Does everyone need supplemental vitamin D and calcium?

Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT
Probably not everyone, but certainly the majority of the population does. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), most Americans do not meet the daily recommendations of calcium (1000-1300 mg/day) or the current higher recommendation of vitamin D. Female adolescents have the lowest intake overall.

The safest and most practical way to increase the body’s level of vitamin D is by taking a daily multivitamin mineral formula (MVM) that contains between 600-1200 IU of vitamin D. The new recommended intake is 600 international units (IU) daily for adults up to age 70, which is three times more than the previous recommendation and most experts don't believe the new one is high enough. For people older than 70, the new goal is 800 IU/day.

Considering research shows that most people never met the old low recommendations, reaching these new goals with food alone is probably not going to happen for most people. Food sources of vitamin D are scarce or not popular and sunlight (under the right conditions skin can produce some vitamin D when exposed to sunlight) is no longer recommended as a source because it increases the risk of skin cancer and is too variable. Additionally, as dairy products, especially milk, have become less popular with many teens and adults, daily needed calcium levels are rarely reached, leading to poor bone health as we age.

Daily shortages of both vitamin D and calcium are associated with increased risks of age-related diseases and cancers. So make a conscious effort to follow the recommendation below. First, make sure you are consuming a healthy diet; good examples include the meal plans provided in the Sharecare Fitness application. Then add as shown to complete our health recommendation:

Take daily:
  • Targeted Multivitamin & Mineral with at 600-1000 IU of vitamin D (Take with a meal)
As needed:

Super Calcium+
  • Use if you do not meet the daily needs of calcium (~1000-1200 mg) and Vitamin D (1000 IU) from sunlight, multivitamin and food intake. Take as directed
Super Omega-3
  • Take 1 daily if not consuming 2-4 servings per week of fatty fish
Kate Myerson
Nutrition & Dietetics
No not everyone needs to supplement with calcium and vitamin D. See the recommended calcium intake below. We do need adequate vitamin D to absorb the Calcium and we can usually get enough vitamin D from 10-15 minutes of sun exposure. Getting calcium in your diet can be easy with each serving of dairy averaging about 300 mg of calcium. You can also get about 150-200 mg from dark leafy greens like broccoli. You will also find calcium fortified in non-dairy milks, some breakfast cereals and some orange juices.

Recommended Calcium Intakes:
  • Infants 0 to 6 months 200 mg
  • Infants 6 to 12 months 260 mg
  • 1 to 3 years old 700 mg
  • 4 to 8 years old 1,000 mg
  • 9 to 13 years old 1,300 mg
  • 14 to 18 years old 1,300 mg
  • 19 to 30 years old 1,000 mg
  • 31 to 50 years old 1,000 mg
  • 51- to 70-year-old males 1,000 mg
  • 51- to 70-year-old females 1,200 mg
  • 70 years old 1,200 mg
  • 14 to 18 years old, pregnant/lactating 1,300 mg
  • 19 to 50 years old, pregnant/lactating 1,000 mg
Source: Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 2010.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.