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 you need 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 ensure that your body is making the most of the calcium you’re getting through your 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), most of us don’t get enough of it. But do you know the specifics of how vitamin D helps support your bone health?*(1)

Without enough vitamin D, calcium can’t do its job as well.

Over 99 percent of the calcium in your body is found in your bones and teeth—and as such, you need calcium in order to keep your bones strong. The amount of calcium you need is going to depend on your 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 you’re consuming doesn’t paint the full picture for bone health. Vitamin D aids with calcium absorption, so without enough of it, your foundation for bone support might not be as strong as it could be.*

The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is currently 600 international units (IU) per day for women under the age of 70 and 800 IU per day for women over the age of 70. However, research suggests that higher doses may be necessary to maintain optimal 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 the best way to get vitamin D and calcium?

Many people can meet their daily calcium needs by eating a diet that includes calcium-rich foods. If you want to get enough calcium through diet alone, some of the best foods to introduce into your diet include (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 you hit your 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. Most people don’t spend enough time in the sun to get an adequate amount of vitamin D, and while 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. In fact, as many as three-quarters of Americans aren’t getting the recommended amount of Vitamin D (1).

But because vitamin D plays such a critical role in supporting bone health and helping your 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 vitamins contain 50mcg (2000 IU) of vitamin D3 to help meet your vitamin D needs. Better yet: Essential for Women was clinically shown in 94 women to increase vitamin D levels over 12 weeks, as compared to no change in a placebo group.*

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 among postmenopausal African American women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;86(6):1657-62. Retrieved from National Institute of Health

Share