Many of us don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D, especially during the winter months when there isn’t enough sunlight to stimulate the production of vitamin D from our skin.
Vitamin D and calcium are critical for bone health, particularly during adolescence and after age 50. Vitamin D actually helps your body absorb more calcium and recent studies have shown that vitamin D may play a role in preventing chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and depression, just to name a few.
Recommendations and Absorption
In order to maintain optimal blood levels, you need to get in your calcium and Vitamin D every day. The IOM recommends between 600 IU – 800 IU of Vitamin D per day (depending on your age) and most of us need between 1000-1200 mg of calcium per day.
Vitamin D and calcium work together to help strengthen bones. You might think it’s pretty simple to get these nutrients from the food we eat, but it really isn’t. Vitamin D is not prevalent in food; we get most of our vitamin D from fish oils and dairy products. Milk and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are all very good sources of vitamin D. Small amounts of vitamin D are also found in beef liver and egg yolks.
Calcium absorption is not without its limitations, as well. There are components in food that can prevent calcium from getting absorbed. Phytic and oxalic acid are the biggest offenders. Found naturally in plants, these compounds bind to calcium and prevent it from being absorbed during digestion. Foods we generally think highly of as great sources of calcium tend to contain the highest levels of oxalic acid. These include spinach, collard greens, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, and beans. Phytic acid is found in fiber-containing whole-grains like wheat bran, plus beans, seeds, nuts, and soy isolates. These limitations are actually accounted for in the calcium recommendations, which allow for differences in absorption rates of calcium.
Another inhibitor to calcium absorption is a high sodium intake, which increases urinary calcium excretion. High levels of sodium are found in highly processed packaged foods.
An easy way to get the calcium and vitamin D that you need each day is by adding a supplement like Cal-EZ to the foods you’re already eating. I love to add a packet to breakfast by blending it up with my favorite smoothie or stirring it into warm oatmeal. Because it has no flavor and blends super easily, I don’t even know it’s there!
This refreshing pineapple turmeric chia seed Fresca is always on my rotation for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
Chia Fresca w/ Pineapple and Turmeric
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Juice from half a lime
- 4-6 oz. coconut water
- 2 tsp chia seeds
- 1 packet Cal-EZ powder
Blend pineapple, lime, turmeric and Cal-EZ powder in a high speed blender. Pour into serving glass and stir in chia seeds. Let sit for a few minutes before drinking!
Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D this winter and your body will surely thank you! What tricks and tips do you have for making sure your body gets enough vitamin D in the winter?