Your need for calcium gets a lot of attention, but your body can’t use it without its partner, vitamin D, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Most adults need 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. Recommendations for vitamin D range from the current recommended daily allowance of 600 International Units (IUs), all the way up to 4,000 IUs to best support bone health.
Adding key foods to your diet will help you get both these nutrients, which can take extra effort if you’re limiting calories to lose weight. Start with salmon, sardines and tuna, fatty types of fish that have both calcium and vitamin D.
For other foods high in calcium, opt for more low-fat milk and yogurt, broccoli, kale, bok choy and other green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin D is added to milk, but it isn’t found naturally in many foods other than egg yolks and shiitake mushrooms—a great vegetable for making low-cal dishes.
Your body can make vitamin D from sun exposure, but that requires a careful approach to avoid increasing skin cancer risk. It’s also hard to get enough rays during winter months and in some parts of the country. Talk to your health care provider to find out what’s right for you.
Many foods are now fortified with vitamin D, calcium or both. A great option is unsweetened almond milk. Some brands deliver half your daily calcium and a quarter of your vitamin D needs in a 30-calorie, 8-ounce glass.
Always read nutrition labels because the amounts of these nutrients vary by product and by brand. The calcium content of a food must always be listed in the nutrient panel, but you’re likely to see the vitamin D content only on foods that are fortified with it.