The 8 Best Foods for Bone Health

The 8 Best Foods for Bone Health

Image: Anthony Albright

Osteoporosis and the painful broken bones that accompany it do not have to be a part of normal aging; there are preventative measures you can take to promote optimal bone health and limit your risk of bone loss later in life. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, an estimated 44 million Americans over the age of fifty are at risk for weakened bones and osteoporosis. But no matter how old you are, the habits you adopt now can have a long-range impact on your bones.

Along with regular exercise, the avoidance of smoking, and limiting alcohol to two or three drinks a week, diet is one of the most efficacious ways in which we can nurture our bones.

Most of know we need calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones, but the components that comprise our skeleton are living tissue and require more than just a glass of milk. A good set of bones also requires a constant and adequate supply of protein, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin K. The following 8 foods are each especially abundant in nutrients that give your bones a boost; treat your bones well now, and they will return the favor later on in life.

1. Bananas

These powerhouses pack a mighty punch of potassium, which helps prevent the loss of calcium from the body.

2. Canned sardines

The one-two combo of calcium and vitamin D in canned sardines make them a valuable ally for your bones.

3. Orange juice

Orange juice doesn’t have calcium or vitamin D, but it’s often fortified with them; plus, studies have shown that the ascorbic acid in orange juice may help with calcium absorption.

4. Prunes

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, studies suggest that prunes (also more poetically known as “dried plums”) may have more powerful, positive effects on bones than other fruits and vegetables.

5. Roasted pumpkin seeds

Along with bone-loving phosphorous, potassium, protein, zinc, and copper, pumpkin seeds are a tremendous source of important magnesium.

6. Olive oil

The intake of olive oil has been related to the prevention of osteoporosis in experimental and in vitro models, according to a 2012 study.

7. Dark leafy greens

Kale, collard greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard and spinach, as well as Brussels sprouts, boast healthy amounts of important bone nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K.

8. Yogurt

Many people rely on milk for their calcium, but yogurt has calcium and more, along with all of those healthy probiotics. For example, a one-cup serving of organic Stonyfield plain, fat-free yogurt has 35 percent of the daily requirement for calcium, along with 25 percent vitamin D, 30 percent phosphorous, 8 percent magnesium, as well as other bone-health promoting nutrients, all for 110 calories.

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Melissa Breyer is a Brooklyn-based writer specializing in food, science, and design.