A Vitamin D and Calcium Primer

What do you know about calcium and vitamin D?

When it comes to nutrition, the media often finds an ingredient, supplement or product that steals the spotlight for a period of time.  Sometimes the ingredient is lambasted to the point where it becomes an outcast at warp speed, this happened with partially hydrogenated oils (man made trans fats).  Other times, the news is good.   And this is what has happened with vitamin D.  This vitamin has gone from the kid at the back of the class to center stage in a short period of time.  

Why Vitamin D along with Calcium?

When it comes to bone health, many of us automatically think of calcium and milk/dairy.  However, calcium alone can’t do its job without adequate vitamin D.  Think of vitamin D as the gatekeeper to bone tissue, it aids in the absorption of calcium.  Many calcium supplements now come fortified with vitamin D to make supplementation easier for consumers.

Vitamin D may also decrease our risk for certain types of cancer.  Most notably, colon, prostate and breast cancer.  And, a deficiency in vitamin D can lead to osteopenia, osteoporosis, chronic pain, muscle weakness, fractures and autoimmune diseases.  A recent U.S. study in the June 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that Vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of heart attacks in men.

We need sunlight – but in moderation

Vitamin D is manufactured in the skin upon exposure to sunlight.  Past recommendations have indicated that just a little exposure – say 15 minutes a day, will give us all the sunlight we need to make vitamin D.  However, recent studies have shown that many of us fall short.  Even people living in climates sunny throughout the year like southern Arizona.  How can this be the case?  Individuals with darker skin and older individuals just don’t produce vitamin D as well as fair-skinned, younger people do.  And, people who live in less than sunny climates simply aren’t exposed to the sun’s rays often enough.  Lastly, many people have had skin cancer (basal and squamous cell carcinoma is on the rise) and are avid sun block users and therefore don’t manufacture adequate vitamin D.

Calcium – our bones needs it!

Now, on to calcium. Aside from its role in bone health, calcium also aids in:  muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion, hormone secretion, heartbeat regulation, conducting nerve impulses and blot clotting.  And, all of these functions are considered more vital than keeping our bones strong.  So, when we fall short on our calcium intake our body leaches it from our bones. If this process occurs frequently, over time we end up with weak, porous bones, osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Make sure you get enough!

It’s clear we need to take in adequate levels of calcium and vitamin D daily.  Calcium is more easily obtained from foods, especially dairy foods.  Greens like spinach are often noted for their calcium but, this calcium is bound to the oxalic acid present in these greens and therefore, not readily absorbed.  The same thing goes for calcium that is fortified into grain products – it is bound to phytic acid and not easily absorbed in the body.  Vitamin D is a bit harder to find in foods.  Salmon, mackerel, canned tuna, canned sardines, and milk are your best options.  If you don’t drink 4 glasses of milk a day or a combination of other dairy and the fish mentioned above, try a calcium + Vitamin D supplement.

liquid calcium and Vitamin D supplement is very easy way to get what you need each day.  You can take it all at once or split up the dosage.  Calcium is best absorbed if you take 500 mg at a time, usually morning and evening doses.

SEE ALSO: What You Need to Know About Calcium and Vitamin D and  What You Need to Know About Osteoporosis


Vitamins & Minerals Work Better Together


We like to think of our social communities as close, helpful and inter-connected.  We rely on one another for all sorts of daily help.  Kids help moms into the house with groceries.  Friends help each other by listening and giving support.  Friends and family help make special events successful and fun with a little help from everyone. 

Vitamins support each other in many of  the same ways.


Different vitamin molecules interact with each other in specific body processes and biological circumstances in ways that promote and actively assist your body’s best use of each vitamin.  


Did you know…


  • Vitamin C is required for proper protein metabolism and also improves absorption of Iron from plant-based foods


  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is needed to help your body convert Vitamin B6 and Folate into their active forms


  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) helps your body best use lots of other vitamins, including Vitamin B2


  • Vitamin B6 is necessary for the proper absorption of Vitamin B12 and helps Iron function properly in your body through its role in proper red blood cell production


  • Folate and B12 work together to produce SAM-e (s-adenosylmethionine)


It is very important to have a well-rounded vitamin and mineral program if you already have nutrient absorption issues or know you’re deficient in certain vitamins or minerals so they can help each other work within your body to give you the best each nutrient has to offer.



Being Aware of and Battling the Winter Blues


This has got to be one of the harshest winters on record (again!) – repeated snow storms, drought then flooding rains in other areas and colder temperatures overall in most parts of the country.


Because the winter weather has been more severe, the conditions are ripe for seeing more people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or winter depression and their symptoms being more severe as well.  Generally, the winter doldrums last from around October through April, and your body responds normally to the dwindling daylight hours and cooler weather.  Most of us have experienced a day or two of feeling trapped in winters fist.


The severity of your sensitivity to winter’s trials are balanced over many factors:


Geography – where you live matters.  If you’re in the northern states, you’re likely to feel the winter blues more acutely.


Genetics – A predisposition to melancholy or depression will certainly matter in how you are affected during the winter months.


Personal Brain Chemistry – Which is alterable by so many different factors – kinds of food you eat, any vitamin deficiencies you may face, any medication you may be on – even winter gets to play its part in altering your brain chemicals – specifically melatonin production increases over winter, in an effort to try and regulate your sleep/wake cycle – and in some cases, your body just can’t get it right.


Illness – As we are already subjected to colder, stormier weather, and less daylight – winter also corresponds with cold and flu season – and there have been some links made between suffering from being sick kicking off a round of melancholy as well.


If you find yourself wondering what you can do to feel better, happier and more energized during the winter months, take a look at these options:


Light, Light and More Light – whether it means bundling up and meeting the brisk but sunny day head-on for a short while each mid-day, or installing a sun-mimicking light in your breakfast nook or at your desk, or perhaps both, do try and get as much daylight exposure as possible. (no, indoor fluorescent lights don’t count – they don’t have the same effect as specialized lamps designed to mimic the positive aspects of sunshine)


Get your Vitamin D and all your other normal levels checked.  If you are deficient in Vitamin D, you could be fighting an uphill battle working for a good mood in winter.  An adequate vitamin D level is important to mood and mental health.  SEE ALSO:  Lift Your Mood with Vitamin D This Winter!


If you know you suffer in winter, can plan your vacation in January or February to a sunny climate?  Instead of a summer vacation, make it a winter vacation instead!