If you’ve been to a health food store or natural pharmacy lately looking for a vitamin D supplement, the selection can be quite overwhelming. Tablets, capsules, liquids, multivitamins. Do multivitamins have enough D, or do I need another supplement? What about dosage? 400IU? 50,000IU? That last number is a joke, vitamin D is not available over the counter in that high a potency, and thank goodness! It is a hormone, after all!

In this post I’ll explain which supplement form of vitamin D I prefer and why.

As I’ve discussed in an earlier post, vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. This means it is stored in fatty tissues, and that it is best absorbed by the body when emulsified in fat. Fat soluble means that the vitamin D dissolves well in fat; it does not dissolve well in water. Imagine putting a few drops of olive oil in water; the oil stays separate on top of the water. If you put the olive oil into another type of oil, like coconut oil, the two oils mix together easily. Fat on fat helps absorption.

My favorite vitamin D supplements already have the D in a fat soluble medium to maximize absorption.

A great two-for-one pick is cod liver oil. You’ll get your healthy omega 3 fatty acids, as well as vitamin D! Cod liver oil is different from fish oil in that it includes vitamins A and D. Cod liver oil usually has a low dose of D, which makes it very safe to take long term without concern of accumulating too much of the sunshine vitamin. And, of course, the D is already in fat so it will be readily absorbed. Cod liver oil is readily available in most supplement stores; just choose a high quality brand to ensure you avoid mercury contamination. It also comes in a variety of flavors and in liquid or capsule form.

My second choice is fat emulsified liquid vitamin D. This type of vitamin D is typically only available at your naturopath’s office. The vitamin D is mixed with olive oil or coconut oil and is taken in drops. Drops range from 500 to 2000IU in potency. Very strong stuff! If you see a liquid vitamin D in a store, check the ingredients to make sure it is suspended in a fat, not just water.

My least favorite vitamin D supplements come in capsules or tablets. They are composed only of vitamin D; no fat is included to aid in absorption. If you have capsules or tablets, it’s best to take them around a meal with fat to increase the likelihood of the D being absorbed. This requirement adds an extra step to the process and many times it is difficult to coordinate taking supplements at a particular time or with particular foods.

Simplify the supplement routine and get vitamin D from your naturopath or supplement store that is already emulsified in fat. You’ll get more benefit for your money!

And, as always, talk to your naturopath to find out what dosage is appropriate for you.