Top Food Sources of Calcium and Vitamin D
To keep bones strong, your body is constantly breaking down old bone cells and growing new ones, just as it sheds and replaces skin cells. To fuel bone growth, keep bone density strong, and prevent osteoporosis, you need a good supply of calcium from dairy products and other foods. But you also need enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is key in absorbing calcium from the food you eat. Here’s some advice on how to get more calcium and vitamin D in your diet.
Food Sources of Calcium and Vitamin D
Your body doesn’t make calcium on its own. The best way to get more calcium is to improve your diet. You already know that dairy products — such as milk, cheese, and yogurt — are good sources of calcium for those who don’t have lactose or other dairy intolerance. Other foods that are high in calcium include:
- Soy beans
- White beans
- Some fish, like sardines, salmon, perch, and rainbow trout
- Foods that are calcium fortified, such as some orange juice, oatmeal, and breakfast cereal
It’s a lot harder to get enough vitamin D from foods. Vitamin D is only in a few foods and often in very small amounts. Foods that provide vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish (like tuna, mackerel, and salmon)
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
Getting enough vitamin D from your diet isn’t easy. Studies show that only about 20% of our vitamin D typically comes from the foods we eat.
Your body can also make vitamin D on its own. When you walk out into the sunlight with exposed skin, your body naturally produces vitamin D on its own.
How to Get Enough Calcium and Vitamin D
How much calcium and vitamin D do you need? The Institute of Medicine has released the following guidelines:
- Young children 1-3 years old should get 700 milligrams (mg) per day.
- Children 4-8 years old should get 1,000 mg per day.
- Children 9-18 years old should get 1,300 mg of calcium a day.
- Adults up to age 70 should get 1,000 mg per day. Women 51 and over should get 1,200 mg/day.
- Women and men 71 and over should get 1,200 mg per day.