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Vitamin D improves bone health, increases muscle function and is essential in calcium absorption. Your body's main source of vitamin D is the sun — your skin synthesizes a form of the vitamin after exposure to sunlight. Some people don't make enough vitamin D naturally, which is where vitamin D supplements become necessary. Not all vitamin D supplements are created equally; multiple forms of the vitamin are available in various preparations. The best vitamin D pill is the one that meets your dietary needs.
Vitamin D capsules are available in two forms: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is the same as the form derived from natural sources of vitamin D. The supplement is typically made from lanolin, a greasy substance found in sheep's wool, or from fish oil. Vegetarians or those with strict religious or ethical dietary regulations or allergies, may wish to avoid this type of vitamin D pills.
Vitamin D2 is derived from plants and fungi. Non-animal sources of vitamin D are processed with ultraviolet light to turn cholesterol derivatives into the vitamin. Vitamin D2 supplements provide less of the available vitamin to the body – you may need to take more vitamin D2 to get the same effect as a vitamin D3 pill.
Vitamin D supplements are available as capsules, tablets, softgels and liquids. Tablets are powdered, condensed pills. Capsules are moderately soft formulations of powdered vitamin D encased in a gelatinous coating. Vitamin D softgels are less firm than capsules but still utilize a gelatinous coating. Vitamin D liquid is also available.
Not every individual needs a vitamin D supplement. It is possible to get too much vitamin D. Since vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, too much vitamin D can lead to a build up of calcium deposits within the body or cause kidney problems or decreased muscle tone. If you already get an adequate amount of daily vitamin D, consider a decreased dose formulation.
Individuals with dietary restrictions may wish to avoid capsules and softgels, or seek a vegetarian alternative that doesn't utilize real gelatin, but rather a cellulose coating. Not every vitamin D pill is right for every person. If you have questions or concerns about the right form and formulation of vitamin D pills for you, consult your doctor or a pharmacist. You may need to undergo testing to determine how deficient you are in vitamin D. Nutritionists are also able to help determine the right vitamin D supplements for you.