Calcium, vitamin D, and your bonesOsteoporosis - calcium; Osteoporosis - low bone density
Your body needs calcium to keep your bones dense and strong. Low bone density can cause your bones to become brittle and fragile. These weak bones can break easily, even without an obvious injury.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Eat foods that provide the right amounts of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. This kind of diet will give your body the building blocks it needs to make and maintain strong bones.
What does your body need to build strong bones?
All of the above
How much calcium should adults under age 50 have each day?
Dairy products are the best source of calcium.
If you have lactose intolerance, you can't get enough calcium.
Dairy products are the only foods that are rich in calcium.
Which vegetable is not a good source of calcium?
Which fish is a good source of calcium?
Fillet of sole
Grilled mahi mahi
Canned salmon or sardines
Fried fish nuggets
All of the above
You should cook vegetables thoroughly to make calcium easy to absorb.
Which snack is high in calcium?
Tahini (sesame paste)
All of the above
It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone.
How Much Calcium and Vitamin D Do I Need?
All adults under age 50 should have:
- 1,000 mg of calcium daily
- 400 - 800 IU of vitamin D daily
Adults age 51 and older should have:
- Women -- 1,200 mg of calcium daily
- Men-- 1,000 mg of calcium daily
- Men and women -- 800 - 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily
Calcium and Dairy Products
Milk and dairy products are the best sources of calcium. This includes yogurts, cheeses, and buttermilk, which contain a form of calcium that your body can absorb easily.
Adults should choose fat-free (skim) milk or low-fat (2% or 1%) milk, and other lower fat dairy products. Removing some of the fat does not lower the amount of calcium in a dairy product.
- Yogurt, most cheeses, and buttermilk come in fat-free or low-fat versions.
- Vitamin D helps your body use calcium, which is why vitamin D is often added to milk in production.
If you eat very few or no dairy products, you can find calcium in other foods. It is oftenadded to orange juice, soy milk, tofu, ready-to-eat cereals, and breads. Check the labels on these foods for added calcium.
Other Sources of Calcium
Green leafy vegetables -- such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and bok choy (Chinese cabbage) -- are good sources of calcium.
Other foods that can help you get enough calcium are:
- Salmon and sardines that are canned with their bones (you can eat these soft bones)
- Almonds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, tahini (sesame paste), and dried beans
- Blackstrap molasses
Other tips to make sure your body can use the calcium in your diet:
- Cook high-calcium vegetables in a small amount of water for the shortest possible time. They will keep more calcium this way.
- Be careful about what you eat with calcium-rich foods. Certain fibers, such as wheat brain and foods with oxalic acid (spinach and rhubarb), can prevent your body from absorbing calcium.
Your doctor may recommend a calcium or vitamin D supplement for the calcium and vitamin D you need.
Lewiecki EM. In the clinic. Osteoporosis. Ann Intern Med. 2011 Jul 5;155(1):ITC1-1-15;quiz ITC1-16.
National Osteoporosis Foundation. Clinician's Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis. Washington, DC: National Osteoporosis Foundation; 2010.
Review Date: 5/17/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.