Cornell Cooperative Extension

March 11, 2014

Your diet and bone health

If you have been slipping and sliding a lot this season, you probably have thought about your bones a little more than usual.

Hopefully you have not broken a bone, but all of us should be aware of our calcium and vitamin D intake. Our diet can impact our bone strength, but many people do not get enough calcium and vitamin D.


Calcium is a mineral found in a variety of foods, especially dairy foods.

It is stored in our bones and teeth and keeps them hard. Calcium is also important for many other body functions, like our cardiovascular and nervous system.

Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium, so it is equally important to your bone health and, like calcium, plays a role in other body functions as well. Our bodies get vitamin D through our skin (sunlight), the food we eat and/or supplements.

How much calcium and vitamin D you need varies depending on age, gender, bone density and other factors.

Our bones are gaining density while we are young and still growing, so it is very important for children and adolescents to get enough calcium. Once you are an adult, getting enough calcium helps slow the natural loss of bone density that happens with age.

Most adults need between 1,000 and 1,300 mg of calcium per day. Often a physician recommends specific amounts if a person is at risk of osteoporosis, which usually involves taking supplements.

For most people, getting enough calcium and vitamin D naturally can be attainable if you are aware of food rich in these nutrients and are sure to include them in your diet daily.


Usually when we think of calcium, we think of dairy.

Dairy is a good source of calcium and is usually fortified with vitamin D. Choosing low-fat dairy products three times per day is a good way to get enough calcium.

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Cornell Cooperative Extension