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.
A 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.