Did you know that calcium and vitamin D work hand-in-hand to support your bone health?
It’s important to look after our bone health to help prevent osteoporosis. By getting enough calcium and vitamin D, we can help keep our bones strong and reduce our osteoporosis risk.
What do calcium and vitamin D do?
The main role of calcium in the body is to keep our bones and teeth strong. It’s also involved in the functioning of our blood, heart, muscles and nervous system. Vitamin D further supports our bone health by improving calcium absorption and helping to maintain blood calcium levels.
How do we get them?
You can find calcium in dairy foods, soy, tofu, fish (with bones), leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds and calcium-fortified products.
Small amounts of vitamin D are found in oily fish, eggs and fortified foods. However, the main source of vitamin D is from the sun. It’s produced by our bodies when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. When it comes to sun exposure, it is important to follow the guidelines (as pictured) around UV, as excessive exposure can lead to increased likelihood of skin cancers.
What happens if we don’t get enough?
In Australia, only one in four females and one in two males are meeting the recommended daily intake of calcium from food, while more than 30% of Australians are vitamin D deficient.
If we do not get enough calcium in our diets, our body takes calcium from our bones to use. If our calcium intake is inadequate long-term, our bones can become brittle and osteoporosis can develop. Similarly, if we become vitamin D deficient, we are at a higher risk of bone fractures as well as bone and joint pain.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that to get the daily recommended intake of calcium, men (19-70 years) and women (19-50 years) will need 2.5 serves of dairy a day. For men aged 70+ and women aged 50+, these recommended daily servings go up to 3.5 and four, respectively.
A single serve of dairy could look like:
- a 250mL glass of milk
- two slices of cheddar cheese (40g)
- 200g of yogurt
- half a cup of ricotta
For vegans or people who avoid milk products, the Guidelines recommend consuming alternative calcium-fortified products and to see a health professional about whether you need to take supplements.
So why not take the first step to improve your bone health today, by taking a walk outside and enjoying a calcium-rich snack such as a tub of yoghurt or a handful of nuts.
- Read about how to exercise for healthy bones.
- CBHS Better Living offers a range of programs to cover a wide variety of health concerns and challenges, including low bone density, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. The program can provide you with expert guidance and support to self-manage your health challenges, with no out-of-pockets for members on Hospital or package covers. See more about CBHS Better Living.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified Health Care Professional.