Calcium and Vitamin D

A report out of the Institute of Medicine has found that most Americans and Canadians get enough vitamin D and calcium in their diets, contrary to previous findings. The report used evidence from over 1,000 published studies to come to the conclusion that in general, people receive the appropriate daily intake of these two essential nutrients. According to the report, people between the ages of one and seventy require no more than 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day, while people over the age of seventy may need up to 800 IU. The report also suggested that people need between 700 and 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day depending upon their age.

While most North Americans do not get a sufficient amount of vitamin D from the food that they eat, according to the report, those same people usually have sufficient vitamin D in their blood. This is because exposure to sunlight promotes the production of vitamin D in the body. As long as people are in the sun for about 15 minutes per day, they should have enough vitamin D in their bodies.

The report did find that certain groups are at risk of not getting enough calcium, particularly girls between the ages of nine and eighteen and the elderly. Throughout the general population, however, calcium intake is not considered a major concern, according to the report.

While numerous studies on vitamin D have been performed, the results have been inconclusive as to the supposed benefits of consuming more vitamin D. The vitamin is important to healthy cells and has been suggested to help deter breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other forms of cancer.

The Role of Vitamin D in the Body

Calcium is the most common mineral in the body and is essential to blood clotting, muscle contraction, bone formation, and tooth formation. In fact, about 99% of the body’s calcium is stored within the teeth and the bones. The 1% of calcium that is left over is in the muscle, blood, and the fluid between cells. Appropriate levels of vitamin D are essential for the proper absorption of calcium, which is lost in small amounts from the body every day. If your body does not absorb enough calcium from the food that you eat, it replaces lost calcium by breaking down your bones, which is why proper intake of calcium is so important, particularly in growing children and older women who are prone to osteoporosis.