Vitamin D is vital for strong, healthy lives. Whether you’re a youngster just learning how to walk, a bodybuilder in his prime, or a retiree who likes to spend his days playing chess in the park, ensuring that you consume enough Vitamin D each day will help ensure you can keep doing what you love.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin  that, while required by the body for optimal health, is very difficult to get from diet alone. Supplementation, either in the form of fortified foods or the use of oral supplements, is commonly used to achieve sufficient levels of Vitamin D consumption.
It is a nutrient necessary for keeping the body’s blood levels of calcium and phosphorus steady. It also offers a variety of benefits, including increasing calcium absorption, decreasing fracture risk, and helping with diseases like osteoporosis or high blood pressure.
Although the body naturally produces vitamin D through the skin when exposed to sunlight, vitamin D deficiencies are quite common. Many medical professionals, including the Cleveland Clinic, recommend supplementation with vitamin D if your body’s vitamin D levels are deficient, for pregnant or breastfeeding women, for postmenopausal women, and for those with kidney or thyroid disease.
There have also been reports from regular users indicating that they experienced improvements in mood and energy levels while supplementing with D3.
Regardless of how you choose to consume your Vitamin D, it must also go through several stages of change within your body before it can be used effectively.
What Is Its Biological Role?
Vitamin D is a sort of side-kick in the vitamin world. Its purpose is to help your body properly absorb calcium. It also helps regulate calcium levels in the body once absorbed so that you have neither too little nor too much calcium.
Calcium is needed for the mending, growing, and maintaining of bones. It is, essentially, what makes them so strong. Without Vitamin D, your body would not be able to properly absorb calcium and use it to help keep you strong.
What Foods Contain Vitamin D?
Vitamin D can be absorbed through skin during exposure to sunlight. Other than sunlight, the only other significant dietary sources are milk or other products that have been specifically fortified with Vitamin D, and oily fish such as swordfish, cod, or salmon.
How Does It Help Bodybuilders and People Who Work Out?
It is especially important for anyone who spends a lot of time working out to ensure that they consume enough Vitamin D.
Any fitness regime is going to put some amount of stress on your bones and muscles–this is doubly true for weightlifters and bodybuilders. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, because sufficient amounts of Vitamin D help your body properly utilize calcium to keep your bones strong and prevent injury.
With insufficient Vitamin D consumption, you greatly increase your risk of injury as a result of your fitness regime; without enough Vitamin D you lose calcium, and without enough calcium you end up with brittle bones that may break under the excess stresses of weight lifting or similar activities.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
The recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D  is the same for all adults regardless of gender, or whether a new mother is pregnant or breastfeeding: 600 IU per day. For adults over 71 years of age, this recommended allowance is increased to 800 IU per day.
While it is not officially recommended for mothers to consume more Vitamin D when breastfeeding, increasing consumption may make the mother’s milk more rich in Vitamin D which can positively impact the child by helping to ensure proper bone formation as it grows.
Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Much Of It?
While unlikely due to its rarity from food sources, Vitamin D toxicity is possible when one consumes extreme doses of Vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D toxicity can result in hypercalcemia, which is an overabundance of calcium in the body that may start to negatively impact organs and veins.
It is worth noting that spending extended periods of time outside will not lead to Vitamin D toxicity, as the process that stimulates Vitamin D synthesis in reaction to sunlight is self-limiting. This means that after a certain threshold of production is reached, the sun starts to also break down the synthesized Vitamin D in a process called photo-degradation. This prevents your skin from producing harmful amount of Vitamin D while expose to direct sunlight.
Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Little Of It?
Without enough Vitamin D, your body cannot properly absorb and utilize calcium, which can results in rickets or osteomalacia in older adults. Rickets commonly affects children, and is a condition characterized by overly-soft bones as a result of Vitamin D deficiency which commonly results in skeletal deformities.
If rickets is caught soon enough, it is sometimes possible to reverse the effects with a therapeutically high dose of Vitamin D which can re-mineralize the bones since children are going through periods of near-constant growth for the first part of their life.
Taking Vitamin D
Vitamin D supplementation is a simple process. Most supplement brands recommend taking one supplement daily by mouth with a meal, although many supplement users report they do not experience stomach discomfort when taken without food.
Check the supplement you choose for their recommended serving size and dosing instructions. Be careful to follow the label directions exactly to prevent unnecessary risk. Vitamin D has some known medication interactions.
Certain medications can interfere with vitamin D absorption, including steroids, weight loss drugs, seizure medications, and some cholesterol-lowering drugs. Be careful if taking a vitamin D supplement if taking statin drugs or thiazide diuretics as these increase vitamin D levels.
Always speak with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Things to Look for in a Good Vitamin D Supplement
If you are looking to take a vitamin D supplement, it is important to choose a quality version that will meet your needs and allow you to reap the benefits of improved vitamin D levels. You should ensure the version you select meets your requirements. A good vitamin D supplement should also meet these minimum guidelines:
- Be produced by a proven supplement brand – It is important to choose a supplement brand that has been proven to be safe and effective. Look for a brand that uses third-party, independent testing and uses quality ingredients.
- Use the cholecalciferol D3 form of vitamin D – The D3 version has been shown to be closer to what your body produces naturally. D3 has been shown to be less toxic and better absorbed by the body. It outperforms D2 in most areas, and reliable sources like Medscape recommend health professionals encourage the use of the cholecalciferol form.
1. Carlson Labs Vitamin D3
Carlson Labs Vitamin D3 comes in a variety of doses and contains the preferred Lanolin-based version of D3 – cholecalciferol. The highest does version contains 4000 IU of D3 in suspension with sunflower oil. Carlson Labs is a well-known vitamin and supplement company with high ratings for their quality and potency, particularly when it comes to their Vitamin D3 supplements.
- 4000 IU of Vitamin D3
2. NOW Foods Vitamin D3
NOW Foods Vitamin D3 comes in a variety of doses, all with the cholecalciferol from of D3 from lanolin and a suspension of extra virgin olive oil. They have a 5000 IU version that comes in a small gelatin softgel. NOW Foods is a vitamin and mineral supplement company that has been family-owned since 1968 and focuses on quality, natural products and increasing consumer knowledge.
- 5000 IU Vitamin D
3. Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3
The Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 supplement comes in a 1000 IU dose of D3 as cholecalciferol. The soft gel suspension includes extra virgin olive oil with oleic acid as omega-9. The soft gels feature a natural orange flavor and use only natural rosemary extract as a preservative. Nordic Naturals is a supplement company founded in Norway that participates in peer-reviewed studies and strives to improve supplement formula concentrations and delivery.
- 1000 IU Vitamin D3
4. Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3
Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3 promotes healthy density of bones and their structure. Vitamin D is not only a crucial vitamin, it also assists in absorption of other minerals such as calcium.
- Available in 1000IU, 2000IU and 5000IU strengths
- Non-GMO and Gluten Free
5. Nutrigold Vitamin D3 Gold 2000 IU
The NutriGold Vitamin D3 Gold 2000 IU supplement contains 500% of the daily value of D3 for a 2000 calorie diet in each easy-to-swallow softgel. The Gold 2000 soft gels contain D3 derived from lanolin in a kosher-certified softgel. NutriGold is a supplement company committed to formulas without GMOs, fillers. All their products are independently tested by a third party for quality and potency.
- 2000 IU Vitamin D
- 550% daily value of D3 per 2000 calories
6. Nature Made Vitamin D3
Nature Made Vitamin D3 2000 IU soft gels serve up a daily value of 500% for a 2000 calorie diet. Their cholecalciferol formula comes in a soybean oil suspension. Nature Made also offers a wide variety of other D3 supplements including tablets, soft gels, and gummies in doses ranging from 400 IU to 10,000 IU. Nature Made is a well-known brand in the supplement industry with a more than 40-year history of quality and accountability.
- 2000 IU Vitamin D
7. Solgar Vitamin D3
Like many of the other brands, Solgar Vitamin D3 comes in a variety of forms and doses. Their 2200 IU vegetable capsules contain 550% of the 2000 calorie diet daily value. Their vegetarian-friendly formula includes a vegetable capsule and the cholecalciferol form of D3 derived from lanolin. This means that the capsules are not vegan as lanolin is an animal byproduct. Solgar has been a nutritional supplement brand since 1947 with a mission to provide top-quality supplements.
- 2200 IU Vitamin D3
- Veggie Capsules
8. Do Vitamins Daily D
Do Vitamins DailyD supplement uses the cholecalciferol form of Vitamin D, but rather than the lanolin-based formula found in most supplements, DailyD contains the only vegan formula. Each capsule contains 2500 IU of D3 as VitaShine a vegan plant-derived version of cholecalciferol made from lichen. Each bottle contains 365 capsules for a convenient one year supply. Do Vitamins is a boutique supplement brand with a focus on clean supplements with no GMO, harmful chemicals, or common supplement additives.
- 2500 IU of Vitamin D3
9. Nature’s Way Vitamin D3
Nature’s Way Vitamin D3 supplement in the 2000 IU size delivers the cholecalciferol form of D3 in a soft gel with a safflower oil suspension. The pure formula contains no artificial ingredients, preservatives, dairy, gluten, soy, sugar, wheat, yeast, or sodium. Nature’s Way is the supplement division of the Schwabe Group, and they operate with a high focus on quality, purity, and potency.
- 2000 IU Vitamin D3
10. GNC Vitamin D3
The GNC Vitamin D3 supplement comes in a variety of doses and is available in tablets or soft gels. Their 2000 IU soft gel uses a soybean oil suspension and provides the cholecalciferol form of D3 for easy absorption. The GNC brand is distributed by the General Nutrition Corporation, a health and wellness company dedicated to providing consumers with quality supplements.
- 2000 IU Vitamin D
- Take 1 Tablet Daily
In modern times rickets is thankfully becoming increasingly rare, as is other conditions results from improper level of Vitamin D in the body. Still, it is important–especially as you age–to ensure you’re eating foods that contain Vitamin D when you can, and spending at least a bit of time outside without sunscreen so your body can do the rest.
That will allow you to live a long, full life without having to worry so much about whether your legs will always take you where you want to go.
 Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institute of Health. Vitamin D-Health Professional Fact Sheet. US Department of Health and Human Services, 2016.
 WebMD. Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, and Health Risks. Webmd.com 2015.
 DeNoon, Daniel. Vitamin D FAQ: Vitamin D Recommendations, Deficiency, and More. Webmd.com, 2016.