Vitamin D and Calcium work as a team promoting bone heath and providing health benefits to the entire body. Let’s take a look at these two vital nutrients and see what they do for you.
Vitamin D helps your body to utilize many vitamins and minerals effectively. If you consume enough other vitamin and minerals, they may not be able to work properly unless adequate amounts of vitamin D are present.
You probably know that vitamin D is needed for bone health. Did you know that Vitamin D helps calcium build up in your bones in order to make them solid and strong? It helps your body absorb calcium better from your digestive system, too.
Children who do not get enough vitamin D may develop rickets, a serious condition characterized by deformed, weak bones. Adults may suffer from a condition called osteomalacia, which is characterized by softening of the bones.
Vitamin D prevents bleeding and bruising. It aids in clot formation in the event of injury.
This important nutrient helps maintain proper fluid and electrolyte balance of body fluids and helps every chemical reaction within your body to work optimally.
Vitamin D helps to prevent muscle tightness, spasms and cramps. It also aids the entire musculo-skeletal system, not just your bones.
How To Get Vitamin D Naturally
Vitamin D is available from cereals, juices and breads, although you must guard against processed ingredients. Dairy products are rich sources of vitamin D.
Getting adequate sunshine is the best way to obtain vitamin D. People in cold dark climates may not get enough sunlight to manufacture natural vitamin D adequately.
While sun protection is important for other health reasons, sun block reduces the body’s ability to form vitamin D. Fortunately, just 15 or 20 minutes of sunlight may provide your body with the tools it needs to create vitamin D.
Experts recommend that adults under age 70 consume 600-800 IUs of Vitamin D each day. People aged 70 and over need 800 IU each day. Most multivitamins contain vitamin D. Do not take excessive amounts of supplemental vitamin D as it is a fat soluble vitamin which may accumulate in your tissues and cause health problems.
Benefits Of Calcium
Like vitamin D, calcium helps form and maintain healthy bones, teeth, muscles and connective tissues.
Calcium has a calming effect on the entire body. It is critical for nerves to function well. Calcium reduces irritability, especially when due to hormonal changes. It promotes healthy sleep patterns.
Did you know that adequate levels of calcium are needed in your blood stream to maintain a healthy blood pressure?
In conjunction with Vitamin D, calcium helps wounds heal by stopping bleeding.
Calcium is involved in many bodily functions. It aids digestive health. By helping your body to maintain a healthy digestive system, your immune system benefits as well. Calcium helps to protect your body from colon and breast cancer development.
What Foods Contain Calcium?
You probably know that dairy products contain calcium. All forms of cow’s milk contain similar amounts of calcium. If using milk substitutes, such as soy or rice milk, read product labels carefully, as the amounts of calcium they contain vary greatly – and ingredients could contain chemicals and additives. (Also, most soybeans in America are genetically modified.) If you have a hard time digesting milk, but want to consume dairy products, try yogurt or buttermilk. Fermented dairy products contain good supplies of calcium, and are often easier to digest than unfermented dairy products. If you use products which are designed to help you cope with lactose intolerance, be assured that they do not interfere with calcium absorption.
Cheeses are also good sources of calcium. Hard cheeses generally contain more flavor and calcium per ounce than soft cheeses.
Several studies have shown that the availability and usability of plant-based calcium is equal to or greater than calcium from other sources. Dark, green, leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, and dandelion greens contain easily absorbed, top quality calcium which contains fewer calories than dairy products. Some other green vegetables contain oxalic acid, which interferes with nutrient absorption. If you cook spinach, chard and other greens which contain oxalic acid, the acid is destroyed and the calcium in these greens is bioavailable as well.
Soybeans and soy products are good sources of calcium. Read product labels for specific amounts. (There are organic soybeans, although you may have to hunt.)
Rich in nutrients, canned mackerel, salmon, herring, and sardines are great, inexpensive calcium sources. In addition, these fish products contain healthy fatty acids and protein. Seaweeds and shellfish are good marine sources of calcium too.
Nuts are good sources of calcium. Almonds are low in fat and contain a high percentage other nutrients as well.
Limit your consumption of salt, unrefined sugars and soda, as they promote calcium loss.
If you choose to take a calcium supplement, take one that contains vitamin D. I prefer supplements which also contain magnesium, manganese and zinc.
Do not buy inexpensive calcium supplements. They often contain poor quality calcium which cannot be absorbed by the body. I like bio-chelated forms for maximum effectiveness. Calcium citrate and calcium gluconate are excellent choices.
Calcium supplements may be taken following two schedules. Some experts recommend that they be taken in divided amounts two or more times daily. If you suffer from sleep problems, you may find that taking calcium in the evening may improve your ability to rest.
In general, a minimum of 1000 mg. of calcium daily is needed by adults. Females over age 50 and males over age 70 require 1200 mg. daily. Check with your health care provider for specific recommendations based upon your health, family history, and diet.