The Importance of Calcium & Vitamin D ...

The Importance of Calcium & Vitamin D

Calcium is found in foods like milk, leafy green vegetables and soybeans. Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium, is found in a limited number of foods and is made by your skin while you are in the sun.

Calcium and your body:
  • Your body uses calcium every day for activities such as muscle contraction, blood clotting and nerve function.
  • When it doesn't get enough, it may take the necessary amount from your bones, weakening them.
  • Our bodies build up calcium in our bones efficiently until we are about 30 years old. After that, our bone mass tends to decline.
  • This problem is compounded even further during menopause when a decrease in estrogen levels accelerates bone loss for women.
  • That's why it's important to maintain a diet with enough calcium and vitamin D.
Maintaining good bone health:
Scientific studies have shown that regular exercise and a calcium-rich diet can help build and maintain good bone health* and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It's important to maintain a diet with enough calcium and vitamin D, together with other important bone-healthy nutrients, including phosphorus and magnesium. Yet nearly 80% of American women do not consume the amount of calcium recommended to help maintain healthy bones. The Surgeon General also notes that many people, especially elderly individuals, don't get enough vitamin D from sunshine and diet alone. Foods such as fortified milk contain about 100 IU of vitamin D, while Caltrate® offers several formulas that contain 400 IU per tablet.

After your mid-30s, you begin to slowly lose bone mass.

The Importance of Calcium & Vitamin D
Chart: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The 2004 Surgeon General's Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis:
"What It Means To You." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 
Should I give my child vitamin D supplements?
Consult your pediatric provider about this, but I vote yes to 400 IUs /day, unless it’s clear your child is getting enough through his/her diet and/or sun exposure (or unless s/he needs more due to a chronic disease or medication).

What if my infant is breast fed?Then it’s all the more important to add a daily supplement of vitamin D to avoid the problems associated with inadequate intake and poor sunlight exposure.
What if my baby is formula fed?
In that case there is no need to supplement since all formulas sold in the United States contain extra vitamin D.
How will I know if my baby might have rickets?
Rickets – due to inadequate vitamin D over a long time – causes soft bones. Mostly it is seen in dark-skinned, breast-fed babies with little direct sun exposure who are not taking supplemental vitamins. Rickets is diagnosed by an X-ray, at which time there may be excessive bowing of the legs and/or swelling of the wrists and ankles.
Should I give more than the recommended 400 IUs?
Vitamin D is great stuff, but there is an important catch: Too much can be harmful. Unlike vitamin C which is just peed out if taken in excess, vitamin D is stored in our fat tissues. Too much can lead to an overdose and serious medical problems, so it’s important to strike the right balance.

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