Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Osteoporosis Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Do You Get Enough Vitamin D and Calcium?

By Amanda Gardner
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD

Vitamin D and calcium can be your best friends if you want to keep your bones healthy. Get the right amount and you'll be less likely to break one or get a bone-weakening disease called osteoporosis.

To figure out how much vitamin D is right for you, you need to get familiar with something called an "international unit," or IU for short. That's how vitamin D is measured.

Recommended Related to Osteoporosis

The Truth About Vitamin D: Vitamin D Food Sources

Which foods contain vitamin D? Surprisingly few foods contain vitamin D -- unless it's added to the food. That's because your body is built to get vitamin D through your skin (from sunlight) rather than through your mouth (by food). But once your body has enough, it doesn't matter whether you got it through your skin or through your stomach. There are three vitamin D super foods: Salmon (especially wild-caught) Mackerel (especially wild-caught; eat up to 12 ounces a week of a variety...

Read the The Truth About Vitamin D: Vitamin D Food Sources article > >

The Institute of Medicine, a nonprofit organization that gives expert advice on health, recommends that adults age 19 to 70 get 600 IU a day. If you're older than 70, you need 800 IU a day.

For calcium, the amount you need depends on your age and sex.

  • All 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 Do You Get Vitamin D and Calcium?

You can load up on calcium from a lot of different kinds of food. For example, add some dairy to your diet, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Or try veggies like broccoli, kale, and Chinese cabbage.

Some foods, like orange juice or cereal, are "calcium-fortified," which means the nutrient is added in by the manufacturer before you buy it.

Want a simple plan to get the recommended 1,000 milligrams a day? You can do it if you eat a packet of fortified oatmeal, a cup of fortified orange juice, a cup of yogurt, and half a cup of cooked spinach.

You have a lot of food choices to get the vitamin D you need. Try things like:

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

It's not hard to reach your daily goal. You can get more than a day's recommended amount if you eat just one small can of pink salmon.

Another source of the nutrient is the sun. Your body makes it 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 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.

Today on WebMD

Women working out and walking with weights
Reduce bone loss and build stronger muscles.
Chinese cabbage
Calcium-rich foods to add to your diet.
 
woman stretching
Get the facts on osteoporosis.
Porous bone
Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.
 
senior woman
Article
Woman holding plate of brocolli
Article
 
wrist xray
Quiz
Superfood for Bones
Slideshow
 
mature woman
Article
sunlight in hands
Article
 
man and woman in front of xray
Quiz
woman with dumbbells
Article