BEST VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS UK 2020 BUYER’S GUIDE
If you live above 40 degrees latitude, which includes most of Europe, you will not get enough vitamin D all year round. Ensure you get sufficient vitamin D from spring to early autumn by eating fish three times a week and six eggs a week. Also, expose your arms and face for at least 30 minutes a day and take a vitamin D supplement that provides 15mcg of vitamin D. During the winter, however, this may not be enough. If you feel low in the winter months, supplement an extra 25mcg (or 1,000iu) vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) – the kind found in fish. If you are vegetarian, take vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), although the D3 is best.
After the Second World War, when rickets caused by vitamin D deficiency was a major health issue in the UK, all children in Britain were given cod liver oil, providing not only vitamin D but also essential omega-3 fats and vitamin A. After supplementation was ceased, and combined with the decline in eating fatty fish, vitamin D levels of people in the UK decreased and have done so ever since, with most people eating fewer than one serving of oily a week. The average woman in Britain achieves the only 2.7mcg, while the average man achieves 3.1mcg, compared to the hopelessly low RDA of 5mcg.
Many experts believe that we need as much as 30mcg a day in total. Given that sunlight makes vitamin D, and a lack of sunlight is linked to feeling low and cause other health problem. That is why getting enough vitamin D is important for optimal health. You can achieve this by taking the best quality vitamin D supplements and we will help you with that.
Our Top Picks
Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol)
- Nutravita: 4000 IU, 400 soft gel capsules and 13 months supply.
- Nu U Nutrition: 4000 IU, 365 soft get capsules for full-year supply.
- Vita Premium: 4000 IU, 365 soft get capsules for 12 months.
- Incite Nutrition: 4000 IU, 400 easy to swallow tiny tablets and 12+ months, suitable for vegetarians
- WeightWorld: 4000 IU, 365 easy to swallow tablets and for 12 months, suitable for vegetarians.
Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol)
- SimplySupplements: 2000 IU, 360 tablets up to 12 months.
- Urban Fuel: 1000 IU, 90 tablets for 3 months supply.
- HealthAid: 500 IU, 1-2 tablets a day, 60 tablets for 3 months
Table of Contents
- BEST VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS UK 2020 BUYER’S GUIDE
- Our Top Picks
- What could Happen Because of Vitamin D Deficiency
- Which Type of Vitamin D is Best for you? Your Buying Guide
- Best Vitamin D Supplements UK 2020 Quality Ranking
- Recommended Vitamin D2 Supplement
- What is Your Vitamin D Levels?
- What is Your Ideal Level of Vitamin D
- How to Reduce the Toxic Effects of Vitamin D
- Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D2 (Video)
What could Happen Because of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is a hot topic right now and you might be wondering what’s all the hype about. It is actually not a vitamin it’s actually a hormone that your skin makes when it’s exposed to sunlight. According to national surveys in the UK, across the population, approximately 1 in 5 people are low in vitamin D. So why is this important, why do we even care if your vitamin D is low and why do we need to buy the best quality vitamin D tablets? Because there are severe and serious life-threatening deadly consequences of low vitamin D and your doctor is not talking to you about it.
Number one fractures. People who have low vitamin D are not able to absorb calcium from their intestines and build up strong healthy bone, so they’re more prone to falls and fractures. I want to imagine this picture. It’s oversimplifying a very complex process but it applies nonetheless. Calcium can be viewed as bricks and vitamin D can be viewed as construction.
So if you have bricks at the building site but you don’t have the construction workers to build a house, is the house gonna get built? No. It doesn’t matter how much calcium you have, if you don’t have the vitamin D to bring the bricks to the site and build a house, your bones will not be healthy. Vitamin D is that key ingredient that helps calcium get into your bones and make your bones strong.
The other thing that vitamin D is crucially important for is pregnant women. Did you know that women with low vitamin D are more prone to have premature babies? Do you know that women with low vitamin D have babies that have low birth weight? Did you know that if vitamin D level is low you have an increased risk of getting a cesarean section rather than giving birth to your baby naturally?
Number two is hypertension. Did you know that exposure to sunlight lowers your blood pressure? If it’s extremely high it can lower your blood pressure by as much as 40 points and we all know that hypertension is one of those things that lead to other serious consequences like heart attacks and kidney failure. So go out and get your sunlight.
As mentioned increased vitamin D actually helps improve your heart health. It makes your heart beat stronger and it decreases inflammation in your body. It is also claimed that boosting vitamin D intake could help to slow down the deterioration of eyesight and blindness in older people.
The other thing vitamin D is good for is, it lowers your blood sugar. Vitamin D which your skin makes from the sun lowers your blood sugar. So what should you do if I’m diabetic? Go out into the sunlight every day and your vitamin D levels will rise and your blood sugar will come under control if you do the other things that help diabetes such as eating a healthy diet and exercising.
The other thing that vitamin D is very important is for improving the health of your gums. People with low vitamin D levels are prone to what’s called periodontal disease which means their gums will bleed, their teeth are not healthy and their teeth are weak. If you want your teeth to be healthy and your gums especially to be healthy you will go out into the Sun and get some sunlight.
Vitamin D can decrease the rates of infection. The first thing that was discovered by vitamin D back in the late 1800s was vitamin D is antibacterial specifically, sunlight is antibacterial. So vitamin D also decreases your risk of getting certain cancers. If you have the appropriate amount of vitamin D in your bloodstream, you have lower rates of prostate cancer, colon cancer, other digestive tract cancers and lower rates of breast cancer. Vitamin D has a very strong association with low rates of cancer.
There’s another very important consequence of low vitamin D. It is associated with autoimmune disorders. Those are disorders where your body kind of attacks itself. One of these autoimmune disorders is a disease called multiple sclerosis which can have a lot of devastating consequences to the person who gets this disease. People who are born in a country where there is plenty of sunlight have much lower rates of multiple sclerosis.
Another consequence of vitamin D deficiency is increased rates of depression, anxiety and a condition called seasonal affective disorder which is depression when the days are short and the days are cold. You can cure this depression naturally just by getting sufficient sun exposure to get vitamin D.
Another condition called schizophrenia where there’s a break from reality. People do not think correctly and they hear voices, this condition often develops when people are young. People who have appropriate amounts of vitamin D and appropriate sun exposure have lower rates of schizophrenia.
So look at this, we just listed a host of disorders that can improve with vitamin D exposure.
But people in the United Kingdom should boost their vitamin D intake with supplements because of a lack of sunshine to provide it naturally, Our government health advisers have suggested. The UK weather prevents much of the population from receiving healthy amounts of the essential vitamin D from the sunlight, and natural food sources alone are not enough to boost.
So we highly recommend people in the UK to achieve the recommended amounts of vitamin D through supplementation.
Which Type of Vitamin D is Best for you? Your Buying Guide
The term vitamin D is kind of a misnomer because you will not find anything that is simply labelled vitamin D. Your choices will be either vitamin D2 or vitamin D3. When a supplement mentions vitamin D, the implied selection is vitamin D2. So the name can be confusing because many times, we go into the pharmacy to buy and we are surprised that there is a D2 and a D3.
Vitamin D2 comes from plant sources, such as wild mushrooms, as well as fortified foods, such as milk or cereal. Its strength is typically measured in international units, which is abbreviated as “IU” on labelling. The 50,000 IU capsules are prescription only, while lower strengths are available to buy online or over-the-counter.
Vitamin D3 mainly comes from animal sources such as fish oil, fatty fish, liver, and egg yolks. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, it produces vitamin D3. This is the reason it is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin. The strength of this is also measured in international units.
So here’s what you need to know about what exactly is the difference between vitamin D2 and vitamin D3, and is one better to take over the other?
What is Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol) Used for
We don’t make our own vitamin D2—unlike vitamin D3, which is active in the body. Vitamin D2 can only be found in supplements as well as certain plants that have been exposed to UVB rays, like mushrooms. When we consume it, the vitamin will be stored in dietary fats, absorbed in the small intestine, then it will be activated—first in the liver, followed by the kidneys. When activated, the body will deliver it to the target tissues. It will promote healthy immune function, support strong bones, and even support our reproductive function.
We should not overdose too much vitamin D2, the upper limit for adults is “4,000 IUs per day. Overdose can cause the body to absorb too much calcium, which will lead to calcification (calcium buildup) in the organs. Too much of this essential vitamin can also harden children’s bones prematurely.
What is Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) Used for
When we associate vitamin D with sunshine, we are actually referencing vitamin D3. When our skin is exposed to UVB rays, 7-dehydrocholesterol is converted to pre-vitamin D3 in our body, which eventually turns into vitamin D3. Because we get it from the sun and this is naturally occurring, we can’t overdose on vitamin D3. If we are absorbing too much, our body will adjust and produce less.
That being said, vitamin D3 can also be found in animal sources from protein like chicken, eggs, oily fish like salmon and sardines as well as from supplements. Vitamin D3 is more active in the body than vitamin D2 and is often converted to calciferol, the type of vitamin D that raises our blood levels.
So how much vitamin D3 is too much, unlike vitamin D2, higher doses of vitamin D3 will boost your immune system function, support bone health and support reproductive function. The maximum limit is 10,000 IU per day, even though the dosage is so high, side effects are rare but for some people, they can experience frequent urination, confusion, muscle weakness, bone pain, extreme thirst, weight loss or decreased appetite, constipation, nausea, vomiting and toxic levels in the blood.
Which One is Better to Take as a Supplement? D3 vs D2
The difference between ergocalciferol all vitamin D2 and cholecalciferol vitamin D3, both of these forms of the vitamin are found in supplements. The ergocalciferol, all vitamin D2 is the preferred form of the vitamin to be used in the medical industry and therefore if you take a prescription vitamin D supplement, you will be taking ergocalciferol. The type of vitamin D used in supplements varies. You need to check the labels.
We would recommend that if you are looking at a vitamin D supplement, take the cholecalciferol form of the vitamin that is the vitamin D3 form. Because it is more biologically active and therefore the recommendations to take vitamin D, you will not have to adjust them if you take the vitamin D3.
If you take vitamin D2 ergocalciferol and you follow the recommendations to take vitamin D, you will need to increase your dose. Because the amount of vitamin D2 you take will not raise your plasma levels of vitamin D to the same level as if you took vitamin D3 form.
Most vitamin D supplements contain vitamin D2 when we buy it from the pharmacy. But vitamin D3 tablets are considered better choice because they are generally of best quality and research suggests vitamin D3 supplements increase vitamin D2 status in the body. Vitamin D3 has been proven to be better absorbed and utilised by the body than vitamin D2. However, because most vitamin D3 supplements come from animal sources, and there is little research to support whether vitamin D3 from lichen (a plant-based alternative) is actually usable in the body, vegans and vegetarians might want to take a high-quality vitamin D2 supplement.
However, there are no specific health reasons someone would have to take D2 over D3. You can take them interchangeably, but always buy vitamin D supplement based on its quality and whether or not it is a reputable and trusted brand from the UK.
Best Vitamin D Supplements UK 2020 Quality Ranking
Recommended Vitamin D2 Supplement
What is Your Vitamin D Levels?
The question you need to ask is, are you low in vitamin D and, if so, what’s the best level to take in and how do you achieve this? Vitamin D is easily tested by measuring the level of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (abbreviated to 25(OH)D). There’s some debate about the exact level but, ideally, you are aiming for 125–200nmol/l (equivalent to 50–80ng/ml, which are the units of measurement used in the US).
This is consistent with the levels found in people who live in sunny climates and is consistent with the levels that correlate to the lowest risk of both depression and cancer (cancer incidence increases as you move away from the equator and is strongly linked to a lack of vitamin D).
Below this level, your body isn’t storing vitamin D, which means that you are using it up as fast as you are taking it in. Since vitamin D is potentially toxic at very high levels, you don’t want to have more. Your vitamin D status is easily tested by your doctor or nutritional therapist.
What is Your Ideal Level of Vitamin D
The next question is how much vitamin D do you need to take in to achieve your ideal level? This is harder to answer because, ideally, if you live in a sunny climate you’d make everything you need in your skin through sun exposure. It’s the UVB rays that make vitamin D, which are also the rays that burn the skin. But obviously you need to avoid burning your skin. There’s no advantage in that and you don’t make more vitamin D as a result. Also, you can never ‘overdose’ on sun-produced vitamin D. The body simply makes what it needs.
If you live above or below 40 degrees north or south, however – which means all of Europe bar the tip of Spain and Italy – you won’t get enough from sunlight all year round and will benefit from supplementation except during the summer months.
You need to supplement an absolute minimum of 12.5mcg (500iu) to guarantee a blood level of about 100nmol/l and probably more like 15mcg (600iu) to guarantee an ideal blood level above 125nmol/l. That assumes you are getting a certain amount from your diet, plus sun exposure. We probably need more like 30–50mcg a day from all sources.
If you eat fish three times every week (a serving of salmon or mackerel provides around 9mcg/350iu); eat six free-range eggs a week (two eggs provide 1mcg/40iu); expose your skin to the sun every day (you’ll make around 10mg/400iu if you have 20 minutes’ exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the summer), and supplement at least 15mcg/600iu daily to give you around 30mcg/1,200iu a day. During the winter (November to April in the UK)it’s probably worth supplementing an additional 25mcg/1,000iu and possibly more, especially if you are older or prone to seasonal low moods.
How to Reduce the Toxic Effects of Vitamin D
There are incredible benefits of taking higher levels of vitamin D. So how to get the benefits from taking more vitamin D without the toxic side effects? The first thing that you need to know is that the only toxic effect of taking high levels of vitamin D has to do with calcium, too much calcium in the blood. It doesn’t have to do with the D itself, it has to do with what the D is doing with calcium. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium into the blood by 20 times.
This is very rare for this to happen and you would have to have very high levels of vitamin D. If you have taken a smaller amount, it’s not gonna happen. The first symptom of the high level of vitamin D is hypercalcemia which is the term used for high calcium in the blood as well as constipation, kidney stones, frequent urination, dementia, depression, ulcers, abdominal pain and even arrhythmia.
One of the challenges with vitamin D in relationship to calcium is that it doesn’t tell the calcium where to go. So D is only about increasing the calcium in the blood and it stays there. So there is a simple solution. Take vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 triggers a protein that tells the calcium to go into the bone to come out of the soft tissues and into the bone.
Also, avoid dairy. If you avoid foods high in calcium like dairy then you’re going to get the benefit of the D3 without this calcium problem. Next, you can just take magnesium that will also help balance the calcium and drink more water to actually help prevent the kidney stones.
Read More: How Vitamin D Works in the Body