Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi

The Dynamic Duo

Kathy Graves, MS, RD, LD

Some might say you can’t have bread without butter or pepper without salt. Well, the same can be said for calcium and vitamin D. That’s because you need vitamin D to absorb calcium! Calcium is important for bone health, muscle contraction, hormone and enzyme secretion, blood clotting and many other functions.

We get vitamin D through sun exposure, diet and dietary supplements. The recommended amount of vitamin D is 600 IU/day. You might be thinking what is IU!? IU stands for International Unit, which is how vitamin D is measured. Four and a half ounces of salmon will provide 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamin D. If salmon isn’t on your menu, vitamin D is also found in cheese, tuna, egg yolks and small amounts in mushrooms. Fortified foods provide the majority of vitamin D in our diets, including cereals, milk, orange juice and yogurt.

Adults age 19-50 need 1000 milligrams of calcium daily, or about three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Dairy products are the best sources of calcium like milk, yogurt and cheese. But what if you don’t like milk? As a kid, I had to drink milk every single day. Now, I don’t like drinking milk, so I have to get creative with other ways to get calcium. There are lots of vegetables rich in calcium like kale, spinach, broccoli and collard greens. Sardines and tofu are also excellent sources of calcium. So, you don’t have to like dairy products to get the recommended daily amount. There are plenty of other options!

Adding rich sources of calcium and vitamin D to your diet is as easy as 1,2,3!

Breakfast: Yogurt and granola, omelet and orange juice, or oatmeal and cranberries made with milk.
Lunch: Kale salad with yogurt dressing (see recipe below).
Dinner: Grilled salmon with brown rice, collard greens or broccoli, which are good sources of calcium and a glass of milk to drink.
Snack: Smoothie made with milk and/or yogurt (see recipe below).

Here are a couple of recipes to help you get creative with calcium!

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