Vitamin D plays a critical role in facilitating hormone function and helping the body absorb calcium. Without enough vitamin D the integrity of our skeletal system suffers and we may also run an elevated risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks.
Seafood, egg yolks and mushrooms are some easily accessible sources of vitamin D. But a large percentage of the population still doesn’t get enough. That’s where vitamin D supplements come in. Below are the 10 best.
1. Bronson Vitamin D3
Bronson Vitamin D3 is a pharmaceutical grade supplement that provides a pure, wholly natural form of vitamin D that is identical to that produced by the body. Bronson Vitamin D3 is 100% gluten, soy and wheat free and formulated from products that are all certified by the USDA as organic. Bronson are known for the lengths they go to in order to provide top quality supplements and their Vitamin D3 was an easy choice for this list.
2. Solgar Vitamin D3 Softgels
Whenever there is a discussion about high-quality supplements Solgar is going to be in the conversation. Their Vitamin D3 Softgels are easy to swallow and absorb quickly and effectively. At 10,000 iu these are ideal for those suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency – such as those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery – since their potency is unmatched.
3. Carlson Labs D3
Carlson Labs D3 is another ultra-potent 10,000 iu vitamin D3 supplement that will help those suffering from vitamin D deficiency turn the corner to better health. The contents of these capsules have been verified by independent 3rd party labs to be within 2% of their stated amount. For stronger bones and a more robust immune system Carlson Labs Vitamin D3 is sometimes equalled but never surpassed.
4. Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3
Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 provide 5,000 iu of vitamin D3 to aid in the maintenance of healthy bones, to reduce the risk of certain types of heart disease and to facilitate hormone function. Vitamin D3 – or cholecalciferol – is the best type of vitamin D a person can consume because it most closely mimics the vitamin D produced by our bodies. The softgel capsules here suspend the D3 in olive oil which further aids in its timely absorption.
5. Nutrigold Vitamin D3
Like all the best vitamin D supplements Nutrigold utilizes D3 which is the type that most closely mimics that produced by our bodies and is the most easily absorbed as well. Their 1,100 iu Vitamin D3 capsules are intended for those who need a boost for their vitamin D levels but who may not be technically vitamin D deficient. Nutrigold Vitamin D3 capsules are also 100% free of soy, wheat, dairy and fish products.
6. Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3
Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3 provides 5,000 iu of high quality cholecalciferol (D3) for those who may suffer or be on the verge of suffering a vitamin D deficiency. All Doctor’s Best supplements are known for their purity and potency and their D3 is no exception. If you believe you may not need this much D3 at any one time the company also makes 2,000 and 1,000 iu variants. This is a low-cost, high-quality supplement that will not disappoint.
7. Nature Made Vitamin D3
As we age the ability of our bodies to produce enough vitamin D begins to diminish. We’re left with the option of either eating ever greater amounts of vitamin D-rich foods or simply taking a daily D3 supplement to keep ourselves on the straight and narrow. Nature Made Vitamin D3 in the 1,000 iu size is the perfect way to get the vitamin D you need so your bones, teeth, immune system and heart don’t suffer from vitamin D deprivation.
8. NatureWise Vitamin D3
NatureWise Vitamin D3 is another potent and reliable vitamin D supplement from a trusted manufacturer. In the 5,000 iu volume provided here it becomes the perfect supplement for those suffering vitamin D deficiency due to insufficient exposure to the sun, kidney dysfunction or because their digestive tract is simply unable to absorb adequate amounts, perhaps because of gastric bypass or similar surgery.
9. NOW Foods Vitamin D3
If you know supplements you know NOW Foods produces some of the best affordable supplements on the market today. Their 5,000 iu Vitamin D3 supplement is extremely pure and easily absorbed by the body. Great for people whose vitamin D levels are not what they should be. And with more and more people wearing heavy sunscreens and eating fast food today that’s a lot of people.
10. GNC Vitamin D3
GNC hits it out of the park yet again with their cholecalciferol D3 supplement. The company is known for being pioneers in the dietary supplement business and always use the highest quality ingredients and best practices in the production of their products. While this supplement is in capsule form the purity and potency of the D3 contained within means it is easily absorbed by the body and will provide optimal benefits.
Who Benefits from Taking Vitamin D?
While not everyone needs to take supplemental vitamin D there are quite a few who should consult their doctor about whether it might be right for them. Those folks include:
- Senior citizens – We mentioned earlier that as people age their bodies begin to produce less and less vitamin D. Some of that is due to the fact that older people tend not to eat as much, which means they’re not eating as many vitamin D-rich foods as they use to. And some of it has to do with the fact that seniors tend to spend less time outdoors and so are exposed to far less sunlight than they got when they were younger. If you have a parent or older relative who spends most of their time indoors you may want to look into whether they could use a vitamin D supplement.
- Those with osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is a debilitating skeletal condition caused by a lack of calcium. Since calcium absorption is facilitated by vitamin D those with osteoporosis would do well to take both vitamin D and calcium supplements to help treat the condition. Contrary to popular belief osteoporosis is not just a condition that afflicts older people. Heavy drinkers, women of all ages and anyone suffering a vitamin D deficiency for any reason are also at risk of developing the condition.
- Those who have had stomach surgery – One of the most popular ways for obese individuals to get effective treatment for their condition is gastric bypass surgery or one of a handful of other, similar procedures. These types of surgery remove part of the stomach and/or intestine in order to restrict the amount of food the person can eat, which in turn often results in dramatic weight loss. The problem is however that a smaller stomach and shorter intestinal tract do not do as good a job absorbing nutrients as they use to. So people who have had these types of stomach surgery often wind up vitamin D deficient (1).
- Those who suffer from high blood pressure – High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it often produces no discernable symptoms. However, inside the veins and arteries of people with this condition the pressure that’s brought to bear on the artery walls slowly, inexorably eats away at their integrity, with heart attack and stroke being 2 common outcomes. Vitamin D has been shown (2) to be beneficial in reducing blood pressure.
- Athletes – In 1985 a vitamin D receptor was discovered in muscle tissue (3). This discovery led many to conclude that there may have been something to the claims made by coaches that having their athletes practice in sunlight increased their performance levels. It’s now thought that this VDR receptor plays an important role in muscle growth and health. As such, many athletes today make a point to take supplemental vitamin D.
Are There Side Effects to Taking Vitamin D?
It is possible, though not likely, that vitamin D may create negative interactions with certain medications including:
- Prednisone and other corticosteroids
- Certain diabetes medicines
- Dilantin and other seizure medications
- Some blood pressure medications
Again, the odds of vitamin D supplements actually causing a negative reaction are miniscule. Still, if you are concerned you should ask your doctor about the wisdom of taking supplemental vitamin D if you are also currently taking any of the above.
Are There Other Ways Vitamin D Can Help You?
We have touched on some of the generally accepted benefits of vitamin D above but there are other potential benefits that are just beginning to come to light. These include:
- It may help lower the risk of colon cancer – There is more than a little clinical evidence that vitamin D may play an important role in lowering the risk of colon cancer (4). This is not some specious claim by the lunatic health fringe but a truth that has slowly been emerging through a wealth of clinical data.
- It may help prevent MS – Multiple Sclerosis is known to be more prevalent in the northern latitudes, where people don’t get as much sunlight, than it is elsewhere. A fact that has caused many to conclude there must be a link between vitamin D levels and the development of MS. The jury is still out however.
- It may play a role in preventing diabetes (5) – While the evidence is largely circumstantial it is known that children in Finland have a 400% greater chance of developing type 1 diabetes than children in places like Venezuela where the sun beats down every day.
Can Vitamin D be Toxic?
The short answer is: It is possible to generate a negative reaction with just about anything if you ingest enough of it. That includes vitamin D (6). But unless an otherwise healthy person is going to ingest something like 50,000 iu per day for an extended period of time they are not likely to experience vitamin D toxicity.
What is Vitamin D Stacking?
Stacking is a term that originated with bodybuilders looking for ways to get even more outrageous muscle building results from the anabolic steroids they were taking. In regards to vitamin D it refers to the theory that by combining D with certain minerals you can enhance the effectiveness of each.(7) Essentially the whole stack yields a greater result than the vitamins and minerals would otherwise do if taken separately. Stackers often combine vitamin D with:
- Calcium – For many years medical science has understood the important relationship between vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium (8) more effectively and this in turn can help prevent osteoporosis and other bone related conditions.
- Magnesium – Magnesium and vitamin D are thought to be complementary with magnesium playing a role in metabolizing vitamin D and vitamin D helping to maintain healthy magnesium levels in the body. As such the two are often combined by stackers in an attempt to ramp up the benefits of both.
- Fish oil – Fish oil is often stacked with vitamin D because it is believed the two enable each other. Fish oil is believed to be able to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, a claim also made with regards to vitamin D. Fish oil is also believed to provide fatty acids that aid in the body’s absorption of vitamin D (9).
The Bottom Line
Vitamin D deficiency can have profound effects on a person’s bones, teeth, muscles, immune system and more. It is a leading contributor to osteoporosis and a common affliction of those who undergo various types of weight loss surgery.
In addition, recent studies are beginning to point to vitamin D as perhaps having a role in preventing a range of conditions from Type 1 diabetes to MS and even rheumatoid arthritis. If you are in one of the at-risk groups profiled above or just feel that you are perhaps not getting enough vitamin D in your regular diet talk to your doctor about whether vitamin D supplementation is right for you.