Recommended Vitamin D Supplements
There are numerous effects of increasing vitamin D daily intake, supplementation included. Vitamin D supplements are, for example, used to prevent osteomalacia or rickets, but the evidence for other benefits of vitamin D supplementation in the general population are inconsistent.
The best evidence of vitamin D supplementation benefits are for bone health (babies, children, adults, elderly people) and a decrease in mortality in elderly women (after menopause).
Vitamin D Supplementation Guidelines
Vitamin D supplements should, as all other supplements, be taken under supervision of your doctor or physician.
Amounts of vitamin D and its form vary from supplement to supplement, so be careful and read the labels.
Many people take vitamin D supplements during winter to prevent vitamin D deficiency - it these cases, vitamin D supplements with lower doses (up to a 1000 IU per pill or serving) are recommended.
To fight vitamin D deficiency that has already shown symptoms, supplements with doses up to 10.000 IU are used. More than that and vitamin D can be toxic in the long run.
Vitamin D in supplements is often found as vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol) or vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol). Vitamin D3 is found in animal sources of vitamin D (fish oil, fish meat and similar), while vitamin D2 comes from plant sources. Some studies show that both forms are equally effective, although this is still to be confirmed.
Both vitamins are also produced artificially.
Vitamin D Supplement For Infants
Vitamin D supplements for infants come in the form of droplets. These droplets are added to regular baby meals or are given with the spoon alone or with some liquid (water, milk, some sort of juice etc) to 'hide' vitamin D supplement.
For the amount of vitamin D in each droplet, read the labels and for the needed amount of vitamin D to be given to the babies one MUST consult baby's pediatrician. Usually, it is 400-600 IU daily, single daily dose, until the age of 12-18 months.
Many supplements for infants also have small doses of vitamin E to protect vitamin D in liquid.
Vitamin D Supplements For Children
Vitamin D supplements for children, adults and elderly can be found in liquid or tablet/pill form. Vitamin D supplements for infants can be used by rest of population, just be sure to take adequate amounts of vitamin D.
For children, there are also vitamin D supplements that come in chewable form, often combined with other vitamins and minerals - sometimes, these are better choice for children that could have problems with swallowing pills/tablets or consuming vitamin D in liquid form due to taste and smell.
Calcium And Vitamin D Supplements
Since vitamin D is so involved in calcium metabolism, vitamin D is often combined with calcium, thus providing valuable source of both vitamin D and calcium. Too much calcium is also not good, but these supplements rarely have more than 1000mg (1g) of calcium per serving. Calcium doses of 400-500mg are good for preventing calcium deficiency with no fear of overdosing, while doses with more than 1000mg should be used only for treating calcium deficiency. This of course depends on the gender, age and body mass of a person.
Best Vitamin D Supplement
When choosing proper vitamin D supplements - read labels. Good vitamin D supplement should have dosage according to your needs - what is good for you, don't have to be good for others. Also, be careful about expiration date, since expired vitamin D supplement can have lower amounts of vitamin D. Vegans should read about source of vitamin D in supplement - if vitamin D in supplement is derived from plants or if it is artificial, than it is good for them. It is believed that vitamin D supplements with vitamin D3 are more potent than vitamin D supplements with vitamin D2, but this is lately disputed.
Also, recommended doses of 400-600 IU per day are also disputed and some researches recommend doses of 2000 IU per day for both children and adults (elderly included) - personally, I would wait for more research on this topic before recommending such high doses for preventing vitamin D deficiency. For fighting vitamin D deficiency, these are already recommended doses - again, before taking any supplement, check with your doctor.
If you like Mediterranean cuisine and you eat fish on the regular basis, vitamin D deficiency can occur only if there is some issue with vitamin D absorption. Most of our recipes with fish have daily dose of vitamin D in a single serving. And such meals taste much better than pills, right? :)
Note: If you believe that you are vitamin D deficient, or you have (or believe that you have) vitamin D deficiency symptoms, go to your doctor and do some blood tests - they are the best way to find out if you are vitamin D deficient or not.