The Importance of Calcium and Vitamin D for Strong Bones

According to the National Institutes of Health, our bodies require a diverse range of nutrients from the foods we consume to maintain optimal health, with two specific nutrients, calcium and vitamin D, playing a crucial role in maintaining strong and healthy bones.

Calcium and Bone Health: Calcium, a vital mineral, is the most abundant mineral found within our bodies and contributes to the strength and structure of our body. When our diet lacks sufficient calcium, the body resorts to withdrawing calcium from our bones, weakening them over time and increasing the risk of osteoporosis—an ailment characterized by brittle and fragile bones, making fractures more likely.

Sources of Calcium: While dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium, other options include:

  • Fish like salmon and tuna
  • Leafy green vegetables such as kale and turnip greens
  • Calcium-set tofu
  • Small fish with bones like sardines and canned salmon
  • Fortified foods and drinks, such as certain juices, soymilk, oatmeal, and breakfast cereal

Vitamin D and Bone Health: Vitamin D serves multiple functions such as aiding in the absorption of dietary calcium, protecting older adults from osteoporosis alongside calcium, and supporting the immune system and muscle function, thereby enhancing balance and reducing fracture risks. In children, inadequate vitamin D can result in the development of rickets, where bones become soft, weak, deformed, and painful. Among adults, a long-term lack of vitamin D can lead to Osteomalacia, a painful condition causing weakened bones and muscles that are more prone to bending and breaking, as well as osteoporosis.

Sources of Vitamin D: Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, primarily certain fish like trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Fortified foods, such as some milk, yogurts, breakfast cereals, and orange juice, are significant sources of vitamin D in the American diet. *Consider consulting a healthcare provider before taking a vitamin D supplement.*

Refer to this chart below for daily requirements of calcium and vitamin D for each age grouping (Kimball & El-Haji Fuleihan). 

In summary, calcium and vitamin D are pivotal for maintaining strong and resilient bones. Ensuring an adequate intake of these nutrients through a balanced diet, fortified foods, and supplements, if necessary, is vital for promoting bone health and reducing the risk of bone-related ailments.


Kimball, Samantha & El-Hajj Fuleihan, Ghada & Vieth, Reinhold. (2008). Vitamin D: A Growing Perspective. Critical reviews in clinical laboratory sciences. 45. 339-414. 10.1080/10408360802165295.

“Osteoporosis.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS),