Friday, April 5, 2013

Article # 453. How Much Calcium & Vitamin D Should Adults Take?

Calcium and vitamin D are essential nutrients your body needs to grow and maintain healthy bones and teeth. When one or both of these nutrients are deficient, you increase your risk of bone loss and fractures. You can obtain calcium and nutrients from food and supplements. Consult your doctor about your daily requirements for calcium and vitamin D.


Calcium, the most abundant mineral in your body, is essential to develop and maintain strong bones and teeth and assist your heart, nerves and muscles to function properly. A deficiency of calcium increases your risk of osteoporosis. The Recommended Daily Allowance of calcium per day for both women and men is 1,000 mg for adults ages 19 to 50 years, 1,200 mg for adults ages 51 and older, and 1,000 mg for pregnant and breastfeeding women 19 years of age and older. Foods that are your best sources of calcium include dairy products such as cheese, low-fat milk and yogurt; tofu; blackstrap molasses; almonds; dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, bok choy, broccoli and kelp; and canned salmon. You may also obtain calcium through supplements containing calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. You require more calcium as you age and also if you have conditions that affect absorption, such as Crohn's disease and celiac disease.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that helps absorb calcium from food into your body, maintain adequate blood levels of calcium and phosphate, promote bone growth, regulate immune function and neuromuscular activity, and reduce inflammation. Vitamin D is found in a few foods, such as cod liver oil, organ meats and foods fortified with the nutrient. Your body can produce vitamin D after exposing your skin to ultraviolet rays of the sun for at least 15 minutes each day. A deficiency of vitamin D can cause your bones to become thin and brittle and increase your risk of softening of the bones and bone loss. Your required daily amounts for vitamin D increase with age. The Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin D per day for both men and women are 200 IU for adults ages 19 to 50 years, 400 IU for adults ages 51 to 70 years, 600 IU for adults ages 70 years and older, and 200 IU for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Physicians recommend you take vitamin D supplements if you do not get sufficient skin exposure to sunlight and enough vitamin from foods.


Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements may prevent osteoporosis. Research by scientists at Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium, and published in the "Journal of Internal Medicine" in 2006 reports combined calcium and vitamin D supplementation is essential to prevent and manage osteoporosis. Effective daily dosages for adults are 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D.


Eating a healthy diet and skin exposure to the sun are the best ways to obtain calcium and vitamin D. Being physically active can reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Your need for supplements may increase as you age, so ask your doctor to test your vitamin D levels to ensure you do not have a deficiency of this nutrient.


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