Calcium/vitamin D requirements, recommended foods and supplements (2023)

Calcium and vitamin D are essential for building strong, dense bones both at a young age and in old age. The information here will help you learn all about calcium and vitamin D - the two most important nutrients for bone health.

It is also important to continue to get enough calcium and vitamin D to prevent further bone loss if you are prescribed medication to prevent bone loss or fractures.

What is calcium and what are its effects?

Calcium/vitamin D requirements, recommended foods and supplements (1)

Eating a calcium-rich diet (including dairy products, nuts, leafy greens and fish) helps build and protect your bones.

Calcium is an essential mineral. In addition to building and maintaining bones, calcium keeps our blood clotting, our muscles contracting and our heart beating. About 99% of the calcium in our body is in our bones and teeth.

Every day we lose calcium through our skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and feces. Our body cannot produce its own calcium. It is therefore important to get enough calcium from food. When we don't get the calcium our body needs, it is taken from our bones. This imbalance causes the bones to weaken and break more easily.

Too many Americans don't get the amount of calcium they need on a daily basis, and this can lead to bone loss, low bone density, and even fractures.

How Much Calcium Do You Need?

The amount of calcium you need each day depends on your age and gender.

Age 50 and younger1,000 mg* daily
Age 51 and older1,200 mg* daily

Age 70 and younger1,000 mg* daily
Age 71 and older1,200 mg* daily

*This includes the total amount of calcium you get from food and supplements.

How much calcium do you eat?

Use the International Osteoporosis Foundation Calcium Calculator to find out.

sources of calcium

Calcium-rich food sources

The best source of calcium is food. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese are high in calcium. Certain green vegetables and other foods contain lower amounts of calcium. Calcium is found in fortified foods in some juices, breakfast cereals, soy milk, cereals, snacks, bread and mineral water. If you consume soy milk, other nut milks (e.g. almond or oat milk) or any other liquid fortified with calcium, be sure to shake the container well as the calcium may settle to the bottom.

An easy way to add calcium to many foods is to add a single tablespoon of nonfat milk powder, which contains about 50 mg of calcium. It's easy to add a few tablespoons to almost any recipe.

Reading Food Labels - How Much Calcium Do I Consume?

To determine how much calcium is in a particular food, check the Daily Value (DV) in the Nutrition Facts table. Food labels list calcium as a percentage of the daily requirement. This amount is based on 1,000 mg of calcium per day. E.g:

  • 30% DV calcium corresponds to 300 mg calcium.
  • 20% DV calcium corresponds to 200 mg calcium.
  • 15% DV calcium corresponds to 150 mg calcium.

Calcium preparation

The amount of calcium you need from a dietary supplement depends on how much you get from food. Aim to get the recommended daily amount through food, only supplement as needed to achieve the recommended daily intake. In general, you should not take too many supplements that you do not need. If you get enough calcium from your diet, it may not be necessary to take a supplement. There is no added benefit to taking more calcium than you need. This can even pose risks such as constipation, kidney stones and possibly excessive calcification of the heart.

Calcium supplements are available over the counter in a variety of preparations (including chewable tablets, gums, powders and liquids) and in varying amounts and sizes. The best supplement is the one that meets your needs for tolerance, convenience, cost, and availability. When choosing a dietary supplement, consider the following:

  • Choose branded food supplements with proven reliability.Look for labels that say "purified" or the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) symbol. The "USP Verified Mark" on the supplement label means that the USP has tested the calcium supplement and determined that it meets its standards for purity and quality.
  • Read the product label carefully to determine the amountelemental calciumThis is the actual amount of calcium in the supplement and the number of doses or pills you need to take. When reading the label, pay close attention to the "amount per serving" and "serving size."
  • Calcium is best absorbed when taken in amounts of 500-600 mg or less.This applies to both food and supplements. Try to eat calcium-rich foods and/or supplements in small amounts throughout the day, preferably with a meal. Although not recommended, taking all the calcium at once is better than not taking it at all.
  • Take (most) calcium supplements with food.Eating creates stomach acid, which helps your body absorb most calcium supplements. The only exception to the rule is calcium citrate, which is well absorbed regardless of food intake.
  • When starting a new calcium supplement, start with a smaller amount to ensure better tolerance.If switching supplements, start with 200-300 mg daily for one week and drink an additional 6-8 ounces of water. Then gradually add more calcium each week.
  • Side effects of calcium supplements, such as bloating or constipation, may occur or worsen.If increasing fluid intake in your diet and getting enough fiber doesn't solve the problem, try a different type or brand of calcium. Finding the right grant for you may require trial and error, but fortunately there are many options.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions between prescription and over-the-counter medications and calcium supplements.

What is vitamin D and what are its effects?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and plays an important role in protecting your bones, helping your body absorb calcium and supporting the muscles needed to prevent falls. Children need vitamin D to build strong bones, and adults need it to keep their bones strong and healthy.

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?

women and men
under 50400-800 international units (IU) daily**
Age 50 and older800-1,000 IU daily**

**According to the National Academy of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, the safe upper limit of vitamin D for most adults is 4,000 IU per day. day. These recommendations apply to the general healthy adult population.

Sources of vitamin D

There are three ways to get vitamin D:

  • sunlight
  • Essen
  • additions


Your skin produces vitamin D in response to sunlight and stores it in fat for later use. How much vitamin D your skin can produce depends on the time of day, season, latitude, skin pigmentation, age and other factors.

There are many reasons why people don't have enough vitamin D. As we age, our skin loses its ability to produce vitamin D. People who live in cities or in facilities such as nursing homes spend too little time outdoors. Even people who spend a lot of time outdoors often use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. Sunscreens with an SPF of just 8 reduce vitamin D production by 95 percent.

Vitamin D in foods

Vitamin D is found in very few foods. Sources are oily fish such as wild-caught mackerel, salmon and tuna. Vitamin D is added to milk and other dairy products, orange juice, soy milk and fortified cereals.

Check the food label to see if vitamin D has been added to a particular product. An 8-ounce serving of milk typically contains 25% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin D. The DV is based on a total daily intake of 400 IU of vitamin D. So a serving of milk with 25% of the DV of vitamin D contains 100 IU .

It is often difficult to get all the vitamin D you need from sunlight and food alone. Some people with underlying conditions may need to take vitamin D supplements to support bone health.

Vitamin D supplements

Healthy adults who are not vitamin D deficient should be able to get enough vitamin D through sunlight and a balanced diet. People with osteoporosis and low bone mass should discuss their vitamin D levels with their doctor to ensure they are getting the optimal amount.

Before adding a vitamin D supplement, check to see if any other supplements, multivitamins, or medications you are taking contain vitamin D. Many calcium supplements also contain some vitamin D.

There are two types of vitamin D supplements. These are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Both types are good for bone health.

Vitamin D supplements can be taken with or without food, and the entire amount can be taken at once. While your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium, you do not need to take vitamin D at the same time as a calcium supplement. If you need help choosing a vitamin D supplement, ask your doctor to recommend one for you.

Vitamin D deficiency: Are you at risk?

Vitamin D deficiency occurs when you do not get recommended levels of vitamin D over time. Certain people are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, including:

  • people who spend little time in the sun or who regularly cover up outdoors;
  • people living in nursing homes or other facilities, or who are homebound;
  • people with certain medical conditions such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease;
  • People taking medicines that affect vitamin D levels, such as B. certain anti-seizure medicines;
  • people with very dark skin;
  • Fat or severely obese people; And
  • Older adults with certain risk factors.

Talk to your doctor if you have any of these risk factors. If you have osteoporosis, low bone mass, or another condition that can cause bone loss, and also have a vitamin D deficiency, your doctor may recommend vitamin D supplements to keep you on a healthy 25-hydroxy diet - To bring vitamin D levels, which are generally normal. A value between 30 and 60 ng/ml has been agreed upon by medical societies.

A guide to calcium-rich foods

We all know that milk is a great source of calcium, but you might be surprised at how many different foods you can incorporate into your diet to get the recommended daily amount of calcium. Use the guide below to get ideas for more calcium-rich foods to add to your weekly shopping list.

To produceserving sizeEstimate calcium*
Kale, frozen8 ounce360 mg
Broccoli-Rabe8 ounce200 mg
Kale, frozen8 ounce180 mg
Soybeans, green, cooked8 ounce175 mg
Bok Choy, bought, bought8 ounce160 mg
Figs, dried2 fig65 mg
Broccoli, fresh, cooked8 ounce60 mg
oranges1 hel55 mg
shellfishserving sizeEstimate calcium*
Canned sardines with bones3 ounce325 mg
Canned salmon on the bone3 ounce180 mg
Shrimp, canned3 ounce125 mg
dairyserving sizeEstimate calcium*
Ricotta, partially skimmed4 oz335 mg
Yogurt, natural, low-fat6 ounce310 mg
Milk, skimmed milk, low-fat, whole8 ounce300 mg
Yoghurt with fruits, low-fat6 ounce260 mg
Mozzarella, partially skimmed1 ounce210 mg
Cheddar1 ounce205 mg
Yogurt, Greek6 ounce200 mg
American cheese1 ounce195 mg
Feta ost4 oz140 mg
cottage cheese, 2%4 oz105 mg
Frozen yogurt, vanilla8 ounce105 mg
ice, vanilla8 ounce85 mg
Parmesan1 THE55 mg
fortified foodsserving sizeEstimate calcium*
Almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, enriched oat milk8 ounce300 mg
Orange juice and other fruit juices, fortified8 ounce300 mg
Tofu prepared with calcium4 oz205 mg
Waffle frozen enhanced2 pieces200 mg
Oatmeal, enriched1 package140 mg
Enriched English muffin1 muffin100 mg
Cereals, enriched 358 ounce100-1.000 mg
Andreserving sizeEstimate calcium*
Mac & Cheese, frozen1 package325 mg
Pizza, cheese, frozen1 Portion115 mg
Pudding, chocolate, prepared with 2% milk4 oz160 mg
Beans, baked, canned4 oz160 mg

*The calcium content listed for most foods is an estimate and may vary based on a number of factors. Check the food label to determine how much calcium a particular product contains.

Last checked on 23/05/2023

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