Why Calcium and Vitamin D is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Why Calcium and Vitamin D is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle

May 29, 2022

 

Our bodies need a variety of vitamins and minerals throughout our entire lifespan, but some vitamins and minerals are needed more during certain stages of life.  We need them for growth and development or to boost our immune system against unwanted microb visitors.  There is a reason why people live longer now than before and it's not just because medical has advanced. But it's also that we are eating better with proper nutrients as well as multivitamins available. Today, we want to focus on two particular vitamins that are essential to us as we get older and still want to be active. These two  are vitamin D and calcium, which is usually needed in much higher amounts during the later years of adulthood (age 70 and up). Here’s why these two nutrients are important, what deficiencies can cause, and the best sources.

 

Calcium and Vitamin D: Nutrient Synergy

vitamin D

Nutrient synergy is a fancy term that means vitamins and minerals work better together. One of the most well-known examples is probably vitamin C and iron: vitamin C helps our bodies absorb iron better, which is very important for those with an iron deficiency. Calcium and vitamin D are another example of nutrient synergy, which is why a lot of fortified foods contain both nutrients.

However, vitamin D and calcium also have a positive synergistic effect with vitamin K. This trio works together to build stronger bones (calcium), make sure the mineral is being absorbed so that it can do its job (vitamin D), and prevents too much of the mineral from building up in the body (vitamin K).

Importance of Calcium

Calcium is well-known for keeping bones and teeth strong and healthy, but it plays a vital role in a number of other bodily functions:

  • Aids in blood clotting
  • Decreases the risk of kidney stones
  • Helps muscles contract
  • May help prevent colorectal cancer
  • Possibly lowers blood pressure
  • Regulates normal heart rhythms
  • Supports nerve functions

Importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is also known for supporting bone health, which is one of the reasons why it’s always mentioned with calcium. Like calcium, its benefits don’t stop at bone health. Other benefits include:

  • Controls infections
  • Decreases cancer cell growth
  • May lower the risk of early mortality
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Supports heart health

 

Calcium and Vitamin D Deficiencies

exercise

One of the most well-known diseases caused by a calcium and vitamin D deficiency is osteoporosis, which is also known as “brittle bone disease”. As living creatures, our cells and tissues break down and get replaced. However, as we age, this replacement slows down, and osteoporosis is when bone tissues aren’t replaced as quickly as they’re broken down.

Osteoporosis is much more common in women, but can affect anyone over the age of 50. We reach our peak bone density around age 30, so it’s important that we make our bones stronger through diet, exercise, and an overall healthy lifestyle. Without doing so, we’re more at risk for fractures and broken bones.

This reality is especially dangerous for senior citizens, especially those in assisted living. Seniors in general are more at risk of a fall, with the majority of senior falls occurring inside of their home. These falls can seriously injure the elderly, and even lead to death. This is why all senior falls should be taken seriously, no matter where they occur.

Because vitamin K works synergistically with vitamin D and calcium, it’s important to note that a vitamin K deficiency affects the blood (inability for blood to clot correctly), and not so much the bones. Cruciferous veggies and leafy green veggies are both high in vitamin K.

 

Calcium and Vitamin D Sources

healthy meal

Many people take calcium and/or vitamin D supplements— and that’s fine if it’s been recommended by your doctor. However, it’s always best to increase your nutrient intake through food sources.

Calcium Sources

There’s two ways to get calcium: One way is through eating calcium-rich foods, and the other is from the calcium already stored in the bones. Obviously, it’s best to get calcium from food sources, and here are the best calcium-rich foods:

  • Almonds
  • Beans (navy and kidney)
  • Dairy products (yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.)
  • Fatty fish (sardines, salmon, etc.)
  • Leafy greens (turnip, spinach, mustard, kale, collards)
  • Winter squash

Vitamin D Sources

Surprisingly, few foods supply naturally high sources of vitamin D, which is why a lot of foods and drinks (e.g., milk) are fortified with vitamin D. Fortunately, our bodies are able to make vitamin D, and sunlight is great at helping us do this. Just remember to wear sunscreen and avoid too much sun exposure. Food-wise, you can find vitamin D in:

  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, cod, etc.)
  • Mushrooms

Getting enough calcium and vitamin D goes beyond having healthy and strong bones. To get the most benefits from these nutrients, look to food and natural sources (sunlight), and also increase your intake of vitamin K to avoid a buildup of calcium.



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