Bone up on calcium and vitamin D

Calcium and vitamin D are two key nutrients to building and maintaining strong, healthy bones.  On November 30, 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies released new recommendations for both calcium and vitamin D. 

With proper diet our needs for both calcium and vitamin D can be acquired from the foods we eat.  Our bodies can also produce vitamin D with exposure to sunlight as UV rays trigger vitamin D production in the skin.  However, when establishing the new recommended levels for vitamin D, the IOM assumed minimal sun exposure.  This was in concern for the northern-most climates and the use of sunscreens that block UV rays.

New Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI’s):  released 11/30/10

Please be aware that the above recommendations are for the general public.  Medical conditions can impact absorption of both calcium and vitamin D.  Individuals with chronic diseases need to further discuss requirements with their physician and registered dietitian.

It is important to understand that diet and lifestyle can affect your ability to meet the  requirements for vitamin D and calcium.   Without adequate intakes, deficiencies can lead to health problems such as rickets or osteomalacia (softening of the bones). 

Food Sources of Vitamin D:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Cod Liver Oil = 1360 IU
  • 3 ½  ounces cooked Salmon = 360 IU
  • 3 ½ ounces of tuna, canned in oil = 235 IU
  • 8 ounces of Vitamin D fortified milk (non-fat, 1%, 2%, whole) = 100 IU
  • Fortified ready to eat cereals = amount varies

Food Sources of Calcium:

  • 8 ounces Plain Yogurt = 400-450 mg
  • 1 ½ ounces of Cheddar, Mozzarella, Provolone, Swiss Cheese = 300-340 mg
  • 8 ounces milk (whole, 2%, 1%, non-fat) = 275 – 300 mg
  • 3 ounces canned Pink Salmon = 181 mg
  • ½ cup cooked spinach or collards = 146 – 178 mg
  • Fortified ready to eat cereals – amount varies

Often times when  a diet does not include dairy products it is difficult to meet recommended guidelines for both vitamin D and calcium, therefore further vitamin supplementation may be necessary.  Please discuss with your physician and/or registered dietitian. 

More about calcium and vitamin D for your children.

Guest Blogger, Michelle Degraaf, RD, CSP, LD
Michelle is a certified specialist in pediatric nutrition and clinical dietitian specialising in Cystic Fibrosis and Pulmonary.
Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition

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