by: Jordin Rubin
Calcium is clearly a major player in bone health, but there are at least 19 other key nutrients that play vital roles, too, and vitamin D leads the way.† The truth is that, without vitamin D, the body can absorb only 10-15% of its dietary calcium. With vitamin D, the body may absorb twice as much or more calcium †
First, let’s take a look at calcium. It’s not only the most abundant mineral in the body, but it’s also one of the most essential, since it's part of so many body functions—including ensuring strong bones and teeth. In fact, 98% of calcium is found in the bones, 1% in the teeth and 1% in blood and tissues.
Calcium does a lot in the body, too. In addition to building and maintaining bones and teeth, it regulates heart rhythm, supports normal sleep patterns, helps regulate the passage of nutrients in and out of the cell walls and assists in normal blood clotting. † Additionally, it helps maintain proper nerve and muscle function and supports already normal blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.†
A deficiency in calcium, on the other hand, may result in arm and leg muscle spasms, softening of bones, back and leg cramps, brittle bones, rickets, poor growth, osteoporosis (a deterioration of the bones) and/or tooth decay.
The body gets calcium in two primary ways. One is by eating foods that contain calcium, including green, leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, bok choy, turnip greens and mustard greens. Legumes—including black-eyed peas, navy beans and kidney beans—also supply good sources of calcium.
The other way the body gets calcium is by pulling it from bones—an act of borrowing that isn’t always returned. This happens when blood levels of calcium drop too low due to low calcium intake and/or the body not being able to fully metabolize or utilize calcium.
That’s where vitamin D may come in.
A cornerstone of bone-building, vitamin D is critical for strong, healthy bones and must be present for the body to fully absorb the all-important calcium.† Unfortunately, however, 70% of women ages 51-70 and 90% of women over 70 don’t get enough vitamin D from food and supplements. The truth is that this “sunshine vitamin” is also a must for proper calcium absorption.†
As I mentioned earlier, without vitamin D, your body can absorb only 10 to 15% of dietary calcium—even if there is enough calcium available. With vitamin D, however, the body may absorb between 30 to 40% or more of its dietary calcium, so be sure you get enough vitamin D to go along for the ride.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.