Vitamin D Status More Important Than High Calcium

Science has long known the relationship between calcium and vitamin D. Now, a new study suggests you don’t need to take a bunch of calcium if your vitamin D levels are sufficient. This could have interesting implications for menopausal women if further studies confirm the findings.

The study was conducted in Iceland–a place not known for heavy-duty concentrations of sun (to provide vitamin D)–and its investigators suggest that probably most people who live in northern climates ought to be taking vitamin D supplements rather than calcium.

Here are a few selected items from Harvard U’s Health Services on the calcium/vitamin D mix:

Dairy products are among the richest sources of calcium (nonfat and low-fat work as well as those made from whole milk. Milk’s added Vitamin D (100 IU/cup) and natural lactose (the natural sugar in milk) also help your body absorb the calcium.

Other sources of calcium include: green leafy vegetables, (like bok choy, collards, and kale)



most tofu

calcium-fortified orange juice

fortified cereals

Other Factors: Positive Calcium Balance

Exercise that causes muscles to tug at bones, or is weight bearing, also helps keep bones strong. Good examples are walking, low-impact aerobics and dancing.

Vitamin D is key to calcium absorption. Vitamin D is manufactured in the skin following exposure to sunlight*. This varies, however, with: time of day



skin pigmentation

use of sunscreen


It is estimated that 30-40% of adults over 50 are vitamin D-deficient. Vitamin D deficiency accelerates bone loss and increases the risk of fractures.

*Sunlight in Cambridge, MA provides inadequate vitamin D between October and April.

Hey, I thought I’d read somewhere that baked potatoes had significant calcium, too, but it turns out it’s really just the lowfat yogurt I put on them.