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By: Nick Halasz and Katy Meassick, University of Maryland College Park Dietetic Interns

On November 30th, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released their much anticipated Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for Calcium and Vitamin D. As dietetic interns, it was exciting to have the opportunity to listen to the IOM’s official webcast release, which was also attended by reporters from several major news outlets, including: CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

After a year of reviewing over 1,000 published studies and receiving input from numerous scientists and stakeholders, the Committee is recommending a daily intake of calcium ranging from 700 – 1300 mg per day depending on the current stage of life.  The recommendation for vitamin D is now 600 IU per day for most stages of life and 800 IU per day for individuals over 70 years of age.  A comprehensive table of dietary reference intakes can be found within the report brief

The IOM Committee reiterated that the new and old recommendations are not comparable because the old recommendations were labeled as Adequate Intakes and the new ones are set as DRIs. The previous recommendations were set in 1997 and the new DRIs are based on recent scientific research with higher-quality, more reliable results.

Most Americans can meet the IOM Committee’s recommendations through their diet by choosing foods and beverages that contain vitamin D and calcium.

Where can you find sources of vitamin D?

·         Add fatty fish into your diet at least two times a week. For example, grilled salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, catfish, and eel.  Just 3 ounces of cooked salmon contains 794 IU of vitamin D!

·         Milk and milk products can help you start your day on the right track.  Fortified cereal and milk is a great way to get your vitamin D. 

·         Fortified fruit juices are another source of vitamin D. Consider topping off your smoothie or breakfast with an 8 oz glass of vitamin D fortified orange juice, which will provide you with 25% of your daily allowance for vitamin D.

·         Did you know that mushrooms are now being exposed to UV-B light, like that of sunlight, to enhance their vitamin D content? Top salads, pizzas, or pastas with ½ cup of chopped mushrooms to get more vitamin D in your diet!

And where can you find calcium?

·         Again, those milk and milk products, like yogurt, are a great source of calcium.  Packing yogurt as a snack provides you with extra calcium and it’s convenient and tasty too. And, those dark green leafy vegetables aren’t just for iron and fiber; one cup of collard greens contains 266 mg/calcium.

·         Bony fish, like sardines and salmon, will also provide you with calcium.

·         Fortified breakfast cereals can go beyond your breakfast meal. Try stirring in ½ cup of dry cereal with your afternoon yogurt or just pack it as a crunchy mid-afternoon snack.

·         Most juices are fortified with calcium in addition to vitamin D. An eight ounce glass of juice can provide 35% of the daily value of calcium to your diet.

What’s your favorite way to get vitamin D and calcium through your diet?  

For more information on vitamin D and calcium, their importance in bone health, and ways to incorporate more into your diet, see these additional resources:

Bright Papers: Them Bones

Is Food Fortification Necessary? An Historical Perspective



2 comment(s) so far...

Re: Focus on Food: Ways to Get Vitamin D and Calcium through Your Diet

I take calcium supplements for my bones, and my doctor told me that calcium must be taken with vitamin D for proper absorption.But I have heard vitamin D making bones more brittle...I do not know it's true or false

By Ci-Sun on   Thursday, January 06, 2011

Re: Focus on Food: Ways to Get Vitamin D and Calcium through Your Diet

The main issue regarding the way how to get enough calcium is not the knowledge on the content of this macro element in various food - the missing answer in this article is the calcium bioavailability from different food sources.

By Dusan Obradovic on   Thursday, February 03, 2011

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