The Importance of Calcium & Vitamin D

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Adequate Calcium and vitamin D are necessary for bone health at any age.
Bone is made up of calcium and protein. The skeleton is continually being renewed, a process by which old bone is removed and new bone is formed. This process requires an adequate calcium intake to maintain bone health over a lifetime.
Individual needs for calcium change as we age. The demand for calcium is greatest during childhood and adolescence when growth is occurring and bone is being made faster than it is removed. Some bone loss in adulthood is normal, but excessive loss, especially in postmenopausal women, can lead to bone fragility and fractures. Getting enough calcium helps protect bones by slowing the rate of bone loss.
Vitamin D’s role is to help the body absorb calcium.

Calcium: Requirements

The National Institute of Health recommends a daily calcium intake (mg/day) of:

  • Children, aged 9-17 1300 mg
  • Adults, aged 18 & older 1000-1500 mg

Most women don’t get the daily amount of calcium they need from their diets alone. It’s hard to get enough calcium by diet without eating foods that are high in fat and calories. If you have difficulty getting the recommended daily amount from foods, calcium supplements are available to make up the difference. If you take a supplement, be sure to drink six to eight glasses of water each day.

Vitamin D: Requirements

The recommended dietary allowance for Vitamin D is between 400-800 IU/day.
Natural sources of vitamin D can be found in fortified milk, egg yolks, saltwater fish and liver. Getting at least 15 minutes of sun exposure daily will help your body form its own supply. Vitamin D can be obtained in supplements, most often either in multivitamins or combined with calcium supplements.


In the case of both calcium and vitamin D, more is not necessarily better. While adequate intake is needed, it’s important not to take too much. Do not take more than a total of 2000 mg of calcium (diet plus supplement) or 800 IU of vitamin D, unless specifically directed by your healthcare professional.

Foods Containing Calcium Content (mg)

Milk – Whole 8 oz 291
Low fat 8 oz 298
Skim 8 oz 303
Yogurt – Low fat 8 oz 250-400
Frozen, fruit 8 oz 240
American 1 oz 195
Cheddar 1 oz 211
Swiss 1 oz 219
Mozzarella – part-skim 1 oz 207
Ricotta – part-skim 4 oz 335
Cottage cheese – low-fat 4 oz 78
Ice Cream
Hard 1 cup 176
Soft serve 1 cup 236
Nuts – Almonds 1 oz 66
Sesame seeds 3.5 oz 100
Sardines – canned in oil 3 oz 375
Salmon – pink canned 3 oz 167
Shrimp 3.5 oz 63
Scallops 3.5 oz 115
Tofu 4 oz 150
Bok choy, raw 1 cup 250
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 136
Carrots 1 cup 50
Kale, cooked ¾ cup 187
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 175
Spinach, cooked ½ cup 83
Fortified Foods
Calcium-fortified milk 8 oz 500
Fruit juice w/added calcium 8 oz 300