Concerns over calcium absorption are common among people who are at risk for bone-thinning diseases such as osteoporosis. If you’re not absorbing enough calcium from dietary sources, your body will extract calcium from your bones to supply other organ systems that also require this nutrient, such as the nervous system and cardiovascular system. When you’re trying to ensure that your body is getting enough calcium, it’s wise to make sure you’re consuming enough of the vitamins that aid in calcium absorption.
The sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, can be consumed through dietary sources or may be synthesized by your skin through exposure to sunlight. If you receive less than 15 minutes of sunlight per day, you may not be able to synthesize enough vitamin D from sunlight alone. According to Colorado State University, vitamin D transports calcium to your intestines for absorption and helps move it into the bloodstream for delivery throughout your body. Because calcium is one of the nutrients that helps trigger muscle contractions, without vitamin D to supply its transportation, your heart would not beat, you could not speak, move, breath or digest your food. Vitamin D also supports your immune system to help you fight infection and plays a role in brain development. A review of studies published in the August 2008 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” reports that in combination, calcium and vitamin D reduce the risk of breast, colon, lung and marrow cancers.
In November 2010, the Institute of Medicine released new recommendations for vitamin D and calcium intake. A recommended dietary allowance of 600 IU per day of vitamin D is advised for people between 1 and 70 years of age. Above age 70, that amount increases to 800 IU per day.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, vitamin K is named after its German name, Koagulationsvitamin, a title that offers insight into its function as a blood-clotting agent. This nutrient also assists in improving bone health through its involvement with proteins that bind minerals such as calcium together in bone. A daily intake of 90 mcg per day for adult females and 120 mcg per day for males is recommended. Vitamin K deficiencies are uncommon, according to the Linus Pauling Institute, but if you’re taking anticoagulant drugs or have a fat malabsorption disorder, you may be more prone to vitamin K deficiency.
Your body contains more calcium than any other mineral, according to Helpguide.org. It's especially important to get an adequate daily supply of calcium when you're under 30 years of age, as your bones are growing and strengthening. Later in life, an adequate calcium supply in the diet will help ensure that your body doesn't rob your bones of calcium to fill your daily calcium requirement.
The Institute of Medicine lists a range of different recommended daily Dietary Reference Intakes, or DRIs, for calcium. These dosages are dependent on your age and gender. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 require a DRI of 700 mg of calcium per day. From the age of 4 to 8, the calcium DRI is 1000 mg. Between the ages of 9 and 18, the DRI is at its highest, at 1300 mg per day. Adults aged 19 to 50 require 1000 mg of calcium per day. After the age of 50, women require slightly more calcium, at 1200 mg per day. Men continue to require only 1000 mg per day until they reach the age of 70. After age 70, both men and women require 1200 mg.
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin K
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin K
- Institute of Medicine of the National Academies: Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D
- Colorado State University: Vitamin D
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Vitamin D and Calcium Interactions: Functional Outcomes
- Helpguide.org: Calcium and Your Bones