Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Healthy Eating: Taking Calcium and Vitamin D

Healthy Eating: Taking Calcium and Vitamin D

Introduction

Bone thinning occurs as part of aging. After age 30, men and women begin to lose bone mass. If over time your bones thin so much that they become fragile and in danger of breaking, you have osteoporosis.

  • You can slow bone loss and could even prevent osteoporosis by eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
  • Calcium is found in many foods. These include dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. It's also in fortified orange juice and many vegetables.
  • Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is especially critical for women in the first few years after menopause. During this time, bone mass is lost faster.
  • If you do not get enough calcium and vitamin D from the foods you eat, talk to your doctor about how you can get the right amount. You may need to take supplements.
  • If you have osteoporosis, it's important to get enough calcium and vitamin D and take prescribed medicine for the disease.
How can you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your daily diet?

How can you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your daily diet?

Many foods have lots of calcium.

Calcium is in foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Vegetables like broccoli, kale, and Chinese cabbage have calcium. You can get calcium if you eat the soft edible bones in canned sardines and canned salmon. Foods with added (fortified) calcium include some cereals, juices, soy drinks, and tofu. The food label will show how much calcium was added.

One good source of calcium is fat-free milk fortified with vitamin D. Four cups a day have about 1,200 mg of calcium. Other good sources include shrimp, blackstrap molasses, and almonds.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. It's in foods such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. It's also in cheese, egg yolks, and beef liver. You can also get vitamin D from fortified foods. These include milk, some cereals, orange juices, and yogurts. It's also in margarines and soy drinks.

Everyone who has osteoporosis should try to eat a diet rich in these nutrients. Some people may need to take a calcium supplement with vitamin D.

Types of calcium supplements include:

  • Calcium carbonate. It is 40% elemental calcium.
  • Calcium citrate. This is 21% elemental calcium. Calcium citrate is easier to digest than calcium carbonate. It also does not cause constipation as much as other types of calcium supplements.
  • Calcium gluconate and calcium lactate. These have a low amount of elemental calcium.

You can get calcium supplements at most grocery stores and drugstores. They come in tablets, chewables, and capsules. Not all supplements contain the same amount of calcium or contain vitamin D. Read the label to see which one is best for you.

The amount of calcium and vitamin D that you need to take depends on your age, your health, and how much calcium you get from the foods you eat. Ask your doctor what is right for you. Be careful not to take more than you need.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details