A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D has been shown to help reduce your risk for osteoporosis. Calcium is critical not only for creating bones in childhood, but for maintaining them throughout life. And vitamin D is needed to help your body absorb the calcium.
Vitamin D-fortified milk—including skim and 1 percent—is a good source of both calcium and vitamin D. Many soymilk varieties are also good sources of D.
You need 1,000 mg of calcium per day up to age 50, and 1,200 mg after that. For vitamin D, the recommended daily level is 200 IU for men and women age 30 and younger; 400 IU for people ages 31 to 50; and 600 IU from age 51 and older. However, many experts think the numbers are too low and are evaluating the research. New recommendations may emerge in coming years.
Other calcium-rich picks include:
- Reduced-fat cheddar, Swiss or Jack cheeses—1.25 ounces contains 350 mg or more
- Orange juice with added calcium—1 cup contains 300 mg
- Sardines—a 3.75-ounce can contains 351 mg
- A calcium supplement may be a good idea if you're lactose intolerant or don't eat enough calcium-rich foods. Aim for a 500-mg supplement daily if you get one calcium-rich food per day, or 1,000 mg daily if you eat no calcium-rich foods. If you're 50 or older, you should add an extra 500-mg supplement to this recommendation.
Michelle Hering, M.S., is the fitness expert at TheBestLife.com. For more on healthy eating, check out TheBestLife.com.
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