Eating for Bone Health 

While most of us know the impact what we eat can have on our health, you may not know how important what you eat is for your bones specifically. During National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, we wanted to shine a light on the impact nutrition has on your bone health and preventing osteoporosis. In this article, we’ll go over the nutrients essential to bone health and what foods to eat more as well as what foods to limit or avoid. 

Key Nutrients for Bone Health 

Calcium and Vitamin D are the most important nutrients for good bone health. Calcium mineralizes and strengthens bones, and without vitamin D, your body can’t absorb calcium very effectively. The two nutrients really go hand in hand for bone health and just having enough of one or the other can still lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures. In addition to calcium and vitamin D, phosphorous is also another important nutrient for bone health. 

Foods for a Bone Healthy Diet 

A lot of the foods for a bone healthy diet are foods that make up a healthy diet for your overall health as well, with a special emphasis on foods high in calcium and vitamin D. Some of the top foods for bone health include: 

  • Dairy products like low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese for the calcium they provide. Additionally, some dairy products are fortified with the vitamin D your body needs to help absorb the calcium. 
  • Canned sardines and salmon (with bones) for calcium. 
  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines for vitamin D. 
  • Collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, mustard greens, and broccoli for calcium. 

Additionally, other fresh produce can be high in magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K, which your body (and bones) also need. Some foods like breakfast foods, juices, snacks, breads, and milks are fortified with calcium and vitamin D as well, and if you are not able to get enough of either nutrient, you can talk to your doctor about taking a supplement.  

Food to Limit or Avoid for Bone Health 

While incorporating foods good for your bones is important, you also want to make sure you’re not eating or drinking things that can do harm to your bones and negate the vitamin D and calcium you’re trying to put in your body with bone healthy foods. Some foods or drinks you should limit for good bone health include: 

  • Too much of meats and other high protein foods as they can cause your body to lose calcium. 
  • Foods with too much sodium (salt) as this can also cause your body to lose calcium and can eventually lead to bone loss. Many processed and canned foods are high in sodium, so limiting how much processed foods you’re eating and trying to eat fresh as much as possible can be helpful.
  • Too much alcohol can lead to bone loss, so limit or avoid alcohol. 
  • Too much caffeine, whether from coffee, tea, or soft drinks, can dcrease calcium absorption and lead to bone loss. While you don’t have to cut these out entirely, it’s best to keep them in moderation. 
  • While more research is still needed, there is some additional research that soft drinks, especially colas, may be harmful to your bone health for reasons other than the amount of caffeine they contain.