Nutrition Tips for Healthy Bones

  • Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are best for bone health.
  • Calcium is the building block of bones.
  • Drinking too many caffeinated beverages and alcohol can hinder your body’s calcium absorption.

The bones need nutrients for growth and maintenance. That’s why good nutrition is essential in managing and preventing osteoporosis.

Here are five tips to keep your bones strong and healthy:

1. Eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains


Studies have found that eating more vegetables and fruits can improve bone health. These foods are packed with fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, and phytochemicals that help protect against several diseases, including osteoporosis. They also contain magnesium, potassium, and vitamins C, K, and A that are crucial for maintaining bone health. They are also generally low in calories and fat.

Aim for at least four servings of vegetables, three servings of fruit daily, and four servings of whole grains daily. Whole grains have more nutrients, including magnesium and fiber than refined grains.

2. Choose healthy sources of protein and fat

Protein is a major component of bone tissue and is essential in maintaining bone health. Excellent sources of protein include plants, like beans and nuts, fish, skinless poultry, and lean meat. Plant proteins contain several vitamins, minerals, and estrogen-like compounds that promote bone preservation. Another good source of protein that also provides calcium that benefits the bone is low-fat dairy products, like milk and plain yogurt. Your total daily calories should be 25 to 35 percent protein.

Fat is also essential for your body to function properly. Choose monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, nuts, and seeds. You can also get the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from coldwater fish. However, you should only consume these fats in limited amounts. Saturated fats have been found to harm bone health in adults.

3. Get plenty of calcium

Calcium is crucial for bone health. It’s the building block of bone that prevents bone loss and fractures in older people. The typical diet of adults does not provide the recommended daily intake of 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium.

You can increase your calcium consumption by eating foods that contain high amounts of the mineral, such as dairy products, kale, broccoli, and calcium-fortified foods like juices, cereals, and tofu.

If your diet doesn’t provide enough calcium, consider taking a calcium supplement, which is also often recommended for postmenopausal women for reducing the rate of bone loss. However, you must also take vitamin D to ensure proper calcium absorption, and magnesium to keep the calcium out of the soft tissues, and direct it to the bone.

4. Limit sugar, salt, and phosphate additives

Foods that contain added sugars are high in calories, additives, and preservatives, but are low in nutrients. Most dietary guidelines often recommend limiting processed foods and beverages, like soft drinks.

Eating too much salt can also be harmful. Not only does it cause high blood pressure, but it can also increase the amount of calcium you excrete when you urinate. Limit your salt intake to 2,300 mg daily, which is equivalent to one teaspoon.

Phosphorus is another additive found in many processed foods. Excessive phosphorus intake can also interfere with how much calcium your small intestine absorbs.

Always check the label of the processed foods you buy to limit your intake of these ingredients. Opt for fresh foods whenever possible.

5. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption

Drinking more than one or two alcoholic drinks a day hinders your body’s ability to absorb calcium and speeds up bone loss. Drink alcohol in moderation; that is one drink a day for healthy women of all ages and men over 65 years old, and up to two drinks a day for men younger than 65. Drinking alcohol with meals will also affect your calcium absorption.

Caffeine can also slightly make you lose more calcium when you urinate. But much of its harmful effect may result from drinking caffeinated beverages instead of milk and other healthy drinks. If your diet provides adequate calcium, you can consume at most 3 cups of coffee daily.

Source: Mayo Clinic