Dr. Weil shares the health impact of calcium and vitamin D intake and discusses how much you should take each day.
First of all I think women have been made crazy about calcium. They don’t know how much to take, what kind of calcium to take.
Women are at higher risk for losing mineral density from bones at earlier ages than men because women’s sex hormones begin to decline in midlife and that affects calcium status.
We have been telling women to take very large doses of supplemental calcium. That may be way too much.
There is some very good research showing that countries with the highest calcium intake have the highest rates of bone fractures, hip fractures, and also the countries with the highest rates of dairy intake have the highest rates of hip fracture. Now that’s pretty astounding news but that’s the fact.
I think the key to calcium balance is vitamin D. If women get enough vitamin D they should be able to maximally absorb and use calcium from their diets.
There are many dietary sources of calcium other than milk and dairy products although milk and dairy products in moderation are fine.
But there are leafy, dark leafy greens like collards, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, sesame seeds – there are many dietary sources.
Also things like sardines mashed up with the bones, which are very good.
And you can get vitamin D by exposure to sunlight which done carefully and intelligently is your best way to get it.
I think also everybody should be taking 2000 IU a day of vitamin D as a supplement. You have to take that with your largest meal so that it will be absorbed, needs fat to be absorbed.
And on top of that I recommend that women take no more than 500 to 700 milligrams of supplemental calcium. I usually recommend calcium citrate because that’s the most absorbable form.
So if for any reason you don’t want to use dairy products and there are reasons for avoiding cow’s milk and cow’s milk products, I think if you are eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables you can maximally absorb dietary calcium if you’ve got enough vitamin D in your system.
About Dr. Weil, M.D.:
Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., was born in Philadelphia in 1942, received an A.B. degree in biology (botany) from Harvard in 1964 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1968. After completing a medical internship at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco, he worked a year with the National Institute of Mental Health before writing his first book, The Natural Mind. From 1971-75, as a Fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, Dr. Weil traveled widely in North and South America and Africa collecting information on drug use in other cultures, medicinal plants, and alternative methods of treating disease. From 1971-84 he was on the research staff of the Harvard Botanical Museum and conducted investigations of medicinal and psychoactive plants.