It is important to maintain both your calcium and vitamin D levels, as both are essential for keeping bones and teeth strong. As vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium, they are often mentioned together. Calcium is also important for ensuring good nerve and muscle function, blood clotting and the transport of minerals.
The most important source of vitamin D is sunlight. During the winter months, however, the sun is not strong enough (in Northern and Western Europe) to get the amount of vitamin D you need. Other sources of vitamin D include oily fish, fortified margarines and cooking fats.
Key sources of calcium include dairy products (e.g. milk, yoghurt and cheese), green vegetables (kale, broccoli, green beans, spinach), pulses and nuts. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, coffee, tea and cola. These products cause calcium to be secreted from the body more quickly.
##Sufficient calcium and vitamin D and your health
There are a number of health effects associated with calcium and vitamin D.
Sufficient calcium in combination with vitamin D reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
The Health Council of the Netherlands recommends that women with a higher risk of developing osteoporosis have an extra 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day. This includes women with dark skin or women who wear clothes that cover up their entire body and/or veils. Women who do not spend enough time outdoors also require extra vitamin D.
After the menopause it is recommended that these women consume an extra 20 micrograms of vitamin D. Make sure you have 2 to 3 portions of dairy each day to get the recommended daily amount of calcium. If that is not possible, supplements are recommended.
Sufficient calcium in combination with vitamin D reduces the risk of bowel cancer
Studies show that the risk of developing bowel cancer is reduced by consuming calcium and vitamin D. Calcium inhibits unwanted cell division (polyps) and protects the cells against bile acids. Vitamin D ensures that calcium is absorbed more effectively.
Make sure you have 2 to 3 portions of dairy each day to get the recommended daily amount of calcium.
iGene offers you an insight into your personal risks of developing conditions and tells you whether calcium in combination with vitamin D may be particularly important for you to help prevent certain conditions. In addition, an iGene Passport provides you with information on what else you can do to reduce any risks. Here we focus on behaviour that will help you maximise the benefits to your health. In the publication below you can read more about what iGene can do for you.