Enough, or Too Much – These Vitamins Play Important Roles for Health

We all want to remain as healthy as we can, especially as we age, but there are three critical vitamins that, if you get them wrong, can impact your overall health. Salt, calcium, and vitamin D are essential nutrients that play important roles in maintaining good health. However, consuming too much or too little of these nutrients can adversely affect the body. The diets of many Australians were found to be imbalanced in micronutrients according to the Australian Health Survey (AHS) in 2011-12. The data from this survey, as reported by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in their 2018 report, revealed that a high percentage of the population consumed too much sodium and not enough calcium. These results were based on a “24-hour diet recall” method, where individuals were asked to recall what they had consumed the day before, which may not be entirely accurate. Regardless, the figures showed that a significant percentage of specific age groups had inadequate calcium intake, such as 71% in boys and 90% in girls aged 14-18 and 63% in men and 91% in women aged 51-70. It’s likely that this trend has not changed much in the last decade.


Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is essential for maintaining fluid balance in the body and supporting nerve and muscle function. However, consuming too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. The recommended daily salt intake is no more than 2,300 milligrams or about one teaspoon. Lower the amount of salt you use in cooking or as a condiment. This can be challenging as our taste buds are accustomed to high salt levels in our food. However, even small reductions can make a difference, such as reducing from one teaspoon to three-quarters of a teaspoon.


Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth and helps to support muscle and nerve function. However, consuming too much calcium can lead to kidney stones and other health problems. The recommended daily calcium intake is 1,000 milligrams for adults up to age 50 and 1,200 milligrams for adults over 50. There is even an online calculator that can tell you if your getting enough calcium in your diet – Try it here. The amount of calcium absorbed from different food sources can vary. For example, about 30% of the calcium in milk is absorbed, while 50% of the calcium in bok choy is absorbed, but only 5% of the calcium in spinach is absorbed because spinach contains oxalates which bind to calcium in the gut and prevent absorption. However, it’s important to note that spinach is still a healthy food overall. Additionally, having sufficient levels of vitamin D in the body improves the ability to absorb calcium, so a deficiency in both calcium and vitamin D can have a negative impact on bone health.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth and helps the body to absorb calcium. However, consuming too much vitamin D can lead to toxicity, which can cause nausea, vomiting, and kidney damage. The recommended daily vitamin D intake is 600-800 international units (IU) for adults up to age 70 and 800-1,000 IU for adults over age 70. People who are at particular risk of vitamin D deficiency are those with dark skin, who keep their skin mostly covered with clothing, and who spend large amounts of time indoors. Getting enough sunlight on your skin in a safe way is important for vitamin D production. In the summer months in Australia, just a few minutes of sun exposure during mid-morning or mid-afternoon is enough for the skin to produce enough vitamin D. However, during the winter months in southern parts of Australia, it may require 2-3 hours of sun exposure per week to get enough vitamin D. You can check this map for more information about vitamin D and bone health.

Balance is Key

Consuming the right amount of these essential nutrients is crucial to maintain good health. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help ensure you get enough of these nutrients while avoiding consuming too much. Overall, it is vital to be aware of the recommended daily intake of salt, calcium, and vitamin D and to monitor your own intake to ensure that you are getting enough, but not too much, of these essential nutrients. Consult with a health professional if you have concerns about your nutrient intake. Supplements may help if you are deficient but if your diet is varied enough you will be consuming enough to be healthy.

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