Our bodies need different vitamins and minerals to promote overall health but there are specific nutrients that certain organs need. Vitamin A, for example, is great for promoting eye health. We all know that calcium is important for the health of our bones as well as our teeth but did you know that 99% of the calcium in our bodies is found in our bones and teeth? And did you know that calcium works in tandem with another nutrient, Vitamin D? Read on to find out more about the importance of strong bones and teeth, and about these nutrients involved in bone and tooth health.
Why Strong Bones and Teeth Matter
There’s always some deterioration and renewal when it comes to our bodies—old cells die away and are replaced by new ones—and the process slows down as we get older. The same is true for bone health. When we’re young, our bones develop at a rapid pace; “out with the old and in with the new” take place in equal measure. But as we get older, we don’t regenerate as quickly and if we haven’t built up strong bones, then it may spell disaster.
Since nearly all of the calcium in our bodies can be found in our bones and teeth, other organs tap into these calcium deposits to perform their specific functions, like blood clotting and muscle contraction as well as some cardiovascular functions. The problem is our bodies don’t produce calcium on their own, so it’s important to replenish the calcium stores that our bones very generously give to our other organs. If we don’t replace the calcium used, our bones progressively become weaker. As we get older, this weakening of the bones may lead to conditions and diseases like osteoporosis, wherein bones become brittle and prone to breakage.
When it comes to teeth, it’s easy for us to see when there’s a problem: We get cavities when our teeth aren’t strong enough and we don’t give them the proper care. But it’s a little tougher with bones. We normally don’t realize there’s a problem until we have a bone density scan or get a fracture. It’s important to ensure bones are strong and healthy now to minimize problems later in life. Besides, our bones protect our internal organs, support our muscles, and generally allow us to be active and even participate in sports, so making sure they’re strong means a better quality of life overall.
Calcium and Vitamin D: The Dynamic Duo
So how do we replenish our calcium stores? The primary way to do this is by consuming calcium-rich whole foods. It is also important to consume foods rich in Vitamin D as our bodies don’t produce this either. The NOF recommends that women 50 years old and younger consume 1,000 mg daily; those 51 and older should be getting 1,200 mg daily. Men aged 70 and younger should be getting the same dose as women 50 and below (1,000 mg), while those above 71 should be getting 1,200 mg. Women are encouraged to increase their intake earlier than men as there is a greater incidence of osteoporosis among women.
Calcium can be found in dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese, so be sure to include them in your diet. Smaller amounts of the mineral can be found in green vegetables as well as products that have added calcium (like cereals and snacks). If you’re struggling to incorporate calcium into your diet, the NOF recommends adding nonfat powdered milk to your food—one tablespoon has about 50 mg of calcium. Still not enough to meet your daily needs? You can try taking a calcium supplement.
Vitamin D can likewise be obtained from food but it can also be a byproduct of the reaction of your skin to sunlight. But it can be tricky determining how much sun you’re getting, especially since sunscreen drastically reduces Vitamin D production—the NOF states that sunscreen with and SPF as low as 8 cuts down Vitamin D production by 95%! Meanwhile, it can also be a challenge trying to obtain Vitamin D from food as it is found in very few foods, like fatty fish. It is sometimes added to dairy products and fortified cereals. Since it is quite difficult getting the necessary Vitamin D from food alone, the NOF recommends taking supplements.
When taking bone and tooth supplements, your best bet is to go for a calcium supplement that already has some Vitamin D in the formulation. If you opt to take the two supplements separately, it’s not necessary to take them at the same time. These supplements are available without a prescription. Just make sure you choose trusted brands. The NOF also stresses the need to look at labels. Check the amount of elemental calcium (the actual amount of calcium in the supplement) and make sure you take 600 mg or less at a time for optimum absorption. If you’re taking supplements for the first time, go for a low dosage first so your body can adjust then gradually work your way up. If you’re on other medication, make sure you consult with your doctor first before starting any supplement as this may react with other meds.
Keep in mind that there can be too much of a good thing—taking more than the recommended daily values may cause a different set of health problems, so be sure to stay within limits.
If you want to start safeguarding or improving your bone and tooth health, visit Healthy Options, which carries a wide range of organic supplements and vitamins that can help you meet your health goals.
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