplement. However, third-party organizations are not listed. 
  • Products are made in GMP-certified factories.

Things to consider:

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Nature Made

Nature Made vitamin supplements are often my choice for budget shoppers because of the price, vitamin content and company reputation. The Nature Made Vitamin D3 Softgels are available in multiple dosages, so you can choose which works best for you. They have dosages from 25 mcg to a maximum of 250 mcg. 

You really can't beat the price of Nature Made. You can get up to a 250-day supply for under $20. Not to mention that the softgels are small and easy to swallow -- and you only have to take one per day. 

Price: $16.93 for a 250-day supply

Vitamin D per serving: 50 mcg or 250% of the daily value

Serving size: one softgel, daily

Nature Made's best features: 

  • The Nature Made vitamin D supplement is gluten-free and doesn't contain any added colors or artificial flavors.
  • Nature Made is a trusted brand that produces supplements that are USP-verified. 
  • With Nature Made, you can choose the dosage you need. 

Things to consider:

  • This softgel vitamin D supplement includes gelatin, making it unsuitable for vegans and vegetarians. 
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Pure Encapsulations

If you have trouble swallowing pills, liquid vitamin D options are available – the best of which is Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3 liquid. 

It's a small bottle that's easy to transport, which allows you to add it to food anywhere. It's also flavorless. Liquid supplements give you the flexibility that capsule or pill supplements can't. You can also alter the dosage based on seasons and needs. Remember to always pay close attention to how much you're ingesting. 

This vitamin D supplement is sourced from lichen. It includes no artificial flavors and is gluten-free and non-GMO. Pure Encapsulation products are third-party tested by organizations like Advanced Laboratories, Eurofins and Intertek

Price: $29.55 for 22.5 ml bottle

Vitamin D per serving: 25 mcg or 125% of vitamin D of the daily value

Serving size: One drop, daily

Pure Encapsulations' best features

  • Supplements from Pure Encapsulation are produced in a facility that meets USP expectations. Products have gone through several rounds of third-party testing.

Things to consider:

  • While liquid options offer dosage flexibility, it does create the opportunity to take more than you anticipate. 
$44 at Amazon
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LIfe Extension

For people who need a higher dose of vitamin D, -- those with malabsorption syndromes, osteoporosis or liver failure -- Life Extension Vitamin D3 supplement is a good choice. Most vitamin D supplements have 25 mcg to 50 mcg. The vitamin D supplement from Life Extension offers 125 mcg or 5,000 IU, which is significantly more than other brands.

Given this vitamin D supplement has such a high dosage, it's important to speak to your doctor before taking it. It shouldn't be taken by the average person who doesn't need a huge boost of vitamin D. Life Extension's bottle label advises you to meet with your doctor for regular blood tests to determine your vitamin D levels. 

Price: $15.17 for a 120-day supply

Vitamin D per serving: 125 mcg or 625% of the daily value

Serving size: one softgel, daily

Life Extension's best features

  • The high dose of this supplement is great for people who need a large dose of vitamin D. 
  • Life Extension's vitamin D supplement is ConsumerLab and NSF certified

Things to consider:

  • The dosage of this vitamin D supplement is more than most people need. You shouldn't take this supplement without talking to your doctor first. 
  • The softgel contains gelatin, which makes this supplement unsuitable for vegans or vegetarians.
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Truvani

Many vitamin D supplements happen to be vegan. However, Truvani is the best vegan vitamin D supplement. It's a plant-based and USDA-certified organic supplement sourced from organic lichens that doesn't include additives or processed ingredients. This vitamin D supplement has an average amount of vitamin D at 50 mcg. This vitamin D supplement comes in a small, uncoated tablet. It's easy to swallow, but you can also add it to smoothies or drinks and let it dissolve. 

Price: $14.99 for a 30-day supply

Vitamin D per serving: 50 mcg or 250% of the daily value

Serving size: one tablet, daily

Truvani's best features: 

  • Truvani's vitamin D supplement is certified vegan, USDA organic, non-GMO verified and gluten-free. 

Things to consider:

  • Given the uncovered tablets, some customer reviews state that this vitamin D supplement can be hard to swallow. 
$15 at Amazon
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Nordic Naturals

Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 Gummies are an all-natural supplement free of artificial sugars or additives. With this vitamin D supplement, you get a solid dose of vitamin D without all the extras that gummy vitamins tend to have. 

This gummy vitamin D supplement features a wild berry flavor with organic sucrose and fumaric acid sour berry coating. An important thing to note is that while the sugars included are not artificial (organic sugar cane and organic tapioca syrup), there are still two grams of added sugar in this product. It's not the highest I've seen, but it's something to consider if you watch your sugar intake closely. Added sugars are extremely common in the gummy industry -- that's how they get their delicious flavors. Unlike other brands, Nordic Naturals also offers a zero-sugar version sweetened with xylitol.

Price: $12.07 for a 30-day supply

Vitamin D per serving: 25 mcg or 125% of the daily value.

Serving size: 1 gummy, daily

Nordic Naturals' best features: 

  • Nordic Naturals offers a Certificate of Analysis report for their supplements. All you have to do is enter your bottle's lot number on the website. 
  • Customer reviews praise the wild berry flavor, adding they are great for kids.  

Things to consider:

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Ritual

Ritual is a well-known vitamin subscription service. It's the best multivitamin with vitamin D because of its traceable ingredients and dense nutrient content. According to Ritual, the Essential Multivitamin helps bone health, brain health and immune function. 

Ritual multivitamins include a vegan D3 ingredient made from UK-sourced lichen. With each serving, you get 50 mcg of vitamin D, double what some supplements offer. Since it's a multivitamin, you get additional nutrients like folate and iron

Ritual supplements are backed by a clinical study that found that the Ritual Essential Multivitamin for Women resulted in a 43% increase in vitamin D levels. It's worth noting that Ritual was involved in the study. 

Price: $30 for a 30-day supply

Vitamin D per serving: 50 mcg or 250% of the daily value.

Serving size: two capsules, daily

Ritual's best features: 

  • Ritual makes products with a visible supply chain and are USP-verified. 
  • This multivitamin is vegan, non-GMO and gluten-free.

Things to consider:

  • Ritual is a subscription service. This means it might not be within everyone's budget. 
FullWell

Vitamin D is essential for pregnancy as it aids in the development of a baby's bones. Vitamin D deficiencies during pregnancy have been linked to newborns' disordered skeletal homeostasis or fractures. Experts recommend that pregnant women intake up to 4,000 IU (100 mcg) of vitamin D3 daily to prevent preterm births and infections

Most vitamin D supplements don't offer that much vitamin D3 per serving. However, the FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin does. Developed by a fertility nutrition expert, FullWell supplements are non-GMO and free of common allergens like nuts, dairy, gluten and shellfish. 

FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin includes the recommended 4,000 IU of vitamin D and all other nutrients a pregnant person needs -- like vitamins A, V, E and B6. This supplement also offers a hefty dose of pantothenic acid at 2,143% daily value and biotin at 1,429%. 

Price: $49.95 for a 30-day supply

Vitamin D per serving: 100 mcg or 667% of the daily value

Serving size: eight capsules, daily 

FullWell's best features: 

  • FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin is GMP certified, meaning the products produced meet good manufacturing practice standards.
  • This prenatal multivitamin is third-party tested and offers a certificate of analysis if you request it. 

Things to consider:

  • Prenatal vitamins typically have larger serving sizes. FullWell Prenatal vitamins are on the higher side, with eight daily capsules. Thankfully, the website states that you can open the capsules and mix the supplement powder into cool drinks like smoothies. 

How we chose the best vitamin D supplements

When choosing the best vitamin D supplements for this list, we considered factors like price, dosage and vitamin D source. We also paid close attention to third-party certifications that the products carry. Due to the limited FDA regulations in the vitamin and supplement industry, third-party testing and certifications are essential to determine product quality and purity. We did not test these products in-house. We relied on customer reviews for things like taste and ease of swallowing. 

Things to consider when shopping for the best vitamin D supplement

Our bodies need vitamin D, and as a result, there are a ton of supplements out there with vitamin D in them. From pure vitamin D supplements to multivitamins or prenatal supplements, there tends to be vitamin D in all of them. So which vitamin D supplement should you buy? 

When shopping for vitamin D supplements, keep these key factors in mind:

  • Your ideal dosage: Vitamin D supplements can significantly vary in dosage. Vitamin D is generally considered safe. However, you should still be mindful of how much you're taking. The side effects of taking too much vitamin D include vomiting or nausea, constipation and loss of appetite. More severely, it can be linked to heart rhythm issues or kidney damage. According to the National Institutes of Health, adults should take around 10-20 mcg or 400-800 IU of vitamin D daily. 
  • Supplement form: Vitamin D supplements are available in tablets, softgels, gummies and liquid forms. Liquid forms can be more difficult to manage dosage but are a great option for those who have trouble swallowing pills. 
  • Vitamin D source: Many vitamin D supplements are made from animal products -- like fats extracted from wool. If you're a vegetarian or vegan and want to avoid animal products, pay close attention to the supplement label, which will tell you the source. There are several vegan vitamin D supplements available. 
  • Quality: To ensure the quality and purity of the vitamin D supplement, it's best to choose products that have third-party certifications like USP or ConsumerLab. This shows that the product was tested by an outside organization and found pure and accurate to the label. 

Best vitamin D supplement FAQ

What is vitamin D good for?

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that our bodies need to maintain healthy bones and teeth. It allows the body to properly absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is also important for regulating inflammation and immune function in the body. 

What causes a vitamin D deficiency?

Our bodies create vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Still, vitamin D deficiencies are extremely common. Some are more likely to develop a deficiency than others, which requires supplementation, including people who live in cold or dark areas that don't get much sunlight, older adults, pregnant people or people with darker skin tones. Pigmentation can block sunlight absorption. Because of this, Americans of color have a deficiency rate of 70%.

Read more: Vitamin D Is Crucial for Immune Health -- Make Sure You're Getting Enough

Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiencies:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Muscle or bone pain
  • Muscle twitching 
  • Stiff joints
  • Increased instances of falls and fractures

What's the difference between vitamin D and D3?

Vitamin D is broken down into two main forms -- vitamin D2 and D3. The difference is where they come from. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is found in plant sources like mushrooms or fungi. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol is derived from animal sources. 

How often should you take vitamin D supplements?

Unlike other nutrients, our bodies store vitamin D in fat cells, which allow them to release it when needed. Many supplements with higher doses of vitamin D are not designed to be taken each day since there likely already is some stored in the body. Taking too much vitamin D can result in stomach discomfort, weight loss and kidney issues. A lower vitamin D supplement is considered safe, particularly if you're deficient in vitamin D.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.