Vitamin D and Calcium

Are you getting enough calcium in your diet to prevent bone loss and to protect you from osteoporosis (a condition in which bones become porous and easily broken) later in life? Studies show that many Americans don’t take in enough calcium in their diets.

Women get less than half of the recommended daily amount and are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Did you know that the body absorbs calcium most efficiently when taken in a dose of 500 milligrams or less at a time?

How can you be sure you’re getting enough?  Include calcium-rich foods like low-fat or nonfat milk, cheese, and yogurt or calcium and vitamin D fortified non-dairy options (if you are lactose intolerant). Salmon, broccoli, kale, and other leafy greens are calcium rich as well. If you still don’t think you’re getting enough, a calcium supplement can also help you meet your daily requirement.

It’s important to be sure you’re getting enough vitamin D simultaneously with calcium. Think of vitamin D as the “key,” which opens the door for calcium absorption in your body. Without adequate Vitamin D, much of the calcium you eat may be unabsorbed.

IMG_2035Exposure to sunlight encourages the body to produce vitamin D. Make it a goal to spend 10 to 15 minutes outdoors in the sunshine, two or three times a week. If you spend much of your time indoors, or use sunscreen (in the warmer months) or are limited to sunshine in the winter months (and in northern climates year round), it is difficult for our body to make adequate Vitamin D. On a brighter note, there are many vitamin D fortified foods that you can add to your diet such as breakfast cereals, bars and juices (but watch the sugar in the juice and try to limit it to 4-6 ounces).

The combination of calcium and vitamin D in your diet provides an “insurance plan” that you’ll have strong bones for life! Focus on increasing your intake of these important nutrients today (if your diet is inadequate)!

To learn more about appropriate calcium and vitamin D food sources that suit your needs and recommended supplement dosages, schedule an appointment with Courtney Walberg, Registered Dietitian and Founder of Nutrition For Body And Mind.