Calcium and Vitamin D Deficiencies

Understanding Calcium and Vitamin D Deficiencies

Calcium and vitamin D deficiencies can cause serious health issues. Without adequate amounts of these two nutrients, our bodies can’t maintain proper mineral content in our bones, weaken immunity, impair nerve functioning, reduce muscle strength, and cause other problems.

Calcium is a mineral found in a variety of foods. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin synthesized through the skin’s exposure to sunlight. Together, they are essential for healthy bones, joint function, and muscle health.

Why Calcium and Vitamin D Deficiencies Are Common

Many Americans have inadequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D. This is due in part to changing dietary habits, decreased sunlight exposure, and less healthy dietary choices.

  • More people are opting for convenience foods, which tend to be lower in calcium and vitamin D.
  • People are spending less time explicitly exposing their skin to sunlight.
  • Some people adopt vegan or vegetarian diets, which can be low in these nutrients.
  • Calcium and vitamin D deficiencies can be caused by genetic disorders, medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, and some medications.

What Your Body Needs

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium for adults aged 19-50 is 1,000 mg per day, or 1,200 mg for adults 50 or older. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) for most healthy adults and 800 IU for those over the age of 70.

Where to Get Calcium and Vitamin D

Fortunately, there are many ways to get enough calcium and vitamin D each day. Here are some suggestions:

  • Eat lots of dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and Swiss chard. These are rich sources of both calcium and vitamin D.
  • Drink calcium-fortified plant milks or soy fortified with vitamin D.
  • Make sure to include plenty of fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, herring, and mackerel in your meals. These contain both calcium and vitamin D.
  • Take a daily multivitamin to meet your nutritional needs.
  • Spend 10-15 minutes per day in direct sunlight for vitamin D synthesis.

By following these guidelines, you can make sure that you’re getting adequate intakes of both calcium and vitamin D, which are essential for your overall health.