By: CPT Diane Ryan, MS, RD, Staff Dietitian
When we think of calcium needs, we think of fragile Great Aunt Sara. However, it is the teenage girls ages 9-18 who are actually at the highest risk of calcium deficiency and long-term bone disease. Their young bones are going through a very critical growth and development stage and need sufficient doses of calcium and vitamin D.
Calcium is a mineral that is required for bone strength. In fact, about 99% of the calcium in our body can be found in bone. Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption and metabolism. So, back in the 1930s, the United States implemented a fortification program of adding vitamin D to milk to combat rickets, the childhood version of osteomalacia and a major public health problem at that time. Way back in the day before soda reigned supreme, milk was the beverage of choice and the primary source of calcium in the diet. Children used to drink milk with almost every meal, snack, and even at bedtime.
Your overall health and performance improves in the following ways when your body is properly hydrated.
Today it is difficult to watch television commercials and not hear something about calcium. Juices, cereals, and even some candies and snacks are now fortified with it. Milk is no longer the choice beverage. But our bones still need calcium and vitamin D. Though many people choose to take a mineral supplement to meet their needs, food sources should always be the first option.
Dietary sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified juices and cereals.
Dietary sources of vitamin D include shitake mushrooms, mackerel, sockeye salmon, herring, tuna, sardines, catfish, cod liver oil, eggs, fortified milk, and sunshine.