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Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D and Calcium?

By Amanda Gardner
WebMD Feature

Getting enough vitamin D and calcium are two of the best things you can do to keep your bones healthy. 

These two nutrients work together to make you less likely to break a bone or get osteoporosis, a disease that weakens them.

"If we have adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, it really can help with keeping bones strong," says Heather Miller, PharmD, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

How Much Vitamin D and Calcium Do You Need?

Vitamin D is measured in international units (IU). The Institute of Medicine recommends getting this much vitamin D every day:

  • Adults ages 19-70: 600 IU daily
  • Adults older than 70: 800 IU daily

Some experts recommend taking more vitamin D. But the Institute of Medicine (IOM) says that higher levels haven't been shown to be better. The IOM is a nonprofit organization that gives expert, evidence-based advice on public health issues to policy makers and health professionals.

For calcium, the daily recommendations vary by age and gender:

  • Newborns to 6 months: 200 milligrams
  • Babies 7-12 months: 260 milligrams
  • Kids 1-3: 700 milligrams
  • Kids 4-8: 1,000 milligrams
  • Kids and teens 9-18: 1,300 milligrams
  • Adults 19-50: 1,000 milligrams
  • Adult men 51-70: 1,000 milligrams
  • Adult women 51-70: 1,200 milligrams
  • All adults 71 and older: 1,200 milligrams
  • Pregnant/breastfeeding women: 1,000 milligrams
  • Pregnant teens: 1,300 milligrams

How Can You Get Vitamin D and Calcium?

You can get calcium from dairy foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Calcium is also naturally found in plant foods including broccoli, kale, and Chinese cabbage. Some foods have added calcium, like orange juice and breakfast cereals.

Most adults can get the recommended 1000 mgs over the course of a day by eating a packet of fortified oatmeal, a cup of calcium-fortified orange juice, a cup of yogurt and half a cup of cooked spinach.

Many foods have vitamin D, including:

  • Salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and shrimp
  • Egg yolks
  • Beef liver
  • Mushrooms
  • Cod and fish liver oils
  • Foods with added vitamin D, such as milk and some cereals, yogurts, and orange juices

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