Getting Enough Calcium and Vitamin D - Topic Overview
Why is it important to get enough calcium and vitamin D?
body needs vitamin D to absorb
calcium. Calcium keeps your bones and muscles—including your heart—healthy and strong.
People who do not get enough calcium and vitamin D
throughout life have an increased chance of having thin and brittle bones
(osteoporosis) in their later years. Thin and brittle
bones break easily and can lead to serious injuries. This is why it is
important for you to get enough calcium and vitamin D as a child and as an adult. It helps
keep your bones strong as you get older and protects against possible
Your body also uses vitamin D to help your muscles absorb
calcium and work well. If your muscles don't get enough calcium, then they can
cramp, hurt, or feel weak. You may have long-term (chronic) muscle aches and
pains. Getting enough vitamin D helps prevent these problems.
Children who don't get enough vitamin D may not grow as much as others their
age. They also have a chance of getting a rare disease called
rickets, which causes weak bones.
What is the recommended daily amount of calcium and vitamin D?
Calcium should always be taken along with vitamin D, because the body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium.
Recommended calcium and vitamin D by age1, 2
| Age|| Recommended calcium intake (milligrams
a day)||Recommended vitamin D intake (international units a day)|
|Males 51-70 years||1,000||600|
|Females 51-70 years||1,200||600|
|71 and older ||1,200||800|
Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need the same amount of calcium
and vitamin D as other women their age.
Who may not get enough calcium and vitamin D?
Most people get enough calcium and vitamin D. Many foods are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, and your body uses sunshine to make its own vitamin D. From age 9 through 18, girls need more calcium from foods to meet the daily recommended intake. If they cannot get enough calcium from foods, a calcium supplement may be needed.
Blood tests for vitamin D can check your vitamin D level. But there is no standard normal range used by all laboratories. The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends a blood level of 20 ng/mL of vitamin D for healthy bones. And most people in the United States and Canada meet this goal.3
Things that reduce how much vitamin D
your body makes include:
- Dark skin, such as many African Americans
- Age, especially if you are older than
- Digestive problems, such as
- Liver and kidney