Vitamin D3 supplementation in healthy adults: a comparison between capsule and oral spray solution as a method of delivery in a wintertime, randomised, open-label, cross-over study

Br J Nutr. 2016 Oct;116(8):1402-1408. doi: 10.1017/S0007114516003470. Epub 2016 Oct 11.


Vitamin D is typically supplied in capsule form, both in trials and in clinical practice. However, little is known regarding the efficacy of vitamin D administered via oral sprays - a method that primarily bypasses the gastrointestinal absorption route. This study aimed to compare the efficacy of vitamin D3 liquid capsules and oral spray solution in increasing wintertime total 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations. In this randomised, open-label, cross-over trial, healthy adults (n 22) received 3000 IU (75 µg) vitamin D3 daily for 4 weeks in either capsule or oral spray form. Following a 10-week washout phase, participants received the opposite treatment for a final 4 weeks. Anthropometrics and fasted blood samples were obtained before and after supplementation, with samples analysed for total 25(OH)D, creatinine, intact parathyroid hormone and adjusted Ca concentrations. At baseline, vitamin D sufficiency (total 25(OH)D>50 nmol/l), insufficiency (31-49 nmol/l) and clinical deficiency (<30 nmol/l) were evident in 59, 23 and 18 % of the participants, respectively. Overall, baseline total mean 25(OH)D concentration averaged 59·76 (sd 29·88) nmol/l, representing clinical sufficiency. ANCOVA revealed no significant difference in the mean and standard deviation change from baseline in total 25(OH)D concentrations between oral spray and capsule supplementation methods (26·15 (sd 17·85) v. 30·38 (sd 17·91) nmol/l, respectively; F=1·044, adjusted r 2 0·493, P=0·313). Oral spray vitamin D3 is an equally effective alternative to capsule supplementation in healthy adults.

Keywords: 25(OH)D 25-hydroxyvitamin D; Capsules; Comparative effectiveness; Cross-over study; Oral spray; Supplementation; Vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • 25-Hydroxyvitamin D 2 / blood
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Calcifediol / blood
  • Calcium / blood
  • Capsules
  • Cholecalciferol / administration & dosage*
  • Cholecalciferol / adverse effects
  • Cholecalciferol / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Lost to Follow-Up
  • Male
  • Northern Ireland
  • Oral Sprays
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Patient Compliance
  • Seasons
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / diet therapy
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / physiopathology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Capsules
  • Oral Sprays
  • PTH protein, human
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Cholecalciferol
  • 25-Hydroxyvitamin D 2
  • Calcifediol
  • Calcium