November is osteoporosis month so it’s a great time to think about your bones. Did you know that 25% of women and 13% of men over 50 have osteoporosis? Calcium and vitamin D are bone-strengthening nutrients: make sure you are getting enough!
Calcium is absorbed from the foods we eat and used by the body for a number of vital processes that keep your heart, nerves and muscles working properly. It is also needed by bones to maintain their density and strength. If there is not enough available in the blood from your diet the body will “steal” calcium from bones. This bone loss may not have obvious symptoms but over time bones will become porous and fragile.
Some food sources of calcium include:
Vitamin D helps increase the absorption of calcium by 30 to 80%. Newer research suggests that vitamin D is also important for preventing certain cancers, multiple sclerosis and diabetes, among other chronic conditions. Many researchers now recommend 1000 IU of vitamin D per day. Generally, food is not a good source of vitamin D. Also, as Canadians we do not get enough sun exposure to naturally produce enough of the sunshine vitamin.
What about supplements?
- Take a vitamin D supplement of at least 1000 IU daily.
- Anyone not able to meet the recommended intake of calcium from food (see Table) should take a calcium supplement.
- Only 600 mg elemental calcium can be absorbed at one time so split your dose if are taking more than 600mg at one time.
- Choose any form of calcium that works well for you.
- Calcium carbonate is better absorbed with food while calcium citrate can be taken at any time.
- Choose a supplement with a D.I.N, N.P.N, or G.P. number as these are tested for quality and lead content.
Are you interested in learning more about the health benefits of a balanced diet? Check out Copeman’s definitive guide to