One of the goals of my basal evolution has been to better understand vitamins and nutrients.
Exactly what they are, what they do, and how much is required…
I hope I can also help you better understand Calcium and Vitamin D after reading this post.
To begin, a brief description of the terms/issues that will be discussed in this post:
What is the Dietary Reference Intake?
Introduced to Canada and the U.S. in 1997, the DRI is a list of recommendations written by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the U.S. National Academy of Science.
How is it different than the RDA?
The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) was developed during WWII (approved in 1941) to monitor the nutrition of those involved with the war, and ultimately our “national defense.” The RDA was revised 9 years later to include number of servings of food groups. It now used to determine the RDV (Recommended Daily Value) which you see printed on food labels (seen below).
With that said, the DRI combines multiple recommendations, such as: EAR (Estimated Average Requirement), RDA, AI (Adequate Intake), and UL (Tolerable Upper Intake Levels).
The DRIs now replace the RDAs.
The current DRI chart can be found here.
An interesting, historical chart can be found here . It shows the differences in RDAs and DRIs for vitamins from 1968-present.
As you may have already guessed, the DRIs have changed and probably will continue to change as we learn more and more everyday.
Now continuing on with the BFFs…Calcium and Vitamin D…
What is Calcium?
Calcium, is a chemical element, known as “Ca” on the periodic table. It is essential for all living organisms and is one of the most abundant nutrients in your body. Calcium joins with phosphorus to form “Calcium phosphate” which gives strength and formation our bone health.
Where is it found in my body?
99% of your calcium is found in your bones and teeth.
Why is Calcium important?
The most popular reason: it aids in bone health and formation. Your body is constantly growing and repairing bone cells and tissue. It also helps your nerve, heart, and muscle systems work properly. Finally, it aids in the prevention of osteoporosis (currently affects 20 million United States Citizens).
Does my body make Calcium on its own?
Unfortunately not. That is why it is important to eat the foods listed below.
What are some Calcium rich foods?
(see the end of this post for a chart with specifics of certain foods listed)
Dairy Products: (Yogurt, Cheese, Milk)
Greens: Kale, Spinach, Okra, Collard Greens, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kelp, turnip greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, swiss chard.
Fish: Salmon, Sardines, Perch, Rainbow Trout
Other: Soy beans, White beans, Tofu, Molasses, almonds, Brewer’s Yeas, bok soy, calcium-fortified foods (calcium was artificially added).
See chart at bottom of post for specifics.
Can you get too much Calcium?
Yes. Levels over 3,000 mg per day are considered excessive. This can result in bone calcification (unwanted calcium in cells other than bones).
What is my DRI for Calcium?
See chart below.
(The IOM released new DRIs for Calcium and Vitamin D in November, 2010.)
Why are Calcium and Vitamin D BFFs?
Calcium needs other nutrients (magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin D and K) in order to be absorbed. We are going to specifically look at Vitamin D. When you are deficient in Vitamin D, your bone health is directly affected. I believe you should try to get your vitamins, nutrients, minerals from the foods you consume. However, if supplementation is necessary, try avoid the hard pills (chews/soft pills are better for absorption), and look for something that contains Calcium AND Vitamin D.
What is a Vitamin?
Something that must be received through diet since it cannot be naturally made, in large quantities, by an organism.
What is Vitamin D?
Technically, it is not a “vitamin” (see definition above), as all mammals can produce Vitamin D from sunlight. That is why Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin.” There are two types; Vitamin D2 (made by plants) and Vitamin D3 (made by humans).
Vitamin D helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. New research shows that it might also prevent autoimmune diseases and decrease risks of certain cancers.
What are some foods rich in Vitamin D?
Not very many! Egg yolks (when the hens have had time in the sun!!), fatty fish (Salmon, Tuna, Mackrel), beef liver, cheese.
Only 20% of the RDV of Vitamin D is obtained from the foods we eat.
What is the best source of Vitamin D?
The sun! Your body naturally produced Vitamin D on its own. (For reasons known, sun exposure should be limited to about 30 minutes a day.) This is important to remember in the winter months (for those of us who live in colder climates).
How much Vitamin D and Calcium do I need per day? A generic chart is listed below. Click here to estimate your RDI (using the DRI) based on your age, weight, height, etc.
So what does this chart look like on my plate? Here are a few foods and their DVs.
|World’s Healthiest Foods ranked as quality sources of
|Basil||2 tsp||7.0||59.16||5.9||15.1||very good|
|Turnip Greens||1 cup cooked||28.8||197.28||19.7||12.3||excellent|
|Thyme||2 tsp||7.7||52.92||5.3||12.3||very good|
|Oregano||2 tsp||9.5||57.49||5.7||10.8||very good|
|Spinach||1 cup cooked||41.4||244.80||24.5||10.6||excellent|
|Collard Greens||1 cup cooked||49.4||266.00||26.6||9.7||excellent|
|Dill||2 tsp||12.8||63.67||6.4||8.9||very good|
|Mustard Greens||1 cup cooked||21.0||103.60||10.4||8.9||excellent|
|Cinnamon||2 tsp||12.8||52.10||5.2||7.3||very good|
|Sea Vegetables||0.25 cup||8.6||33.60||3.4||7.0||good|
|Blackstrap Molasses||2 tsp||32.1||117.56||11.8||6.6||very good|
|Cheese||1 oz-wt||72.0||221.69||22.2||5.5||very good|
|Yogurt||1 cup||154.3||448.35||44.8||5.2||very good|
|Swiss Chard||1 cup cooked||35.0||101.50||10.2||5.2||very good|
|Kale||1 cup cooked||36.4||93.60||9.4||4.6||very good|
|Milk||1 cup||122.0||292.80||29.3||4.3||very good|
|Milk – Goat||1 cup||168.4||326.96||32.7||3.5||very good|
|Romaine Lettuce||2 cups||16.0||31.02||3.1||3.5||good|
|Sesame Seeds||0.25 cup||206.3||351.00||35.1||3.1||good|
|Cabbage||1 cup raw||17.5||28.00||2.8||2.9||good|
|Fennel||1 cup raw||27.0||42.63||4.3||2.8||good|
|Broccoli||1 cup raw||30.9||42.77||4.3||2.5||good|
|Asparagus||1 cup raw||26.8||32.16||3.2||2.2||good|
|Green Beans||1 cup raw||31.0||37.00||3.7||2.1||good|
|Brussels Sprouts||1 cup raw||37.8||36.96||3.7||1.8||good|
|Leeks||1 cup raw||54.3||52.51||5.3||1.7||good|
Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
|very good||DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%
Hopefully this helps you realize the importance of the friendship between Vitamin D and Calcium.
Bone health is so important, so be sure to get your DRI of Ca and Vit D!
Cheers to Salmon and Broccoli.