To understand calcium and Vitamin D as a pair, it’s first necessary to discuss Vitamin D by itself. A fat soluble vitamin, Vitamin D contributes tremendously to the development of healthy bones and teeth. It is present in very few foods. However, man has devised means to add it to processed foods. It is an essential vitamin that aids in the absorption of calcium in the body. This helps in the strengthening of bones and prevents rickets in children. Vitamin D is a truly impressive vitamin as the body can produce it when exposed to the sun. The name “sunshine vitamin” was coined due to this interesting property.
There are two types of vitamin D; vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is from plants or fungus while D3 is synthesized by the body upon exposure to the sun though can also be found in animal products such as fish.
Nowadays, people tend to spend most of their time indoors. They are either at work in the office or at home. This has led to massive cases of vitamin D deficiencies. It is important to expose your body to the sun every time you get the chance. This ensures that your body gets the requisite amounts of vitamin D to keep you healthy.
Calcium is one of the most essential nutrients in the body of a human being. So much so that it is commonly touted as the most important nutrient. Our bones and teeth are largely made up of calcium. It also helps the heart, nerve function and the muscles. Studies show that more than 50% of Americans do not get the requisite amounts of calcium from their diets. The amount needed increases with age as bone mass reduces as you grow older. The best sources of calcium are dairy products. It helps prevent the weakening of bones in combination with vitamin D and regular exercise.
Calcium and Vitamin D Interaction
Absorption of calcium occurs in the small intestine. According to research, vitamin D facilitates the absorption of calcium in the intestines by intervening in the active calcium transport across the intestinal mucosa. Vitamin D acts in this system by two mechanisms i.e. genomic and no genomic.
The absorption of calcium occurs through two mechanisms:
- Active, transcellular absorption
- Passive, paracellular absorption occurs
The two processes are dependent on vitamin D. Due to this simple fact it is rather obvious that the two are dependent and therefore should not be consumed in isolation. For example, you should not consume a lot of calcium if you do not have sufficient vitamin D intake. According to this account of a Tufts University study http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2010/100312.htm, it can be fatal. This is because the calcium will not get absorbed into the small intestine but will instead be deposited on bones and the inside of veins and arteries. This will stifle blood flow and create foreign structures o the bones.
You should therefore ensure that you consume the recommended calcium and vitamin D quantities to avoid such occurrences.