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.
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:
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
Cod and fish liver oils
Foods with added vitamin D, such as milk and some cereals, yogurts, and orange juices
The average adult would get more than a day’s recommended vitamin D by eating just one small can of pink salmon.
Another source of vitamin D is the sun. Your body makes vitamin D from sunlight. But you need to wear sunscreen to protect your skin, and that blocks your body from making vitamin D. Also, it can be hard to make enough vitamin D from the winter sun, depending on where you live.
If you're not getting all the vitamin D and calcium you need from food, talk with your doctor about taking a multivitamin or supplements, says JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.