.

Calcium is a mineral that’s essential for bone strength. Vitamin D helps break down and absorb the calcium. There are other reasons to have a significant amount of Vitamin D, such as preventing Alzheimer’s and certain cancers, and we’ll discuss those in another article.

What are the best ways to get calcium and Vitamin D?

Supplement.

The easiest way to get all the recommended vitamin D and calcium is to supplement. This way you can be certain you’re getting the right amount for your age. Calcium comes in all forms, and calcium citrate is the most easily absorbed.

Milk. Not!

There’s an old saying that cows “milk does a body good”, and you can drink milk to get some of your calcium and vitamin D, but the amount you have to drink to get the required amounts to prevent osteoporosis is prohibitive. The Harvard School of Public Health says that milk is not even the best source of calcium, because too much can increase the risk for prostate and ovarian cancer. What’s worse, too much can also weaken bones due to the saturated fat content and retinol, vitamin A.

Dietary Nutrients.

You can also eat foods rich in calcium and should as part of good nutrition for your whole body, however, once again, you can’t get enough calcium from dietary sources. Hard cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt and green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach are all good sources of calcium. There is an average of about 150 mg. of calcium per 4 oz. serving.

Sunlight.

Your body can make vitamin D when you’re exposed to UVB – ultraviolet B rays. You need about 5-30 minutes without sunscreen. You’ll want to be careful of the time of day you go out in the sun though, so you don’t burn.

If you live north of the 42 degrees latitude, you’ll have a very difficult time getting enough vitamin D November through February and you’ll have to supplement. Sunlight UVB also does not travel through glass. North of 42 degrees latitude includes San Francisco Bay Area.

Exercise.

Well, here’s yet another reason to get enough exercise, as if there aren’t enough already.

The purpose of exercise is to increase bone mass and strength, which help prevent osteoporosis. Even if you have osteoporosis, exercise can help.Wight bearing exercises such as jogging, running and walking will strengthen your bones, and resistive exercises such as weight lifting will increase bone mass and strength as well.

It’s really important to know that when you stop exercising you lose bone mass, so exercise three to four times per week for 30 -40 minutes or more. Also, if you have osteoporosis, don’t do flexing exercises which cause your spine to bend forward, and have your health professional design your exercise program.

Nix smoking and excess alcohol consumption.

Smoking and too much drinking affect vitamin D absorption in the body.

Reduce Stress. Too much stress produces a hormone called cortisol and this reduces calcium in your bones. Take a look at relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation and walking in nature to reduce your stress levels.

Get tested.

There are several tests to determine your risk for osteoporosis and you’ll want to explore them all.

Get a bone density test as often as your doctor recommends after age 30. This way, you’ll have a good baseline and can measure your bone density as you age.

Take the Canary Club’s AdvancedPlus Profile, which includes vitamin D levels for both men and women, as well as your cortisol levels to measure stress

So, now both you and I are set with the best tips to prevent osteoporosis. Think I’ll grab my calcium and vitamin D supplements. Best to spread them out to twice a day.

Pat Wyman

Research Editor

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The Canary Club is an educational advisory group with a team of medical advisors headed by Richard Shames, M.D.