Bone health is an essential aspect of overall well-being, and two vital nutrients play a starring role in maintaining it: vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D, often called the ‘sunshine vitamin’, facilitates calcium absorption from the diet, ensuring its availability for bone mineralization. Without sufficient vitamin D, calcium cannot effectively enter the bones, leading to weakened bone structure and an increased risk of fractures. Calcium, on the other hand, acts as the building block of bones, providing strength and density. Together, vitamin D and calcium form a dynamic duo, safeguarding your bones! But just how much of these nutrients do we need to maintain optimal bone health?
Health Shots reached out to Dr Parag Sancheti, a renowned orthopaedic surgeon, specializing in knee replacement, arthroscopy and sports medicine at Sancheti Hospital, to know the daily requirements of calcium and vitamin D for bone and joint health. But before that, let’s understand the benefits of calcium and vitamin D for bones.
Why do you need vitamin D and calcium for your bones?
Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone and joint health due to their individual and interconnected roles in the body.
Here’s how calcium benefits your bones:
- Calcium is a mineral that plays a crucial role in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. The majority of calcium in the body is stored in bones, where it provides structural support and strength.
- Adequate calcium intake is necessary throughout life to support bone health, especially during periods of growth such as childhood and adolescence.
- In addition to bone health, calcium is also involved in various physiological functions, including muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and blood clotting.
Here’s how vitamin D benefits your bones:
- Vitamin D is essential for the proper absorption and utilization of calcium in the body. It promotes the absorption of calcium from the intestines into the bloodstream.
- Without sufficient vitamin D, the body cannot effectively absorb calcium from the diet, leading to reduced calcium availability for bone mineralization.
- Vitamin D also plays a role in regulating calcium levels in the blood, maintaining a balance between the calcium stored in bones and the calcium circulating in the body.
- In addition to its role in calcium metabolism, vitamin D is also important for immune function, cell growth, and the modulation of inflammation.
The daily requirement of vitamin D for bone health
Dr Sancheti says, vitamin D is regarded as a hormone since our bodies can produce it in our skin when it is exposed to healthy sunlight. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D varies based on age.
- For individuals aged 1 to 70 years, including pregnant and lactating women: 600 international units (IU) per day.
- For adults aged 71 years and older: 800 IU per day.
However, individuals with limited sun exposure or certain medical conditions may require higher doses. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalized recommendations.
The daily requirement of calcium for bone health
Dr Sancheti says, “Everyone knows that calcium is beneficial for your bones and prevents osteoporosis. However, calcium can only fully contribute to bone formation if your body is receiving adequate vitamin D.” The RDA for calcium also varies based on age and sex:
- For adults aged 19 to 50 years, including pregnant and lactating women: 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day.
- For adult women aged 51 years and older: 1,200 mg per day.
- For adult men aged 51 to 70 years: 1,000 mg per day.
- For adult men aged 71 years and older: 1,200 mg per day.
It is important to note that these recommendations are general guidelines, and individual needs may vary based on their current health condition. Additionally, it is often recommended to obtain these nutrients through a combination of dietary sources and, if necessary, supplements.
The link between calcium and vitamin D for bone health
Together, calcium and vitamin D work synergistically to support bone health. Adequate calcium intake, coupled with sufficient vitamin D levels, ensures optimal bone growth and strength, reducing the risk of conditions like osteoporosis and fractures. It’s important to note that other nutrients and lifestyle factors, such as regular exercise, also contribute to overall bone health.