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Saturday, October 27, 2007

You Need More Vitamin D with Your Calcium

Earlier claims that calcium could prevent or even cure osteoporosis are now thought to be overblown. That doesn't mean that calcium is not important or that Americans, especially women, are getting sufficient calcium in their diets. All studies I've seen suggest that woman of all ages, from teens to seniors, are short on calcium.

It's true that you don't need to eat dairy products to get calcium in your diet. It's also true that without dairy products, most people find that the vegetable sources of calcium are not their favorite foods to eat in large quantities.

And large quantities are necessary. The National Academy of Sciences, from whom the following chart is taken, raised its estimates for the recommended amounts of calcium.



It's even worse than that. Calcium is no good unless your body can process it properly. One way to help your body do that is to take Vitamin D along with the calcium. Why? The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) says:

The relationship between calcium absorption and vitamin D is similar to that of a locked door and a key. Vitamin D is the key that unlocks the door and allows calcium to leave the intestine and enter the bloodstream. Vitamin D also works in the kidneys to help resorb calcium that otherwise would be excreted.

And the amount of recommended Vitamin D has also been increased.
According to NOF recommendations, adults under age 50 need 400-800 IU of vitamin D[sub]3[/sub] daily, and adults age 50 and older need 800 – 1,000 IU of vitamin D[sub]3[/sub] daily. Vitamin D[sub]3[/sub] is the form of vitamin D that best supports bone health. It is also called cholecalciferol. Vitamin D can also be obtained from fortified milk, egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver and supplements.

If you do want to supplement your calcium, a calcium + Vitamin D pill is helpful. You don't have to look for a pill that contains the entire recommended amount if you are getting a good amount already in your diet. Nor do you have to take the calcium and the vitamin D in one pill. A separate Vitamin D pill or just getting daily sunshine on your bare skin will give you the Vitamin D you need.

On the other hand, there's no need to pay lots of money for Vitamin D pills when you can find calcium + D pills for about the same price as calcium alone. They're a good investment. Remember that store brand pills from major supermarkets, discount stores, and pharmacies should be as good as brand name pills and for much less money.

While most people have too little calcium, true Vitamin D deficiency is rare, about 1 in 5000 people. However, it can be ten times as prevalent in the northern states where people can't get their bare skin into the skin for long periods. If you're not getting into the sun, especially if you're elderly, a Vitamin D supplement is a wise idea no matter how much calcium you eat.

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