Healthy Eating: Taking Calcium and Vitamin D

Healthy Eating: Taking Calcium and Vitamin D



Introduction

Bone thinning occurs as part of aging. After age 30, men and women begin to lose bone mass. If over time your bones thin so much that they become fragile and in danger of breaking, you have osteoporosis.

How can you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your daily diet?

Many foods have lots of calcium.

Calcium is in foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Vegetables like broccoli, kale, and Chinese cabbage have calcium. You can get calcium if you eat the soft edible bones in canned sardines and canned salmon. Foods with added (fortified) calcium include some cereals, juices, soy drinks, and tofu. The food label will show how much calcium was added.

One good source of calcium is fat-free milk fortified with vitamin D. Four cups a day have about 1,200 mg of calcium. Other good sources include shrimp, blackstrap molasses, and almonds.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. It's in foods such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. It's also in cheese, egg yolks, and beef liver. You can also get vitamin D from fortified foods. These include milk, some cereals, orange juices, and yogurts. It's also in margarines and soy drinks.

Everyone who has osteoporosis should try to eat a diet rich in these nutrients. Some people may need to take a calcium supplement with vitamin D.

Types of calcium supplements include:

You can get calcium supplements at most grocery stores and drugstores. They come in tablets, chewables, and capsules. Not all supplements contain the same amount of calcium or contain vitamin D. Read the label to see which one is best for you.

Think about how much calcium and vitamin D you normally get in your diet. Then each day take the number of tablets that will give you—when combined with the amount in your diet—your daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D. This will vary based on your age and health. Be careful not to take more than you need.


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