Health and Wellness

Vitamin D and Calcium: Your New Best Friends

Listen up ladies! You might want to add some more vitamin D and calcium in your life.  When it comes to bone health, calcium and vitamin D go hand in hand!  Calcium makes your bones stronger and you need vitamin D to help absorb calcium.

Tufts Medical Center Orthopaedic Surgeon Matthew Salzler, MD says, When thinking about their health, many young people focus on eating healthy and staying active, both of which are extremely important.  It is also important to think about long term bone health, as we reach our peak bone mass around age 30.  A healthy diet and weight bearing exercise helps our bones stay strong, but many people living in New England are deficient in Vitamin D and some are deficient in Calcium, key components of bone health.

Women especially need the dynamic duo thanks to our high risk for developing osteoporosis after menopause.  Osteoporosis is a bone disease that happens when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become super weak and could break from a fall or even from sneezing!  Yes, sneezing!

So what’s a girl to do?  Well, what you do in your 20’s and 30’s is key to helping you out later in life.  When you go through menopause you lose estrogen and that can cause a decline in your bone density!  “While most of us can get enough calcium from our diet, vitamin D can be trickier. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D – fatty fish and eggs are the exception,” says Dr. Niamh Carroll, primary care doctor at Tufts Medical Center.

Adding a daily supplement is not a bad idea either!  During the winter months when there is less sun exposure you may want to consider a vitamin D supplement,” adds Dr. Carroll. “The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 international units daily for adults through age 70 years and for children 1 to 18 years of age. For older adults, 800 units daily is recommended for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.”

Not convinced yet?  Well, here are 5 more reasons to add calcium and vitamin D to your life:

Boost your immune system.  In addition to helping against osteoporosis, vitamin D can help reduce your risk against cancer, multiple sclerosis, and even the flu!  Dr. Carroll suggests that pregnant women might want to talk to their doctors about vitamin D.  “There was a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that offspring of mothers with vitamin D deficiency during early pregnancy had an increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) as adults,” says Dr. Carroll.

Get happy.  Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.

Lose some fat.  A 2012 study that looked at the impact of supplementing with both calcium and vitamin D found that this supplementation led to an increase in abdominal fat loss.

Build muscle.  We all want legs like Beyonce right?  Well, vitamin D can help increase muscle, build strength and help with endurance.

Beautiful smile.  Vitamin D and calcium work together to help create a mouth full of strong teeth and healthy gums!  In one study of nearly 1,000 people, those who regularly ate dairy — milk, cheese and yogurt — were less likely to get gum disease. Also, a report from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research showed that taking calcium and vitamin D helps prevent tooth loss!

If you have questions about the importance of calcium and vitamin D, you can reach out to the doctors at Tufts Medical Center Primary Care Boston. Lastly, you can also get a simple, non-fasting blood test to determine your D levels and then work with your doctor to coordinate the needed supplementation to optimize calcium and vitamin D for you and your health.

Take care of yourself!

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About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Hockey mom, yoga enthusiast, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.