Eat Right –
Your Bones Will Thank You

more about healthy eating

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As the saying goes, “you are what you eat."

Daily calcium and vitamin D requirements increase with age. Use the table below to determine how much of these essential nutrients you need.*

IU=international units
* Total diet plus supplement. Healthy adults between 19 and 50 years of age require 400 to 1000 IU daily. Those over 50 years or younger adults at high risk (those with osteoporosis, multiple fractures or conditions affecting vitamin D absorption) should receive 800 to 2000 IU daily. Taking more than 2000 IU of vitamin D daily should be done only under medical supervision.

Calcium

According to Osteoporosis Canada, women older than 50 years of age require 1200 mg/day of calcium (supplement & dietary intake combined). Making sure you get enough calcium is an important step towards good bone health. By doing so, you’ll maintain an adequate supply so that your body doesn’t have to dip into the reserve of calcium in your bones.
Diet

It’s strongly recommended that you get the calcium you need from your diet whenever possible.

Supplement

If you can’t get enough calcium from the foods you eat, you can also take a supplement.

What are some easy ways to work high-calcium foods or beverages into my diet?

Start the day with a cup of milk in your hot or cold cereal – just one cup of milk contains at least 300 mg of calcium.

Add a slice of cheese to a sandwich or having a canned salmon sandwich are both excellent lunchtime ideas that add another 200 to 500 mg of calcium.

For supper, a tofu stir-fry with a cup of green vegetables such as broccoli and kale can boost your calcium approximately 300 mg.

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Click here for the calcium content of some common foods.

Milk and Milk Products Portion Calcium†
Milk – 3.3%, 2%, 1%, skim, chocolate1 cup / 250mL291-322 mg
Buttermilk1 cup / 250mL370 mg
Cheese – Mozzarella, gruyère, Swiss, low-fat cheddar1¼ʺ / 3 cm cube396-506 mg
Cheese – Cheddar, edam, gouda, Colby, blue1¼ʺ / 3 cm cube252-366 mg
Yogurt – plain¾ cup / 175 mL263-275 mg
Milk – powder, dry⅓ cup / 80 mL302 mg
Cottage cheese – 2%, 1%½ cup / 125 mL146-265 mg
Fortified soy beverage1 cup/250 mL321-324 mg
Fish and Alternatives Portion Calcium
Sardines, with bones½ can / 55 g286 mg
Salmon, with bones – canned½ can / 105 g179-212 mg
Tofu – with calcium sulfate3 oz / 84 g302-525 mg
Fruits and Vegetables Portion Calcium
Spinach, frozen – cooked½ cup / 125 mL154 mg
Fortified orange juice1 cup / 250 mL155 mg
Kale, frozen – cooked½ cup / 125 mL95 mg
Collards – cooked½ cup / 125 mL142 mg
† Approximate values
Adapted from Dietitians of Canada.

For more information on calcium content in common foods, delicious calcium-rich recipes and more, visit our Resources Page.

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium from the foods you eat. Your body naturally produces vitamin D when you’re exposed to sunlight; however, during the winter months, most Canadians do not get enough sun exposure to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D. The best way to enhance your vitamin D intake is through dietary sources and supplements.

Plate of Vitamin D rich food

What are some easy ways to work high-vitamin D foods or beverages into my diet?

Vitamin D fortified milk, yogurt and orange juice.

Several kinds of fish – such as salmon, sardines and swordfish – and some fish oils (halibut and cod liver oil).

Whole eggs (vitamin D is found in the yolk).

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Click here for the vitamin D content of some common foods.

According to Osteoporosis Canada, women 50+ require 800-2000 IU of vitamin D per day (supplement & dietary intake combined).

Vitamin D content of some common foods IUs per serving*
Cod liver oil, 1 teaspoon427
Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 2.5 ounces394-636
Mackerel, Pacific, cooked, 2.5 ounces343
Mackerel, canned, 2.5 ounces219
Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 2.5 ounces60
Milk, 3.3% homo, 2%, 1%, skim, chocolate milk, 1 cup103-105
Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, ½ a cup50
Yogurt, plain, fruit bottom, fortified with vitamin D58-71
Margarine, fortified, 1 tsp25-36
Sardines, Pacific, canned, 2.5 ounces144
Liver, beef, cooked, 2.5 ounces36
Egg, yolk, cooked57-88
Adapted from Dietitians of Canada.
IU=international units
Diet & Nutrition

In addition to getting enough calcium and vitamin D, here are a few more things to keep in mind when planning your meals:

Consume caffeine, alcohol and salt with moderation

Coffee, tea and soft drinks contain caffeine, which may decrease calcium absorption and contribute to bone loss – choose these drinks in moderation.

Avoid excessive alcohol intake – consume no more than 2-3 alcoholic drinks per day.

High-salt foods should be monitored – try to limit your sodium intake to no more than 2100 mg/day (about one teaspoon of salt).

Power up on protein

Ask your doctor how much you need.

Meat

Eggs

Beans

Get Into The Kitchen!

If you find yourself pressed for time, it may be tempting to opt for convenience foods instead of cooking from scratch. Unfortunately, processed foods tend to contain more of what you don’t need (for example salt, which can decrease your body’s ability to retain calcium) and not enough of what you do – vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in a fresh or close to fresh state.

Fortunately, there are ways to cook that don’t require an hour in the kitchen. With a bit of knowledge and advance preparation, you can take advantage of “healthy conveniences” like using frozen vegetables to ensure you eat healthy. You can even make use of your microwave! The Resources section contains links to several websites with healthy recipes and some cookbooks designed with the busy cook in mind.

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