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Top Vitamin D Sources: Natural vs. Synthetic

supplements on a table

Vitamin D is crucial for our bodies, and maintaining sufficient levels is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, many people do not get adequate amounts of vitamin D from their diets and must seek out alternative methods. While synthetic sources of vitamin D are available, such as supplements, there are also natural sources of vitamin D that can be just as beneficial.

This guide will look at the primary sources of vitamin D, both natural and synthetic, so that you can decide on the best way to supplement your vitamin D levels.

Natural sources of vitamin D

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient for maintaining good health. The body requires vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus, build strong bones and help regulate the immune system and support cell growth. Natural sources of vitamin D are an essential part of remaining healthy.

Vitamin D-rich food sources

Fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon are ideal sources of vitamin D. These fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, making them a beneficial addition to any diet. Fortified foods, such as orange juice, breakfast cereals, and milk, can also provide large amounts of vitamin D. Additionally, egg yolks are a good source of vitamins for omelets, scrambled eggs, and frittatas.

A wooden cutting board topped with sliced up watermelon

Sunlight: Nature’s source of vitamin D

The sun is a natural source of Vitamin D, and the body can synthesize it from sun exposure. This process is known as photosynthesis. However, several factors can affect the body’s ability to synthesize Vitamin D from the sun, such as skin pigmentation, the time of day, the season, and the amount of exposure to sunlight.

extended hand towards the sun with a sunbeam showing through the fingers

The amount of skin exposed to sunlight will also affect how much Vitamin D the body synthesizes. The amount of skin and exposure to the sun boosts the production of Vitamin D in the body. It is also important to note that sunscreen blocks UVB radiation and will reduce the amount of Vitamin D produced. Therefore, we recommend using sunscreen if staying in the sun for long periods or when at risk of burning.

Synthetic sources of vitamin D

Vitamin D supplements are the most common synthetic source of vitamin D and are available in various forms, such as drops, capsules, pills, and even injections. Most vitamin D supplements contain either Vitamin D2 or Vitamin D3, both of which are equally effective in raising serum levels of vitamin D in the body.

Vitamin D supplements

Vitamin D supplements are available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, and drops, and are typically taken once a day, depending on your specific needs and doctor’s recommendations. Most vitamin D supplements contain D2 (ergocalciferol) or D3 (cholecalciferol), essential for calcium absorption and bone health.

vial filled with yellow pills

Discussing your needs with your doctor before beginning any supplement is essential, as too much vitamin D can be dangerous. Additionally, it is important to note that not all vitamin D supplements are created equal; some brands may contain impurities or fillers that could be harmful if ingested.

Pros and cons of natural and synthetic sources of vitamin D

When it comes to vitamin D supplementation, there are two primary options: natural and synthetic sources. Taking the necessary time to consider the benefits of each before deciding is vital to determine the pros and cons of each form. Natural sources are sufficient for many, but synthetic sources may be a solution for those requiring higher levels of nutrients or who do not have access to natural sources.

Pros of natural sources of vitamin D

  • Absorption and utilization by the body
  • Lack of side effects

Cons of natural sources of vitamin D

  • Dependence on sun exposure
  • Seasonal variations in sunlight

Pros of synthetic sources of vitamin D

  • A consistent and reliable source of Vitamin D
  • Ability to meet the daily recommended intake

Cons of synthetic sources of vitamin D

  • Potential for side effects
  • Interactions with other medications


Vitamin D plays an essential role in keeping our bodies healthy, and taking the necessary steps to ensure your body is getting enough is vital. Natural sources of vitamin D are plentiful, such as spending time outside, eating fortified foods, and taking supplements. Synthetic sources are also available, such as medication and supplements.

Both natural and synthetic sources have pros and cons and should be discussed with your doctor to determine what is best for you. Ultimately, finding a balanced and healthy approach to Vitamin D intake will help ensure your body is getting enough while avoiding the potential risks of over-supplementation.

Get an In-Home Vitamin D Shot

Vitamin D helps support healthy energy levels, mood, immune function, and more. Replenish low levels of this essential vitamin with in-home shots administered by one of our registered nurses.

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Vitamin D Shots - Frequently Asked Questions

Can you take too much vitamin D?

Yes, it is possible to take too much vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it can build up in the body and potentially lead to toxic levels if it is consumed in large amounts. Vitamin D toxicity can cause hypercalcemia, a buildup of calcium in your blood. This condition can cause symptoms such as weakness, nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, kidney problems, and more.

How often do you need vitamin D shots?

Frequency of treatment depends on individual circumstances such as the severity of vitamin D deficiency, medical history, and other factors. However, most people may receive 1 – 3 shots over the course of a year.

Are vitamin D shots better than oral supplements?

Yes. Because vitamin D shots are given intramuscularly, the ingredients bypass your digestive system so that the full dose is available to your body for maximum benefits. Vitamin D shots are rapidly available for your cells to use.

What happens if you don’t treat vitamin D deficiency?

Not treating vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, a rare but treatable condition that causes fatigue, frequent illnesses, depression, and impacts bone and muscle health. In children, vitamin D deficiency can impact normal growth and development.

Read more: Vitamin D Shots FAQ