Osteoporosis LTC Recommendations

2. Calcium & Vitamin D

Calcium and vitamin D are an important component to maintaining bone health. Many older adults do not get enough vitamin D from food or exposure to sunshine. If you have osteoporosis and/or are at risk for fracture, you should consume enough calcium and vitamin D through diet or supplements. Speak to your healthcare provider to learn more.

How Much Calcium Do I Need?

AgeDaily Calcium Requirement (mg) (from diet and supplements)
19-501000
Pregnant/lactating women 18+1000

Calcium

For all residents, we recommend dietary interventions to meet the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium.​​

For all older adults in LTCOlder Adults – High RiskOlder Adults – Low Risk
1200 mg daily through diet (3 servings of dairy or equivalent)500 mg supplements daily recommended500 mg supplements daily recommended*

Vitamin D

High RiskLow Risk
800 – 2000 UNITS of Vitamin D3800 – 2000 UNITS Vitamin D3*

*depending on resources and preferences

Tips

Calcium and Vitamin D are important components of a fracture prevention program

Calcium is best obtained through food
(1200 mg daily)

If unable to consume calcium through diet, calcium supplements starting at 500 mg can be taken

Calcium supplements digest easily when taken with water, in the form of calcium citrate

Those with low blood levels of vitamin D, 2000 IU of vitamin D3 may be medically advised and managed

All residents need 800-2000 units of Vitamin D3 supplements daily – diet and sun exposure alone are not sufficient

Resources

Healthy eating for healthy bones.

Learn more about calcium requirements and how to calculate your calcium needs.

Additional information on calcium and food sources of calcium is available on the Dietitians of Canada site.

Learn more about vitamin D and vitamin D recommendations

Additional information on vitamin D and food sources of vitamin D from Dietitians of Canada

Key Publications

  • A randomized controlled trial of vitamin D dosing strategies after acute hip fracture: no advantage of loading doses over daily supplementation [Papaioannou A et al. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2011]
  • Association between vitamin D3 supplementation and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in older individuals residing in long-term care in Ontario, Canada [Ioannidis G et al. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012]