Are You and Your Family Getting Enough Vitamin D and Calcium?

7 years ago

How much vitamin D do we need?  A recent report calls for a small increase in the daily recommendations of vitamin D, but does not go as far to recommend the much higher levels thought to possibly prevent chronic illness (such as cancer and diabetes).  The US-Canadian report from the Institute of Medicine reviewed nearly 1,000 published studies along with testimonies from scientists and other experts. It concluded that there is not strong enough evidence (at least at this time) that vitamin D can prevent chronic illness.

The recommended levels are somewhat higher than the ones set in 1997 (the last time a government panel examined vitamin D intake).  However, the new recommendations are much lower than many doctors and supplement advocates had been suggesting, and some are even suggesting there is a cover-up going on.  But in this post we will focus on the new recommendations and what foods are highest in vitamin D and calcium.

The panel focused primarily on skeletal and bone health to determine their new recommendations for both vitamin D and calcium.

The good news is: Most Americans and Canadians do seem to be getting enough vitamin D in their diet for healthy bones.

From CTV News:

The panel concluded, after reviewing national surveys of blood levels of both vitamin D, "the majority of Americans and Canadians are getting enough" from our diet and the sun and do not need to take supplements.

Vitamin D -- How much vitamin D do we need?

Most children, teens and adults -- a daily dose of 600 international units (IUs) of the vitamin is recommended, although 400 IUs sufficient.

Seniors older than 70 -- a daily dose of 800 IUs is recommended.

Babies less than 1 year old -- a daily dose of 400 IUs is recommended.

Are vitamin D supplements needed?

Most people won't need vitamin D supplements because it has become much easier to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D through our diet.  Vitamin D is found naturally (and fortified) in foods that most of us are probably already eating.

High levels of vitamin D are found naturally in:

  • Fatty Fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel)
  • Egg Yolks
  • Beef Liver

And many foods are already fortified with vitamin D:

  • Milk.
  • Many brands of orange juice.
  • Some cheeses and yogurts.
  • Some breakfast cereals.

We also get vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun, and only 5 to 15 minutes a day is needed.

However, there are a lot of people who may still need to add a vitamin D supplement to their diet, they are:

  • People who rarely eat fish (specifically fatty fish).
  • People who drink very little or no milk.
  • People with milk allergies or lactose intolerance.
  • People who follow a vegan diet.

You can make sure you're getting enough vitamin D by checking out this list of over 400 foods highest in Vitamin D (here are the top 10):

1.  Fish oil, cod liver  -- Vitamin D: 2217IU

2.  Fish, herring, Atlantic, raw -- Vitamin D: 2061IU

3.  Fish, catfish, channel, wild, raw -- Vitamin D: 1053IU

4.  Mollusks, oyster, eastern, wild, raw -- Vitamin D: 941IU

5.  Fish, salmon, sockeye, canned, drained solids with bone -- Vitamin D: 920IU

6.  Fish, salmon, pink, canned, solids with bone and liquid -- Vitamin D: 898IU

7.  Steelhead trout, boiled, canned (Alaska Native)  -- Vitamin D: 760IU

8.  Fish, salmon, pink, canned, drained solids with bone  -- Vitamin D: 685IU

9.  Fish, halibut, Greenland, raw -- Vitamin D: 645IU

10.  Vitasoy USA, Nasoya Lite Firm Tofu -- Vitamin D: 581IU

Four milk bottles in holder, close-up

Calcium -- How much calcium do we need

The panel also stressed the importance of getting enough calcium, here are their recommendations:

  • 700 milligrams per day of calcium for most toddlers ages 1 through 3
  • 1,000 mg daily for most children ages 4 through 8
  • 1,300 mg per day for adolescents ages 9 through 18
  • 1,000 mg per day for most women ages 19 through 50 and for men until age 70
  • 1,200 mg per day for women over 50 and for both men and women over 70

When it comes to getting enough calcium we all know how important milk and dairy products are, but there are other foods you may not realize that are also high in calcium. Here are 15 foods high in calcium that don't come from a cow:

1.  Sesame Seeds -- A quarter cup of sesame seeds has 351 mg calcium.

2.  Spinach -- A cup of boiled spinach has 245 mg.

3.  Collard Greens -- A cup of boiled collard greens has 266 mg.

4.  Blackstrap Molasses -- One tablespoon has about 137 mg.

5.  Kelp -- One cup of raw kelp has 136 mg.

6.  Tahini -- Two tablespoons of raw tahini (sesame seed butter) have 126 mg.

7.  Broccoli -- Two cups of boiled broccoli have 124 mg.

8.  Swiss Chard -- One cup of boiled chard has 102 mg.

9.  Kale -- One cup of boiled kale has 94 mg.

10.  Brazil Nuts -- Two ounces of Brazil nuts (12 nuts) have 90 mg.

11.  Celery -- Two cups of raw celery have 81 mg.

12.  Almonds -- One ounce of almonds (23 nuts) has 75 mg.

13.  Papaya -- One medium papaya has 73 mg.

14.  Flax Seeds -- Two tablespoons of flax seeds have 52 mg.

15.  Oranges --One medium orange has 52 mg.

What do you think about these latest guidelines?  Are you and your family getting enough vitamin D and calcium?

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
Also at

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