Science

Vitamin D and Calcium: the Dynamic Duo That Helps Support Bone Health*

3 min read

Learn how calcium and vitamin D team up to support bone health.
Learn how calcium and vitamin D team up to support bone health.

While it may take all the credit, calcium isn’t the only nutrient needed to support bone health. Instead, you might consider focusing on what we like to call calcium “helper” nutrients: vitamin K2, magnesium, boron and vitamin D all do a lot of heavy-lifting behind the scenes to help support calcium consumed through the diet.*

But let’s focus on vitamin D in particular, because this powerhouse nutrient deserves credit where credit is due. You probably know that vitamin D is important, and that due to a lack of sunlight (along with a few other factors), it can be difficult to get enough through both diet and sun. But do you know the specifics of how vitamin D helps support bone health?*(1)

Vitamin D helps support calcium.

The amount of calcium needed depends on age; women under the age of 50 need 1000 mg of calcium per day, while women over the age of 50 have a slightly higher recommended daily intake (1200 mg per day).* (2,3)

But the amount of calcium consumed doesn’t paint the full picture for bone health. Vitamin D aids with calcium absorption, so without enough of it, the foundation for bone health could use support from supplementation.*

The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is currently 15 mcg per day for men and women over 18, and 20 mcg for men and women over 70. However, research suggests that higher doses may be helpful in supporting vitamin D levels—especially for those of us who live in urban environments, have darker skin, and/or experience less exposure to the sun in general.* (4,5)

What’s an ideal way to get vitamin D and calcium?

Many people can meet their daily calcium needs by eating a diet that includes calcium-rich foods. Some ideas: (2)

  • Plain yogurt (400 mg of calcium/cup)
  • String cheese (200 mg/stick)
  • Feta cheese, crumbled (185 mg / ¼ cup)
  • Kidney beans (180 mg / ½ cup)
  • Collard greens, cooked (175 mg / ½ cup)
  • Low-fat cottage cheese (150 mg/cup)
  • Spinach, cooked (120 mg / ½ cup)
  • Frozen yogurt (105 mg / ½ cup)
  • Turnip greens, cooked (100 mg / ½ cup)

Milk (300 mg/cup) and calcium-fortified orange juice (350 mg/cup) can also help with daily calcium goals. Soy milk and fortified cereals may also be rich in calcium, but the nutrient content can vary widely between brands; make sure to read the labels to get an accurate picture of calcium in these products.*

Vitamin D, however, is a different story. There are food sources that are either fortified or naturally contain vitamin D (including egg yolks and fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, or sardines), most people don’t have enough of those foods in their diets to meet their daily requirements.*

But because vitamin D plays such a critical role in supporting bone health and helping the body to absorb calcium, getting enough of the nutrient is a must—which is why many people incorporate vitamin D supplements into their daily regimen.*

All of Ritual’s adult multivitamins are formulated with 50mcg (2000 IU per serving) of vitamin D3 to help meet your vitamin D needs. Better yet: Essential for Women was shown in 94 women to increase vitamin D levels over 12 weeks, significantly greater than placebo.*

References:

  1. Lite, Jordan. 2009, March 23. Vitamin D...in the U.S., study says. Scientific American. Retrieved from Scientific American
  2. UVA Nutrition, University of Virginia Health System. 2017 November. Calcium and Vitamin D. Retrieved from University of Virginia
  3. NIH…National Resource Center. Calcium and Vitamin D: Important At Every Age. Retrieved from National Institute of Health
  4. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Retrieved from National Institute of Health
  5. Talwar, SA; Aloia, JF; Pollock, S; Yeh, JK. 2007, December. Dose response to vitamin D supplementation… Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;86(6):1657-62. Retrieved from National Institute of Health

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