Healthy lifestyle habits, including adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, are important for preventing osteoporosis and are also a useful accompaniment to medical treatment.
Calcium and Vitamin D
A combination of calcium and vitamin D can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. (For strong bones, people need enough of both calcium and vitamin D.) The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends:
- Adults under age 50 should have 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 - 800 IU of vitamin D daily.
- Adults age 50 and older should have 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 - 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily.
Dietary Sources. Good dietary sources of calcium include:
- Milk, yogurt, and other dairy products
- Dark green vegetables such as collard greens, kale, and broccoli
- Sardines and salmon with bones
- Calcium-fortified foods and beverages such as cereals, orange juice, soymilk
Certain types of foods can interfere with calcium absorption. These include foods high in oxalate (such as spinach and beet greens) or phytate (peas, pinto beans, navy beans, wheat bran). Diets high in animal protein, sodium, or caffeine may also interfere with calcium absorption.
Dietary sources of vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna
- Egg yolks
- Vitamin D-fortified milk, orange juice, soymilk, or cereals
However, many Americans do not get enough vitamin D solely from diet or exposure to sunlight.
Review Date: 10/21/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.