March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Strong bones are just as important for men as women. Your body needs calcium, vitamin D and other important nutrients to make bones and teeth strong and hard. Not getting enough calcium during childhood can lead to osteoporosis later in life, a disease in which bones become weak and easily fracture or break.
Peak bone mass is usually reached by the age of 30. Learn more about the essential ways to ensure healthy bones for life.
Healthy Bones and Calcium
Men should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day from 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, sardines, tofu made with calcium sulfate, calcium-fortified non-dairy milks such as soymilk, and 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 low-fat or fat-free milk
- 1 cup low-fat or fat-free yogurt
- 1½ ounces low-fat or fat-free cheese
- ½ cup 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 the Nutrition Facts label to learn how much calcium you are getting. Calcium has a Daily Value (DV) of 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 daily vitamin D needs based on age. Per day, infants need approximately 400 IU of vitamin D; children 1 to 18 years old need 600 IU of vitamin D; men under 70 need 600 IU of vitamin D; and men older than 70 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; mushrooms grown under UV light; and fortified non-dairy milks and some brands of orange juice and cereal. Men who do not get enough vitamin D from foods should talk to their physician about the need to take a vitamin D supplement.
4 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 from food and/or supplements.
- Participate in regular weight-bearing exercise at least two days a week.
- Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake to two drinks per day.
- Talk with your health care provider about bone health.