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Why Calcium and Vitamin D Are Essential to Bone Health
Are Calcium and Vitamin D Essential to Bone Health?
The foods we eat are filled with a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients that help our bodies function optimally. Two nutrients in particular, calcium and vitamin D, are needed for maintaining strong bones.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the critical roles of calcium and vitamin D in bone health and how you can ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of these essential nutrients.
The Role of Calcium in Bone Health
Calcium is a mineral that’s utilized by almost every cell in the body, including those that make up the nervous system, muscles, and heart.
Your bones contain 99 percent of the total calcium in your body, while the remaining 1 percent is found in blood, muscle, and other tissues.[*] As such, it should come as no surprise that calcium is particularly important when it comes to building healthy bones and teeth, and keeping them strong as you age.
When your body makes new bone tissue, it first lays down a foundation made of collagen. Then, tiny crystals of calcium from your blood spread throughout the collagen foundation, filling in the nooks and crannies.
The Role of Vitamin D in Bone Health
While calcium is the main superstar when it comes to bone health, your body requires vitamin D to absorb calcium. Without adequate amounts of vitamin D, your body won’t be able to form enough of the hormone calcitriol (also known as “active vitamin D”). This leads to insufficient calcium absorption from your diet.
How Do You Get Calcium?
Every day, you lose calcium through your skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine, and feces. Your body cannot make calcium on its own—it can only obtain it through the foods you eat or supplements.
The primary sources of calcium in the diet include milk and other dairy products like cheese and yogurt, green vegetables like kale and broccoli, soy products, and sardines.[*]
If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your body will take it from your bones to ensure normal cell function. This is fine once in a while, but if it happens too often, it can cause bones to weaken, prevent the formation of strong, new bone, and increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Certain groups of people need to take special care in ensuring they receive enough calcium, including:[*]
- Postmenopausal women: Following menopause, the body absorbs and retains less calcium. This can cause bones to weaken over time.
- People who are dairy-free: People who don’t drink milk or eat other dairy products are at increased risk of calcium deficiency, as these products are rich sources of calcium.
- Pregnant women: When pregnant, a woman’s body takes calcium from her bones or teeth to give to her baby. As such, pregnant women need extra calcium.
How Much Calcium Do You Need Per Day?
National surveys have shown that most people aren’t getting the calcium they need to grow and maintain healthy bones. So, how much should you be getting? Let’s take a look.[*]
- Children 4-8 years old: 1,000 mg per day
- Children/Teens 9-18 years old: 1,300 mg per day
- Adults 19-50 years old: 1,000 mg per day
- Males 51-70 years old: 1,000 mg per day
- Females 51-70 years old: 1,200 mg per day
- Pregnant/lactating women 14-18 years old: 1,300 mg per day
- Pregnant/lactating women 19-50 years old: 1,000 mg per day
How Do You Get Vitamin D?
As with calcium, you must obtain vitamin D through outside sources, namely sunlight, food, or supplements. Foods high in vitamin D include salmon, tuna, mackerel, beef liver, and egg yolks. However, unless you’re consuming large quantities of these foods, they can’t be your sole source of vitamin D.
The most significant source of vitamin D is sunlight. When your skin is exposed to direct sunlight, it manufactures vitamin D. For some people, however, getting adequate sunlight can be a challenge. Perhaps they live in a part of the world that is overcast for most of the year, or maybe they can’t get outside as much as they’d like due to work or physical limitations.
Not getting enough vitamin D can have serious consequences, including increased bone loss and fractures, osteomalacia (soft bones), and rickets (a deforming bone disorder) in children.[*]
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
Your ability to get enough vitamin D depends on many factors, including sun exposure, ethnicity, latitude, season, and clothing. According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the average daily intake of vitamin D should be between 400-800 IU (or 10-20 mcg) per day.[*]
That being said, vitamin D is one of the most common deficiencies worldwide.[*] One research review found that almost 42 percent of U.S. adults have a vitamin D deficiency. This figure goes up to nearly 63 percent in Hispanic adults and 82 percent in African American adults.[*]
In vitamin D deficient individuals, 5,000 IU (125 mcg) of vitamin D daily may be needed to reach sufficient blood levels.[*]
Covering Your Bases With Supplements
In a perfect world, you’d get all the calcium and vitamin D you need from food and the sun. The reality, however, is that this is nearly impossible due to several factors, such as genetic variations, dietary restrictions, unavailability of certain foods, busy schedules, lack of sun exposure, and personal preferences.
Those who don’t get enough of these nutrients through food or sunlight should consider taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement to reach optimal levels. A supplement can cover your nutritional blind spots, ensuring you receive all the nutrients necessary to support your bone health and protect against osteoporosis.
Our FitFormula Classic Calcium and Vitamin D Supplement makes getting your daily dose of these two bone-boosting nutrients a breeze.
The tasteless powder supplement dissolves quickly when mixed with juice, water, applesauce, or oatmeal, and provides 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 25 micrograms of vitamin D. The powder comes wrapped in individual packages, making it easy to take on the go.
Our calcium and vitamin D supplement is safe for all, including children, teenagers, adults, pregnant and/or lactating women, and seniors.
The Bottom Line on Calcium and Vitamin D for Bone Health
Calcium and vitamin D are needed for many important functions in the body, including bone health. While calcium and vitamin D can be obtained by eating certain foods (and in the case of vitamin D, spending time in the sun), many people are lacking in these two essential nutrients.
To ensure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D, consider supplementing your diet with a high-quality supplement, such as FitFormula Classic Calcium and Vitamin D Supplement. This way, you can rest assured your body is receiving the building blocks it needs to build and maintain strong, healthy bones.