Some nutritional requirements are best taken in pairs, where one complements the other. In fact, the combination of the two results in better results, as it improves the function of the overall system. While the term “dynamic duo” may be applied to many combinations, it most aptly fits two vital nutrients of your diet: Calcium and Vitamin D.
Calcium is essential in the diet of every individual. It is virtually impossible to build healthy bones without it and while almost everyone is aware that our teeth are primarily built from calcium, what many people don’t realize is that our bones too need calcium. In fact, bones and teeth store approximately 99% of the calcium we ingest. When we fail to ingest enough, or our body requires calcium, it removes it from our bones. If we do not replace it, we end up with brittle bones.
Calcium also plays a role in more than creating healthy bones and teeth. It is also responsible for other important functions within the body. If we want our muscles to function properly, we need to have calcium. If we need our nerves to transmit messages to other body components, we need to eat calcium. If we want our hormones to secrete as required, calcium must become an integral part of our diet.
Fortunately, calcium is plentiful. We can take supplements but most medical professionals recommend we choose food as our major source. The problem with supplements is the relative ease of forgetting to take them on a daily basis. Moreover, recently, medical researchers1 have found a potential link between taking calcium supplements and increased risk for suffering from kidney stones and cardiovascular disease.
Sources of Calcium
The most prominent source of calcium is milk products, although there are others. They are easy to add to your regular dietary intake. Among the most common sources are:
Various nuts and seeds including almonds and hazelnuts
Spinach – although care has to be taken as the rate of absorption is not as efficient as other greens
Seaweeds such as kelp
You can also find dietary sources of calcium in various prepared foods. Many fruit juices, drinks, and breads have been fortified with calcium.
Vitamin D is the second member of the dynamic duo. Like calcium, it is readily available in food. Fish such as mackerel, salmon, tuna, sardines and catfish are excellent sources of vitamin D. So, too, are eggs. You can also obtain it in supplement form. Take advantage of this availability and pump up your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
In the body, vitamin D undergoes conversion. It becomes a hormone, stimulating the production of certain proteins accountable for the absorption of calcium in the body. If the vitamin is lacking, our body will fail to absorb sufficient calcium. The body will then cannibalize the necessary calcium from our bones and teeth. This can result in rickets in children as well as a softening of the bones (osteomalacia). Adults will be prone to osteoporosis.
There are various groups at risk. Women have a higher incidence of calcium deficiency than men do. This is particularly true of those who are post-menopausal. Vegetarians, those who are lactose intolerant and smokers must also watch their calcium/vitamin D levels.
While these are both necessary, like anything in life too much of anything can actually be harmful. Failure to do so can result in an overdose. This will produce kidney calcification. It may also produce the same effect in the cardiovascular system, particularly the soft tissues: blood vessels, heart and lungs.
Vitamin D and Calcium are a dynamic duo. The two work together within your body to ensure you maintain healthy bones and teeth. While supplements provide an alternative, it is always better to obtain your calcium and vitamin D from original food sources.