Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium and vitamin D work together in the body to perform a variety of important tasks. Calcium is a vital component for proper functioning of the heart, muscles and nerves. Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium. A calcium deficiency, or an inability to properly absorb calcium, can lead to the development of osteoporosis. A vitamin D deficiency forces the body to take calcium from its stores in the bones, including the spine, weakening the skeletal structure or preventing the formation of new, strong bone.

More calcium needed

Studies have shown that most Americans do not receive enough dietary calcium to maintain a healthy skeleton for a lifetime. There are many dairy and non-dairy foods that are good sources of dietary calcium, such as:

  • Milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Baked beans
  • Salmon
  • Broccoli
  • Almonds
  • Peas
  • Fortified oatmeal, bread, orange juice, etc.

People with naturally occurring calcium deficiencies or an inability to absorb dietary calcium might find relief through calcium supplements. The amount of calcium required in a daily diet depends on age:

  • 0 to 6 months – 210 mg
  • 7 to 12 months – 270 mg
  • 1 to 3 years – 500 mg
  • 4 to 8 years – 800 mg
  • 9 to 18 years – 1,300 mg
  • 19 to 50 years – 1,000 mg
  • 50 and older – 1,200 mg

As mentioned previously, failure to consume the proper amount of calcium and vitamin D can result in a weakened spine and painful spinal conditions like bone spurs, osteoporosis and bulging discs.

Also available in supplement form

Vitamin D can also be received through diet or supplements, but most people receive all the vitamin D they need from sunshine. About 15 minutes in the sun – without sunscreen – several times a week usually provides enough vitamin D. However, extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays is not recommended. People who are at risk for vitamin D deficiency include those with limited sun exposure, breastfed infants and older adults. Talk to your physician about ways to maintain proper levels of calcium, vitamin D and other essential vitamins and minerals.