We can make vitamin D when sunshine hits our skin or consume it through fortified foods, but vitamin D deficiencies are commonplace in contemporary life. They’re so prevalent that about one in eight people globally — or a whopping one billion people — and more than one in four people in the United States have a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiencies often don’t have symptoms but can cause serious long-term health problems, from osteoporosis to cancer.
However, more people know about vitamin D deficiencies and are willing to take supplements for them than other deficiencies. A 2019 survey found that 31% of American adults take a vitamin D supplement, making it the second most popular supplement in the U.S. But hundreds of vitamin D supplements are on the market, and not all of them are made to the same standards.
We put together our list of the top eight vitamin D supplements to help you find the highest quality vitamin D supplement for your health needs at the best price. This guide walks you through their safety, cost, and clinical studies to help you determine if you might benefit.
In a hurry? Check out our top picks below.
- Best overall: Persona Vitamin D3
- Runner-up overall: HUM Nutrition Here Comes the Sun
- Best budget pick: Thorne Vitamin D/K2
- Best in bulk: NOW Nutrition Vitamin D3 5,000IU
- Most potent: Pure Encapsulations D3 10,000IU
- Best vegan: HUM Nutrition Here Comes the Sun
- Best liposomal: Renue By Science Liposomal Vitamin D3 & K2
- Best gummies: Nordic Naturals Zero Sugar D3 Gummies
- Best liquid: Thorne Vitamin D/K2
Here Comes the Sun is a completely vegan solution to vitamin D deficiency. One capsule a day contains 2,000IU of lichen-derived Vitamin D3.
HUM Nutrition's streamlined formula includes scientifically-backed ingredients. Each capsule is free from allergens, artificial flavors, preservatives, and GMOs. Enjoy free shipping on orders over $50.
- Vitamin D: Top considerations
- How our top recommendations compare
- What is vitamin D?
- Why is vitamin D so important?
- Are vitamin D supplements safe?
- Who could benefit from a vitamin D supplement
- Persona Nutrition Vitamin D3
- HUM Nutrition Here Comes the Sun
- NOW Vitamin D3
- Thorne Vitamin D + K2 Liquid
- Pure Encapsulations D3
- Nordic Naturals Zero Sugar D3 Gummies
- Renue By Science Liposomal Vitamin D3 & K2
- Care/Of Vitamin D
- Alternatives to supplementing with vitamin D
- FAQ about vitamin D
- Why you should trust us
When we research a vitamin D supplement to determine its strengths and weaknesses, there are a few criteria we use: cost, safety, ingredients, how well it works, and how convenient it is to take.
Winners: Persona and Thorne
Supplements are an investment in your health. However, just because it’s an investment doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. A supplement should be affordable enough to make long-term use accessible, but the number of servings per container can help stretch out a higher price. We also look for subscription programs, bulk deals, shipping costs, and money-back guarantees to ensure you get the best price possible.
If you want to try vitamin D but don’t want to shell out more than a few dollars to sample a supplement, Persona might be your best option. Each 28-count box costs less than two dollars, meaning that you’ll pay all of six cents per day to try this vitamin D supplement. And while shipping charges can be steep if you don’t order at least $50 worth of products from Persona, the added $8 doesn’t bump Persona over $10 every month with their automatic subscription. You can also get up to 60% off your first month from Persona when you take their nutrition assessment.
While you might pay more upfront for Thorne’s liquid vitamin D and K2 supplement than some of our other picks, each bottle contains 600 servings. That’s almost two years’ worth of vitamin D. Each 30mL bottle is made with dark amber glass to prevent any oxidation that will turn it rancid, ensuring that it stays good long enough for you to use it. One bottle costs less than $30, meaning you’ll be paying pennies a day for your supplement, and its longevity means you’ll save time and money by avoiding frequent re-orders. Thorne has a generous 60-day money-back guarantee, and you can save up to 20% by signing up for a subscription (though you’re unlikely to need it).
Winner: HUM Nutrition
A supplement needs to be able to do what it says it’s going to. If a manufacturer can provide direct links to studies, it shows they’ve done their research and are likely keeping their promises reasonable. Keeping the dose in line with the scientific consensus on appropriate amounts can bolster a supplement’s efficacy.
HUM Nutrition relies on science to explain precisely how their vitamin D supplement, Here Comes the Sun, can work for you. They guide you through whether or not it’s safe to mix Here Comes the Sun with other vitamin D and calcium supplements and directly reference scientific studies when explaining its effectiveness. Plus, it contains 2,000IU of pure vegan vitamin D3 (a recent innovation) in softgel form, giving your body the bandwidth to absorb as much as possible.
Winner: Renue By Science and Persona
Safety is one of the most important things we keep in mind when picking our top supplements. After all, a supplement is supposed to improve your health, not put it at risk. This means that we pay attention to how much of each ingredient is present, if there are any unlabeled allergens or other questionable ingredients, and if there are any additional or avoidable contraindications. A company’s commitment to safety looks like getting FDA certification for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP or cGMP) and independent third-party lab testing for purity, potency, and dosage to ensure you’re getting what they claim you are without bias. A great pick will give you access to their Certificates of Analysis, the paperwork a third-party lab fills out with information about their testing results.
Renue By Science is our top pick for supplement safety because of their commitment to transparency. They offer three distinct types of testing: one for raw ingredients, one to ensure that each product contains the right ingredients in the right amount, and one every three months to ensure that the product isn’t going rancid on the shelf. They also upload their Certificates of Analysis directly onto the product page so you can see exactly who did the testing, when, and what they found without having to reach out to customer service and wait for an answer. Their vitamin D3 and K2 supplement’s gel form makes it slightly more difficult to dose accurately. Still, the rough estimation of vitamin D3 and K2 dosing is significantly lower than the upper limit, keeping both vitamins in a safe range for most people. The formula is entirely vegan and contains no artificial ingredients, gluten, or GMOs.
Persona might not have as much transparency around their testing practices, but they make everything you’ll need to know about taking a vitamin D supplement as straightforward as possible. They explain how and why it works, why they use vitamin D3 over other forms of vitamin D, when it might be best to take it, and even provide a size guide so you can get a sense of how tiny each softgel is. Persona also has a huge drug-nutrient interaction database, so you can double-check to ensure that your new vitamin D3 supplement won’t compound with any medications or other supplements you might already take. They give you all of the information you need to keep your safety in the front of your mind. Plus, they’re formulated without any major allergens, artificial ingredients, or GMOs.
There are many different ingredients a vitamin D supplement can include to improve its effects, thanks to the widespread influence of vitamin D on the body. However, that influence can be a double-edged sword, making it difficult to parse what’s actually helping you. Our top picks are streamlined and simple, using only vitamin D3 around or under the well-studied upper dosing limit of 4,000IU. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, the supplements should also include oil (either in a liquid or softgel form) to maximize how much you absorb.
While NOW’s vitamin D3 softgel has slightly more than the upper limit in every dose (5,000IU), it still provides an appropriate amount for those who are clinically deficient. More importantly, however, is its UL Dietary Supplement Certification. The UL (Underwriters Laboratories) certification program is the most rigorous standard for supplement manufacturing, and NOW was one of the first companies to earn this seal of approval. None of our other top picks have this honor, and alongside their rigorous in-house testing and ecologically sustainable ingredient sourcing from lanolin (an oil found in sheep wool), NOW provides some of the cleanest ingredients at a potent dose and great price.
No matter what you’re trying, there’s no guarantee that a supplement will work for you. However, it’s important to give yourself the best chance of success by taking it regularly per the manufacturer’s requirements. A convenient supplement is one you’re most likely to stick with and has few hurdles that could keep you from using it well.
Thorne’s liquid vitamin D and K2 drops come in a bottle with 600 servings. You’ll only have to take two drops every day to feel its full effects, and while you’ll have to hold it under your tongue, you won’t even need a sip of water to take this supplement (unless you mix the liquid supplement into a food or drink of your choice). It’s easy to take on the go, and you can take it at any time or with any food you’d like (or none at all). Thorne offers this vitamin D supplement as part of their subscription program with additional savings. You’re unlikely to need it, considering there is almost two years’ worth of servings in an amber-colored bottle that protects the formula from oxidative damage.
Persona and HUM Nutrition also get a nod from us in this category for being purely subscription-based products. You won’t have to lift a finger to automatically get a new package on your doorstep once a month, ensuring there are no gaps in your care if re-ordering slips your mind.
We’ve put together a chart that covers every important feature of our top vitamin D supplements to help you compare and contrast the benefits of each. Check it out below.
|Persona||HUM||NOW||Thorne||Pure Encapsulations||Nordic Naturals||Renue By Science||Care/Of|
|Number of servings||28||30||120||600||60||60||60||30|
|Cost per serving||$0.06||$0.40||$0.11||$0.05||$0.47||$0.28||$0.38||$0.23|
|Vitamin D content||1,000IU||2,000IU||5,000IU||1,000IU||10,000IU||1,000IU||2,500IU||1,000IU|
|Other major ingredients?||Extra virgin olive oil||Extra virgin olive oil||Vitamin K2, MCT oil||Cellulose||Vitamin K, sunflower lecithin, stevia extract, MCT oil||Acacia, rice extract blend, acai powder|
|Subscription option?||Subscription only||Subscription only||
|Return policy (days)||14||30||30||60||30||30||30||30 (first delivery only)|
Vitamin D is an essential, fat-soluble nutrient. Our bodies don’t make vitamin D on their own, so we need to get it from outside sources. It’s found in a few foods — like egg yolks, beef liver, fatty fish, and mushrooms — but is mainly created directly from sunlight.
The sun produces two kinds of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that reach Earth: UVA and UVB. UVA rays have a long wavelength and are associated with skin aging and deep damage, whereas UVB’s shorter rays are associated with sunburns and topical skin problems. Sunblock may stop one or both from penetrating our skin. When UVB rays hit our skin, the cholesterol in our cells creates vitamin D. People with higher levels of melanin (darker skin tones) get less UVB, as melanin serves a protective role, blocking UVB radiation from penetrating the skin. This protective effect means that people with darker skin are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency regardless of how long they spend in the sun.
After skin cells create vitamin D, it goes into the bloodstream and is converted into a bioavailable form by the kidneys.
Vitamin D is most known for keeping our bones strong, but it supports many other parts of the body, including:
- Immune system
- Musculoskeletal system
- Nervous system
Vitamin D also helps your body maintain adequate calcium and phosphorus levels, as the body can only absorb calcium in the presence of vitamin D. The vitamin promotes protein production to help your body absorb vitamin K, so raising your vitamin D levels can improve how much vitamin K you’re taking in and improve your cardiovascular health. And magnesium also activates every enzyme related to vitamin D’s production and activation.
Sometimes, you’ll see vitamin D labeled as “D3.” This happens because there are two forms of vitamin D: D2 (or ergocalciferol) and D3 (or cholecalciferol). Vitamin D3 has been shown repeatedly in clinical studies and meta-analyses to be the best for our bodies.
How much vitamin D do I need?
Vitamin D is measured in a different unit than other vitamins, called an international unit (IU). This unit is standard when we talk about fat-soluble essential vitamins (A, E, and K), and the conversion rate varies depending on the vitamin. For vitamin D, one microgram (1mcg) is equal to 40IU. Since most supplement manufacturers list vitamin D content in IU, we’ll use IU throughout this guide.
There are clear recommendations on how much vitamin D you should get daily. According to the National Institutes of Health, these numbers are:
- 0-12 months: 400IU
- 1-69 years: 600IU
- 70+ years: 800IU
However, if you’re deficient in vitamin D, taking up to 5,000IU a day (or 10,000IU under the supervision of a doctor) can replenish your stock. A 1,000IU daily supplement is enough for most people.
The number of ways that vitamin D can support the body feels endless. Without it, our bodies can’t make or use calcium or phosphorus. A lack of vitamin D complicates our ability to use vitamin K. It’s such a critical nutrient that some experts call for vitamin D to be reclassified as a hormone rather than an essential vitamin, especially when considering its structural similarities to cholesterol and adrenal hormones.
Researchers and medical experts are investigating many conditions that may be influenced by vitamin D. However, there are a few that vitamin D is highly correlated with, and one which the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine deemed a true causal relationship.
Vitamin D deficiencies are firmly related to declines in bone health. Too little vitamin D for a long time or during critical periods of development can lead to soft or weak bones in a condition known as osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children. It also leaves you more susceptible to breaks and fractures, osteoporosis, and other forms of bone loss. Likewise, vitamin D supports your skeletal muscles (though taking a supplement won’t help you in the gym).
Other things we know that vitamin D influences include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Body weight
- Infections, particularly upper respiratory infections (like COVID-19)
Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for some mental health problems, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), major depression, and schizophrenia. Low vitamin D levels can also impact some chronic illnesses and autoimmune disorders. A May 2022 study found that vitamin D is linked to C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a biomarker that indicates how much inflammation is in your body from any cause, from infections to lupus. And if your testosterone is chronically low, check your vitamin D levels — not having enough vitamin D can lead to a decline in testosterone production.
Vitamin D is also critical during pregnancy. Studies have revealed a relationship between maternal vitamin D deficiency and higher rates of congenital disabilities, preterm birth, and poor maternal health outcomes. Most prenatal vitamins include higher levels of vitamin D than a standard multivitamin to ensure expecting parents get everything they need for their fetus’s development.
Vitamin D supplements are some of the safest for otherwise healthy adults. Getting too much vitamin D can happen, however.
Because vitamin D is so well studied, medical experts have determined a tolerable upper intake level (UL). The UL of a given nutrient, medication, or supplement is how much an average adult can take without risking any potential harm to their health. Vitamin D’s UL is 4,000IU daily.
Unless you’ve recently taken a lab test that shows you are deficient in vitamin D and are taking the supplement under a doctor’s supervision, it’s best to stay below the UL. At best, taking too much vitamin D can offset some of its benefits; one 2010 study found that when women were given 500,000IU of vitamin D annually, their risk of bone fractures after falling increased. Those hospitalized for too much vitamin D take similarly large amounts — 50,000IU (and more) daily for months or years.
These situations are extreme, and it’s more likely that taking too much vitamin D will increase your calcium levels beyond the normal range. Having too much calcium can be dangerous, causing:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Kidney stones
- Kidney problems, leading to failure
- High blood pressure
If you don’t get enough sun exposure — roughly 30 minutes daily — you could likely use a vitamin D supplement. The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency are often vague and map on to many other concerns, so it’s always best to have your levels checked before starting a vitamin D supplement to rule out other health problems like hypothyroidism. Symptoms include:
- Bone aches or pains
- Chronic headaches
- Muscle weakness
- Appetite loss
- Pale skin
- Not sleeping well
Some groups of people are at a higher risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency. If you fall into one of these categories, a vitamin D supplement could be a good alternative to ensure you’re getting enough.
- Age 55 or older
- Have dark skin
- Have a menstrual cycle disorder (such as endometriosis or PCOS)
- Are obese
- Live at a high latitude
- Eat a vegetarian or vegan diet
- Have a poor diet
- Have a malabsorption disorder like celiac disease, IBS, or Crohn’s disease
- Have lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy
- Work in an office
One of the largest studies on vitamin D (and omega-3) supplementation from 2022 found that taking a vitamin D supplement decreased the risk of cancer in otherwise healthy African-American participants but showed no benefit for those who already have normal vitamin D levels. Like all supplements, adding vitamin D to your regimen will only help if you’re deficient. Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in trying a vitamin D supplement.
- Very low cost
- Comes in daily packets
- Provides common drug-nutrient interactions for your safety
- Jargon-free but comprehensive explanation of benefits
- Prepared in cGMP-compliant facilities
- Free shipping on orders over $50 to the U.S.
- Free advice from qualified nutritionists
- Get up to 60% off your first order by taking a 5-minute quiz
- Shipping fees can be steep
- Short return window
Persona offers a clean, well-developed personalized supplement subscription service. Here, you can get a vitamin D3 supplement for literally pennies a day. Of course, this isn’t just a cheap alternative that will leave your wallet feeling a little lighter; Persona’s supplements are well-tested by third parties and made in cGMP-compliant facilities. Their supplements are all high quality at a highly affordable price, and their D3 is part of an expansive catalog.
Each small softgel contains 1,000IU of vitamin D3. You’ll receive a box from Persona containing 28 individual packets with your daily supplement inside. (If you order other supplements, each packet will include those, too.) There are no requirements when you need to take your vitamin D3, but since it’s fat-soluble, we recommend that you take it with food.
Right off the bat, Persona offers just about every piece of advice you’d want to know when starting a vitamin D supplement. The webpage for their vitamin D3 supplement includes advice on whether or not vitamin D is right for you (though supplements can’t diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease in line with FDA guidelines). They offer quick, jargon-free explanations on why and how vitamin D3 works in our bodies and when to take it. You can also find a size guide to ensure you’ll be okay swallowing the small softgels.
Persona’s drug-nutrient interaction database, linked on their vitamin D3 webpage, is one of their best features. This archive contains every common prescription medication and over-the-counter options from Abilify and Benadryl to Zoloft and Zyrtec. To use it, you’ll input the medication you’re already taking. Persona will quickly match the medication with any supplements that could cause unpleasant side effects or keep your prescription from functioning as it should. This is an indispensable tool if you’re already taking medication, ensuring that you don’t run into any problems without having to call your doctor or take any risks.
It’s easiest to get your D3 from Persona by taking their nutrition assessment. The quiz took our testers five to ten minutes and asked a huge range of questions, encompassing things like:
- Historical and current health concerns
- Activity level
- Daily exposure to sunshine
- Total daily screen time
- If you’ve taken antibiotics in the last year
- Family history and DNA testing
- Diet and food group consumption
While Persona may not initially match you with their vitamin D3 supplement (and will have 4-5 other supplements added), you can change the contents of your cart with little hassle and still preserve a coupon for 60% off your first order.
One 28-day supply of vitamin D3 costs a meager $1.68 from Persona. However, what you save up front, you’ll pay for in shipping fees unless you combine your vitamin D3 order with other supplements you take. Persona offers free shipping on orders over $50 to the United States but charges a flat fee of $8 per order for those that don’t meet the minimum requirement. That’s substantially more than you’re paying for the supplement itself, but even with the added shipping charge, Persona is still the second cheapest supplement on our list.
Persona can ship just about anywhere in the world, but certain countries have some restrictions for a few types of supplements. Luckily, vitamin D3 isn’t anywhere on that list. You’ll spend between $5 and $25 on shipping fees for international orders.
All orders from Persona are subscription based; there are no one-time options. If you’d like to try the vitamin D3 supplement, you can start a subscription and cancel it after your first order is placed (or whenever you’re ready to try something new). And if you find you don’t like Persona for whatever reason, you can reach out to customer service to initiate a refund within two weeks of purchase.
Ultimately, Persona’s low cost and high regard for their customers’ safety proved to us that they truly have your best interest in mind. Check out our full review if you’re still curious about Persona’s catalog and subscription options beyond just vitamin D.
Runner-up overall and best vegan
- Completely vegan formula made from lichen
- Limited ingredients list
- Points directly to the latest research
- Free from allergens, artificial flavors, preservatives, and GMOs
- Provides free access to registered dieticians
- Free samples and gifts with every order
- Third-party tested three times
- Made in GMP-certified facilities
- Free shipping on orders over $50
- Only available as a subscription
Vegans are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency since several of the major food products that naturally contain or have been fortified with vitamin D are made from or by animals. However, the main form of vitamin D3 in supplements (lanolin) comes from an animal source, so many vegans get caught in a bind: compromise their lifestyle, take a D2 supplement (substantially less effective and more expensive), or stay deficient. Luckily, recent scientific advances have revealed a more effective way to get vitamin D3 for vegans. HUM Nutrition takes advantage of this for their vitamin D supplement, Here Comes the Sun.
These vegan capsules are made from lichen, an organism formed from a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae. Lichens are the most common and effective method of making vegan vitamin D3, as they can create a significant amount of vitamin D3 when exposed to UVB rays like our skin cells.
Each capsule contains 2,000IU of vitamin D3 made from lichen. Here Comes the Sun also uses extra virgin olive oil as a carrier oil within the vegan softgel capsule. You’ll only need to take one daily, and each bottle provides 30 capsules for one month of supplementation.
Like all HUM Nutrition supplements, Here Comes the Sun is strongly influenced by up-to-date research. A short reference list on its webpage, including a research study on vitamin D and sun exposure from 2020, helps show exactly how they decided to create and formulate this vitamin D supplement. Plus, each supplement is triple-tested by third-party and in-house labs for purity and potency, and HUM Nutrition’s products are always made in a GMP-certified facility.
HUM Nutrition offers several goodies along with each supplement order. By joining their subscription program (which is mandatory), you’ll also unlock:
- Free one-on-one advice from a registered dietician
- Early access to new products
- Free samples and surprise gifts in every order
While HUM Nutrition provides an excellent vitamin D3 supplement, its 2,000IU daily dose will likely be too strong for those who don’t have a vitamin D deficiency (or who have a very mild one).
Each bottle of Here Comes the Sun costs $12, and every order through HUM Nutrition is a subscription, so there are no discounts or deals. However, you can save up to 50% on your first order at checkout. Taking their nutrient quiz gifts you $10 off your first order, and you don’t have to purchase what their service has assigned you. Bundling Here Comes the Sun with other HUM Nutrition supplements and placing at least three orders in advance through one of their plans can also save you up to 25%.
Shipping is free for purchases over $50. Otherwise, you’ll pay $5.95 per shipment in fees. And if you decide you don’t want to try their vegan softgels, you can return your unopened bottle within 30 days of purchase for a full refund or an opened bottle for store credit. Like many other online shops, HUM Nutrition doesn’t refund the cost of shipping.
Want to know more about HUM Nutrition? Read more of our thoughts here.
Best in bulk
- Low cost for a large number of servings
- UL Certified
- Made according to GMP standards
- Free of GMOs and major allergens
- Comprehensive in-house testing
- 30-day return policy
- Free shipping on $50 or more to the contiguous U.S.
- No subscription available
- Contains gelatin
NOW is a widespread, high-quality supplement brand you’re likely to find in your local health food store. And since vitamin D3 is one of the most common supplements people take, it’s helpful that their High Potency Vitamin D3 softgels may be just a quick trip away.
These softgels contain 5,000IU of vitamin D3 made from lanolin, making them one of the strongest on our list. 5,000IU is technically more than the UL for vitamin D, but many physicians will recommend taking 5,000IU of vitamin D for a short period if bloodwork shows you’re clinically deficient. For those who tend to stay that way year-round, a 5,000IU supplement under a doctor’s supervision is a cost-efficient way to get the essential nutrient.
These supplements are strong, but they also have a short ingredient list (just vitamin D and extra virgin olive oil, which serves as a carrier) and contain no GMOs or common allergens. They’re mostly kosher (but the softgel is made from bovine gelatin) and halal. Most importantly, however, they’re Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certified. UL certification is one of the highest awards a supplement can get: it means that NOW has passed a series of comprehensive examinations at every stage of its development, from manufacturing to distribution. Between that and their robust in-house testing team, you can feel good knowing that multiple organizations have approved these supplements at every turn.
NOW sells their vitamin D3 softgels in two different bottle sizes: 120 softgels and 240 softgels. Considering one softgel is one serving, you’ll get at least four months’ worth per bottle. Both options are reasonably priced:
- 120 softgels: $12.99
- 240 softgels: $22.99
At this time, NOW doesn’t offer a subscription program, so you’ll need to manually reorder your bottle every few months. However, you can get free shipping if you order at least $50 of products from NOW’s website to the contiguous U.S. All other orders have a shipping charge of $6.95.
If you receive your bottle and decide you don’t want it, you can return your vitamin D within 30 days of purchase for a full refund. The bottle needs to be unopened and unused for your refund to be processed.
Best liquid and best budget pick
- Combines vitamins D and K2 for maximum effectiveness
- 600 servings per vial
- Only two drops per daily serving
- Gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free
- Tasteless and odorless
- Tested four times
- Manufactured in cGMP-compliant facilities
- Free shipping on all orders to the contiguous U.S.
- Subscribe and save up to 20%
- Dosing can be inconsistent
- Not appropriate for those taking anticoagulant medications
Not everyone can swallow a capsule. While most vitamin D supplements — including all of the ones on our list — are relatively small, that doesn’t mean they are accessible to everyone. Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s a perfect candidate for an oil-based formula. Thorne has created a high-quality, high-potency vitamin D oil that has added vitamin K2 for additional support. Since vitamin D increases the amount of vitamin K-dependent proteins in your body, pairing vitamin D and K allows them to work together, bolstering your:
- Immune system
- Cardiovascular health, particularly artery elasticity
- Bone health
- Calcium absorption
Taking vitamin D and K2 together also guarantees that calcium gets deposited in your bones rather than in soft tissues like your arteries, decreasing your risk of atherosclerosis. Vitamin D + K2 Liquid comes in a 1fl oz dark-colored bottle with a tiny dropper inside. The coloring helps to prevent or delay oxidization, the process that turns oil-based supplements rotten. The dropper is designed to help you get approximately the right amount every time. It’s suspended in medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, a popular type of palm oil-based ketogenic fat with several major health benefits, including weight loss and seizure reduction in those with epilepsy.
One serving contains 1,000IU of vitamin D3 and 200mcg of vitamin K2 in two drops. Getting two consistently sized drops daily can be challenging, so be aware that there will likely be fluctuations in your daily serving size. You can take these drops sublingually (holding them under your tongue) or mix them into food or a beverage of your choice, as there’s no lingering flavor, smell, or residue. There are 600 servings in every bottle, so you’ll have almost two years’ worth of vitamin D3 and K2 oil on hand for less than $30.
Vitamin K2’s presence means that people who take anticoagulant medications such as warfarin shouldn’t take this supplement, as vitamin K2 also has an anticoagulant effect. And as good as taking both D and K2 together may sound, there’s still a significant amount of research that needs to be done to guarantee that the combination is safe for everyone.
Thorne has excellent testing practices, checking each product four times during production for potency, purity, and proper dosing. All Thorne products are manufactured in GMP-certified facilities.
One bottle of Vitamin D + K2 Liquid costs $27 to purchase once, but Thorne also offers a Subscribe & Save program. You can save 10% by adding one or two items to a subscription program or 20% by adding three or more. However, these savings are only available after your first purchase. This means that you’ll always pay $27 on your first purchase of Vitamin D + K2 Liquid, but you can save a little bit on refills and repeat purchases:
- One or two items (10%): $24.30
- Three or more items (20%): $21.60
You can choose how frequently you’d like a new bottle through the subscription program:
- 30 days
- 45 days
- Two months
- Three months
- Four months
No matter how often you sign up for a new delivery, you can modify or cancel your subscription at any time.
All orders within the contiguous U.S. are eligible for free ground shipping. If you live in Alaska or Hawaii, you can unlock free shipping after spending $300, but the shipping cost is otherwise variable.
Not happy with taking a liquid vitamin? You can return your bottle for a refund or replacement within 60 days of purchase, thanks to Thorne’s 60-day satisfaction guarantee.
- Extremely high dose
- Contains only vitamin D and cellulose
- Made in a GMP-certified facility
- Free from major allergens and GMOs
- Free shipping on orders over $20
- Dose only suitable for use under a doctor’s supervision
- Capsules, not softgels
- No savings with subscription program
There’s a gene that most genetic health tests look at called the VDR gene. This gene tells your cells how to make vitamin D receptors, which are necessary for your body to use vitamin D. Some people have mutations in the VDR gene that mean their bodies don’t make many receptors, making it extremely difficult to maintain a normal vitamin D level. In this case (and a few other health conditions), your doctor might recommend taking an extremely high vitamin D dose to pull your levels up. We recommend Pure Encapsulation’s 10,000IU vitamin D capsules if this is your situation.
Because of their extremely high dosage, this vitamin D supplement isn’t safe for many people unless they’re monitored by a medical professional with regular blood tests. One capsule contains a full dose; you can’t easily split it into smaller quantities because each capsule is full of powder. That said, the fact that it’s a capsule full of powder rather than a softgel means that you probably won’t get all 10,000IU every time since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that works best when taken in or with fats. Be sure to take this supplement with a meal, and Pure Encapsulations specifies you shouldn’t take it more than five days weekly unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
Each capsule contains only vitamin D3 made from lanolin and hypoallergenic cellulose, leaving no room for extra ingredients. They’re made in a GMP-certified facility and are on track to have a fully recyclable process by 2025 with zero net greenhouse emissions by 2050. However, there are few notes about their current in-house or external testing processes.
You can find this vitamin D3 supplement at Walmart, on Amazon, and on your preferred vitamin marketplace’s website, but we found the best deals through Pure Formula’s website.
If you know you’ll want to replenish your vitamin D3 regularly, you can sign up for an Autoship program through Pure Formulas. You can completely customize how often you’d like to receive a bottle, as long as it’s between 30 and 180 days, but there are no savings associated with Pure Formula’s Autoship program. No matter how often you receive a delivery, you’ll pay the following prices through the Pure Formulas website:
- 60 capsules: $27.35
- 120 capsules: $46.30
All orders over $20 receive free standard shipping, but you can choose to ship your package faster for a fee. While every vitamin D3 purchase will automatically earn free shipping, orders under $20 have a shipping charge of $4.99. Unopened bottles can be returned within 30 days for a full refund, including free return shipping.
- Tastes sweet without added sugar
- Vegetarian formula
- Non-GMO verified
- Third-party tested
- Certificates of Analysis available on their website
- Subscribe & Save 10%
- Free shipping on every order
- Tough texture
- Toxic to pets
In the world of supplements, gummies aren’t always the best choice. They might taste better than a tablet, but they come with added sugar and a higher chance that the ingredients you want have denatured or become less effective during the cooking process. Plus, it’s harder for your stomach to break down a gummy and absorb the vitamins you need when compared to taking a softgel or capsule. Nordic Naturals fights against some of these common problems in their Zero Sugar Vitamin D3 Gummies.
Each bottle contains 60 gummies, and each gummy provides 1,000IU of vegetarian vitamin D3 in a Wild Berry flavor. Every ingredient comes from a vegetable-based source, meaning there’s no gelatin involved. This makes the gummies a little bit tougher and more firm than other gummies you might be familiar with, so they may not be the best for those with jaw problems. There’s also zero sugar — none added and none naturally included — but there is one gram of xylitol, a natural sweetener derived from plants. Xylitol is toxic to dogs, so keep these gummies in a cabinet away from Fido to prevent possible disasters.
Nordic Naturals tests all of their products using an independent third party for potency, purity, and freshness and provides Certificates of Analysis for every batch on their website. However, they can be a little difficult to find nested in the site’s FAQ.
You can purchase these vitamin D3 gummies once or join the Subscribe & Save program, which sends you one new bottle every 30, 60, or 90 days. You can skip, modify, or cancel your subscription at any time without hassle, too. Joining the subscription program saves 10% off every order, making your prices for one bottle:
- Once: $16.75
- Subscribe & Save: $15.08
All orders from Nordic Naturals’ website come with free shipping and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you decide you aren’t ready to try (or aren’t interested in) these vitamin D3 gummies, you can return an unopened bottle within 30 days of purchase. However, Nordic Naturals doesn’t accept returns from outside the contiguous United States.
Insider Tip: When you request a refund, Nordic Naturals will give you a return authorization number. Be sure to write that number on the outside of the box you’re sending back, or they may not accept it.
- Contains vitamins D3 and K2 for maximum effectiveness
- Liposomal form improves bioavailability
- Vegan formula
- Rigorous, high-quality third-party testing procedures
- Certificate of Analysis posted on product webpage
- Made in a GMP-certified facility
- Save 5% on a monthly subscription
- Free shipping to the U.S. on orders over $50
- Contains 60 servings but is most potent within 30 days
- Must be used within 90 days of opening
- Needs to be refrigerated
- Not appropriate for those taking anticoagulant medications
Liposomal supplements are relatively new to the market but make a big difference in our health. Liposomes, or small carrier spheres made of natural fats like cholesterols and phospholipids, help to move nutrients into the body. Because our bodies use phospholipids and cholesterols in every cell, they’re familiar with the substance and break it down more readily than something like olive or MCT oil. This means you’re more likely to get more nutrients faster. Renue By Science has several excellent liposomal vitamins, and their Liposomal Vitamin D3 & K2 is no exception.
Each Liposomal Vitamin D3 & K2 bottle contains 4fl oz of a gel-like substance that you take sublingually. One serving (2mL or about one-half teaspoon) contains 2,500IU of vitamin D3 and 200mcg of vitamin K2. Like all of Renue By Science’s liposomal supplements, Vitamin D3 & K2 uses sunflower lecithin to create liposomes.
The biggest problem with this supplement is that it goes bad quickly. It begins to lose potency after 30 days and has a shelf life of only 90 days after opening. To keep it stable for the longest period, be sure to store it in the refrigerator. Considering there are 60 servings in every bottle, you’ll need to take it consistently to ensure you’re getting the best, but know that the second half of the bottle may not be as strong as the first.
Because the supplement also contains vitamin K2, it’s not an appropriate choice for those taking anticoagulant medications like warfarin.
Renue By Science is exceptionally transparent in their testing process, uploading the Certificate of Analysis for the most recent batch of all supplements on their respective web pages for you to view. Liposomal Vitamin D3 & K2’s sheet includes potency and purity testing for heavy metals and bacterial, fungus, or yeast infections. They test their products as ingredients, during production, and every three months after production. They send their supplements to an independent third party for both mid- and post-production testing. All Renue By Science products are manufactured in GMP-certified facilities, too.
Renue By Science offers their Liposomal Vitamin D3 & K2 as both a one-time purchase and a subscription, where you can save about 5%. This isn’t a lot in subscription savings, but it is still a discount. You’ll pay $22.95 for a one-time order and $21.80 on every subscription purchase, which ships monthly.
You can unlock free shipping by ordering $50 or more to an address in the United States. Renue By Science also has a hefty list of countries they ship to internationally with very few limits or exceptions.
|Free shipping?||Shipping fees|
|United States||Over $50||$4.95|
|United Kingdom||Over $100||$11|
|All other countries||Over $250||$29|
Renue By Science will also accept returns for a refund with a few stipulations. Your bottle of Liposomal Vitamin D3 & K2 needs to be sent back unopened and in its original packaging within 30 days of purchase. You won’t be refunded the cost of shipping, and you’ll need to pay for return shipping out of pocket.
- Vegetarian formula made from prebiotic plant fibers
- Extremely low price
- Based on strong research available on the company webpage
- Manufactured in the United States to DSHEA standards
- Prioritizes simplicity and transparency
- Tested three times, both in-house and by third parties
- 30-day refund window for your first delivery
- Free shipping on orders over $20
- Contains rice extract blend, maltodextrin, and acai powder
- Only available in 30-day supplies
Care/Of brings a vegetarian vitamin D3 option to the table with several unique properties. Rather than using lanolin, an oil found in sheep’s wool and the most common source of D3, these supplements use an unnamed vegan source. They also include 180mg of acacia, a prebiotic plant fiber known as gum arabic that has recently been shown to improve the bioavailability of vitamin D, alongside their 1,000IU of D3. This is supposed to help you absorb more of what’s present, but there’s minimal research on how prebiotics influence vitamin D. That said, the research that does exist is somewhat promising, suggesting that prebiotics could improve how much of the ingested vitamin D gets turned into its bioactive form.
These vitamin D3 supplements also contain other ingredients:
- Maltodextrin, a starchy powder used to improve shelf life
- Organic rice blend, including rice extract, rice hulls, acacia, and sunflower oil
- Organic acai powder for color
- Mixed tocopherols to preserve freshness
It isn’t a long list, but there are extra ingredients that may not serve a significant role in this vitamin D supplement. Likewise, it’s also a powder in a capsule, which isn’t the most effective way to take this fat-soluble vitamin. Each order gives you 30 capsules or one month’s worth of vitamin D.
Care/Of does their best to keep transparency and scientific literacy in mind for all their supplements. They include links so you can read research about vitamin D’s role in bone health and immune support and its origins in sunlight. They also provide precise information about their vitamin D supplement’s manufacturing in the United States, which meets the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) standards for quality and safety. These requirements aren’t as stringent as GMP standards, but it proves they’re compliant with federal regulations, which is still essential. Care/Of uses in-house and third-party testing to check their products three times throughout the manufacturing process.
A 30-pack of vitamin D supplements (a 30-day supply) costs $7 from Care/Of. You can order it on its own or alongside other supplements, but no matter how you order, you can only get 30 days’ worth at a time. Care/Of only offers their products as subscriptions. If you want to try it for one month, they recommend pausing your subscription as soon as you receive your first order. That way, you don’t have to worry about canceling anything and won’t get an unexpected package on your doorstep in a few weeks.
Much like Persona, our other inexpensive top pick, Care/Of’s vitamin D supplement charges a hefty amount ($8) for shipping if you don’t quite make their free shipping minimum. Luckily, however, it only takes $20 per order to get free shipping.
If you aren’t completely satisfied in your first month of trying these supplements, you can get a full refund (no return required). Just contact customer service to get started. Note, however, that you can only request a refund on your first order.
If you know you need more vitamin D but aren’t quite ready to try supplements, there are a few other options that can help you.
If you can go outside more often, try taking advantage of the sun’s natural powers. Even just a few minutes of direct sunshine can help your body amp up vitamin D production. (Of course, a lack of sun during the winter, at higher latitudes, or other things outside your control often make this an impractical solution.)
Change your diet
Including foods that naturally contain vitamin D — like fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks, and beef liver — in your meals can improve your levels. Other foods, like milk and cereals, are sometimes fortified with vitamin D, which adds a little bit after production to help you meet your needs.
Some suggestions, like the ones below, may work for some people but aren’t effective for everyone. You should take these options with a grain of salt because of their significant drawbacks.
For your body to make vitamin D, UVB rays need to hit your skin. This is why sitting by a window or in the shade doesn’t count. However, some lamps emit a narrow range of UVB rays to protect your skin while helping you make some vitamin D at home. However, most light boxes and SAD lamps don’t emit any UV rays to minimize the risk of skin cancer, so you’ll need to look a little harder to find the right one. Since these lamps are the equivalent of a small tanning bed, they aren’t a great option for many. Be mindful of your time in front of it to minimize your chances of developing skin cancer.
Cod liver oil
Some may suggest cod liver oil as an appropriate substitute for a vitamin D supplement. However, we hesitate to recommend it since cod liver oil also has high levels of vitamin A in the form of retinol. Too much retinol can be toxic, increasing the pressure in your skull and dramatically affecting how much vitamin D your body ultimately absorbs. If you want to add something to your routine to increase your vitamin D levels, we recommend taking a pure vitamin D supplement or multivitamin high in vitamin D.
How do I know if I need to take a vitamin D supplement?
The symptoms of low vitamin D levels are extremely common. You could likely benefit from a vitamin D supplement if you don’t regularly spend time outside and experience chronic fatigue, a depressed mood, bone and muscle aches or pain, trouble sleeping, or problems with your appetite.
However, the only way to truly know is to have your serum vitamin D levels (how much vitamin D is present in your blood) tested. There are at-home tests from brands like Everlywell and LetsGetChecked that look at vitamin D on its own or in combination with other vitamins, or you can ask your doctor about getting it checked. Both will get you accurate results within a few days.
Is vitamin D safe for infants and children?
Yes, vitamin D supplements are generally safe for infants and children. Every human needs vitamin D from birth, so if you and your family live in a place where sunlight is sparse, or you don’t have a lot of time to take the kids to the park, a vitamin D supplement can help ensure they grow properly. However, you should be aware of different dosage requirements and any additional ingredients a supplement contains, as not every addition will be appropriate for your child. Many companies make vitamin D supplements specifically for children, so while we didn’t discuss those in this guide, there are some excellent options out there.
What causes low vitamin D?
The primary reason most people are low in vitamin D is a lack of sunlight. Not getting enough direct sunlight — not through a window or in the shade — keeps the cholesterol in your skin cells from synthesizing vitamin D. While you can get vitamin D from fortified foods like orange juice and milk, it’s often not enough to make up the difference.
Are there foods that can help you absorb vitamin D?
Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, taking your supplement alongside fatty foods can improve its absorption. A 2015 study found that a meal with 30% of calories as healthy fats significantly improved how much vitamin D circulated in the participants’ bloodstreams 12 hours later. You’ll be best off when you pair your supplement with foods such as:
- Nuts and nut butter
- Dark chocolate
- Whole eggs
- Extra virgin olive oil
Should I take vitamin D in the morning or at night?
You should plan to take supplements when you know you’ll reliably remember them. It doesn’t make a huge difference whether you take a vitamin D supplement first thing in the morning or with your evening meal. However, we recommend taking it earlier in the day with breakfast, as there’s a slightly better chance you’ll get everything out of your supplement. Digestive systems slow overnight while you sleep, lowering the absorption rate of things still in your GI tract. And since it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, taking vitamin D alongside a meal (particularly one with fatty foods like nut butter, egg yolk, or avocado) ensures your body can take it in entirely.
What’s the difference between vitamin D and D3?
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is a kind of vitamin D. All vitamin D3 supplements are vitamin D, but not every vitamin D supplement uses D3. Some use D2 (ergocalciferol), but most supplements use D3, as it’s less expensive than D2, and studies have shown it’s more effective with fewer potential side effects.
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