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.
Peak bone mass is usually reached by the age of 30. 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 70, calcium needs jump to 1,200 milligrams a day.
Good sources of calcium include low-fat and fat-free dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese, tofu made with calcium sulfate and calcium-fortified soymilk, sardines, fortified cereals 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
- 1½ ounces low-fat or fat-free cheese
- ½ cup regular tofu (prepared with calcium sulfate)
- 1 cup calcium-fortified soymilk
- 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, so it's important to meet the daily vitamin D needs based on age. Per day, infants need approximately 400 IU of vitamin D; children 1 to 8 years old need 600 IU of vitamin D; men under 70 need 600 IU of vitamin D; and men 71-plus need 800 IU of vitamin D.
There are three ways to get vitamin D: sunlight, food and supplements. Vitamin D is only found in a few foods such as fatty fish including mackerel, salmon and tuna; egg yolks and fortified dairy products; soymilk and some brands of orange juice and cereal, if fortified. Men who do not get enough vitamin D from foods should talk to their physician about the need to take a vitamin D supplement.
5 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 and/or supplements.
- Participate in regular weight-bearing/strength training activities at least two days a week.
- Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake to two drinks a day.
- Talk with your health-care provider about bone health.
- Request a bone density test and take medication, if appropriate.