Strong bones are just as important for men as women. Your body needs both calcium and vitamin D to make bones and teeth strong and hard. Not getting enough calcium during childhood can lead to osteoporosis later in life; with this disease, bones become weak and easily fracture or break.
A man's bone mass peaks around age 20. Eating calcium-rich foods and getting enough vitamin D is essential to ensure your bone health for life.
Healthy Bones and Calcium
Men should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day with either foods or supplements. After age 50, calcium needs jump to 1,200 milligrams a day.
Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese; tofu made with calcium sulfate; sardines and fortified cereal and orange juice. Men need at least three servings of calcium-rich foods every day. A serving of calcium is equivalent to:
- 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free milk
- 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free yogurt
- 1 ½ ounces low-fat or fat-free cheese
- 1½ cups cooked edamame (soybeans)
- 1 cup calcium-fortified juice
- 3 ounces canned sardines, with bones.
How Much Calcium Is in Your Food?
Read package labels to learn how much calcium you are getting. Calcium is listed as a part of the Daily Value (DV), which is 1,000 milligrams a day.
If a label reads:
- 30% DV of calcium = 300 milligrams
- 20% DV of calcium = 200 milligrams
- 10% DV of calcium = 100 milligrams
The Role of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a key nutrient that helps bones absorb calcium. Children need approximately 400 IU of vitamin D; men under 50 need 200 IU of vitamin D each day; men 51 to 70 need 400 IU; and men 71+ need 600 IU of vitamin D each day.
There are three ways to get vitamin D: sunlight, food and supplements. Vitamin D is only found in a few foods like fatty fish like mackerel, salmon and tuna; egg yolks and fortified milk; soymilk and some brands of orange juice and cereal. Men who do not get enough vitamin D from foods need to take a vitamin D supplement daily.
Five Ways to Keep Bones Strong
Bone health is dependent on lifestyle choices. Here are some key things men can do to keep bones strong for life:
- Get enough calcium and vitamin D every day with food or supplements.
- Participate in regular weight-bearing/strength training activities (at least eight to 10 exercises two to three times per week).
- Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake to two drinks a day.
- Talk with your health-care provider about bone health.
- Have a bone density test and take medication, if appropriate.