New calcium and vitamin D recommendations for older adults

November 12, 2002 in Nutrition for Older Adults, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

New calcium and vitamin D recommendations for older adults

Most older adults are not getting the recommended amount of calcium each day, even if they take supplements, new study findings suggest. Based on U.S. survey of more than 5,000 people at least 60 years old, investigators from the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland found that between 70% and 87% of older people don't get enough calcium in their diet. Taking supplements allowed more people to meet calcium goals, but most continued to fall below their estimated requirements. Even when they take supplements, nearly two thirds of the population is falling below the daily requirements.

Newly revised guidelines for calcium for older adults are to be released this week. It is recommended that teens and pre-menopausal women consume 1300 and 1000 mg of calcium per day respectively, calcium being one of the key minerals involved in bone development. After menopause, women's calcium needs increase to 1500 mg daily (the previous recommendation as 1200 mg).

Vitamin D is also an essential nutrient for building strong bones. The Clinical Practice Guidelines recommend men and women under 50 years of age obtain 400 IU (10 ‘g) per day while men and women beyond age 50 need- 800 IU (20 ’g) per day. These recommendations assume normal sun exposure, which in addition to diet is one of the ways the body produces vitamin D.

A wide variety of calcium-containing foods such as milk and dairy products, fortified soy beverages, and green leafy vegetables including broccoli or bok choy can contribute to meeting calcium needs. Fluid milk products and margarine are fortified with vitamin D. Individuals who have a low calcium intake and limited sun exposure may need a supplement of calcium and vitamin D.

More tips on meeting calcium needs are available from Dietitians of Canada Fact Sheet - Calcium Counts at For further information on nutrition and healthy eating, visit Dietitians of Canada award-winning website at

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.