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To build strong bones, make sure you get enough calcium at every age.

Make sure you're taking enough calcium in your daily diet. The first choice for adequate calcium intake is from food. You need at least enough calcium to equal 3-4 eight-ounce glasses of milk each day. A variety of calcium-rich foods can provide you with the needed calcium.

  • Make it a habit, take your calcium at the same times each day, such as when you finish meals or brush your teeth.
  • Remember to eat foods with calcium several times throughout the day; your body uses calcium best when it can absorb it in small doses.
  • Vitamin D helps build strong bones, you need 400-800 International Units of vitamin D each day.
  • Calcium plays an important role in keeping bones strong, but calcium alone cannot prevent or cure osteoporosis.
  • If you have osteoporosis, proper nutrition and adequate calcium can help. Exercise can help, too.

Calcium to prevent bone loss. Calcium and vitamin D in your diet protects the calcium in your bones. If you are not getting enough calcium, your bones become your body's emergency supply of calcium. When this happens, your bones become weak and break easily.

Many women consume less than half of the daily recommended amount of calcium. Calcium alone cannot prevent or cure osteoporosis, but it is an important part of preventing osteoporosis.

Foods rich in Calcium and Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a major role in calcium absorption and bone health. Vitamin D allows calcium to leave the intestine and enter the bloodstream. Vitamin D can be found in D-fortified dairy products, egg yolks, saltwater fish and liver. Vitamin D is manufactured in the skin following direct exposure to sunlight. About 10-15 minutes on your hands, arms and face two or three times a week meets the body's need for vitamin D. Since sunscreen diminishes the body's ability to manufacture Vitamin D, spend your first 10-15 minutes without sunscreen, then be sure to put on sunscreen for the remainder of your time outdoors. Remember, sunlight helps build strong bones.

Daily Recommendation

How much calcium does your body need each day? 

Children Calcium
1 - 3 years 500 mg/day
4 - 8 years 800 mg/day
9-18 years 1,300 mg/day
Adults Calcium
19-50 1,000 mg/day
51 and older 1,200 mg/day

Calcium In Your Diet

  • Make it a habit, take your calcium at the same times each day, such as when you finish meals or brush your teeth.
  • Remember to eat foods with calcium several times throughout the day; your body uses calcium best when it can absorb it in small doses.
  • Vitamin D helps build strong bones, you need 400-800 U of vitamin D each day.
  • Calcium plays an important role in keeping bones strong, but calcium alone cannot prevent or cure osteoporosis.
  • If you have osteoporosis, proper nutrition and adequate calcium can help. Exercise can help, too.

    Calcium Food Chart 

Calcium Supplements 

If you don't think you're getting enough calcium from your diet, talk to your health care provider or with a registered dietitian to learn about other foods that are high in calcium and bone-building nutrients. When necessary, supplements may also play a role in bone health. Speak with your physician or a pharmacist about your supplement options. Your body's supply of calcium needs to be replenished - take your calcium at various times throughout the day. Calcium carbonate, such as (e.g., Tums or Oscal), contains the highest percent of calcium, is the least expensive and most widely used form of supplement. Best absorbed if taken with food or right after eating. Can cause gas or bowel problems.

  • Calcium citrate (e.g., Citracal) is often added to breakfast products and juice. It's easier to absorb, but it contains the lowest amount of calcium and it is usually the most costly.
  • Calcium phosphate (e.g., Posture) is easily absorbed and does not have to be taken with food, but has excessive phosphorus.
  • Calcium lactate - avoid this form if dairy intolerant.
  • Calcium gluconate requires many pills to get recommended minimum dose of calcium.
  • Dolomite, bone meal may be contaminated with lead, so should be avoided.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a major role in calcium absorption and bone health. Vitamin D3 is manufactured in the skin following direct exposure to sunlight; however, there are many different factors that affect a person's ability to make adequate amounts of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is critical for health, especially for bone health. Vitamin D is a term used to name several forms of related compounds. All are fat-soluble and act to control calcium metabolism. Vitamin D is vital to absorption of calcium. But the way in which Vitamin D works is complicated. The various parts of Vitamin D metabolism happen throughout the body.

As little as 10 minutes of sunshine can make Vitamin D3 in the skin. But in New Jersey, the angle of the sun is only in the right place from about the end of April through the middle of October. You need to sit in the sun with your skin exposed without sunscreen, of course. In the winter in the northeast, when the sun is too low, a dietary intake of Vitamin D becomes the sole source during those months. Vitamin D3 either consumed in the diet or made in the skin is stored in the liver.

According to NOF recommendations, adults under age 50 need 400-800 IU of vitamin D3 daily, and adults age 50 and older need 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. Vitamin D3 is the form of Vitamin D that best supports bone health.

Food sources - Vitamin D can be obtained from fortified milk, egg yolks, saltwater fish and liver. Some foods may be fortified with Vitamin D, including cereals, breakfast bars and milk alternatives, or supplements.

Supplements - Usually Vitamin D is supplied in tablets in the D3 form, known as cholicalciferol.

 
 
 
 
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