By Kristi Winkels, RDN, LD
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis.You can keep your bones strong by eating foods with calcium and vitamin D.
Calcium serves as a building block for strong bones and teeth but is also needed for the heart, muscles, and nerves to function properly. If you don't consume enough calcium-rich foods, your body will take what it needs from your bones causing them to weaken.
Dairy products are high in calcium - eat 3 servings a day to meet your daily needs. This includes 1 cup of milk or fortified milk substitute, 1 cup yogurt or 1.5 ounces of cheese. Non-dairy sources include leafy greens like kale and bok choy, almonds, sardines (canned with bones in it), canned salmon, tofu and chia seeds.
If you follow a vegan diet or have a dairy allergy or intolerance, you may need to take a calcium supplement. Calcium supplements are better absorbed when taken in doses of 500 mg or less.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium into the bones and is made by your body through sunlight exposure. Getting enough sunlight in the winter months can be difficult, therefore, it's important to get vitamin D through diet or supplements.
Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon, herring and mackerel and fortified foods like milk and plant-based milk substitutes
Vitamin D supplements come in two forms. Vitamin D3 is the most potent form and vitamin D2 is primarily from plant sources making it desirable for those following vegan diet. Calcium supplements often have vitamin D as well, but the amount is not usually enough to meet daily needs.
Do you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet? Calcium and vitamin D needs vary depending on your age and gender. See the table below to determine if you're meeting your individual needs.
|Women 19-50 years old||1000 milligrams|
|Women 51+ years old||1200 milligrams|
|Men 19-70 years old||1000 milligrams|
|Men 71+ years old||1200 milligrams|
|Adults to age 70||600 IU (15 micrograms)|
|Adults age 71+||800 IU (20 micrograms)|
Source: US Recommended Dietary Allowances, USDA