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11 Best Foods For Strong Bones – Foods To Eat And Avoid To Improve Bone Health

Medically reviewed by Dr. Sarah Brewer, MSc (Nutr Med), MA (Cantab), MB, BChir, RNutr, MBANT, CNHC
by
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
11 Best Foods For Strong Bones – Foods To Eat And Avoid To Improve Bone Health September 26, 2018

Strong bones are essential for good health. But due to aging, genetics, and unhealthy diets, millions of women and men suffer from brittle bones. Brittle bones cause about 8.9 million osteoporotic fractures per year (1)! Moreover, women start losing bone density from the age of 30, which makes them more prone to falls, fractures, and premature aging. But there’s a way you can revert this problem.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal And Skin Diseases, consuming foods rich in calcium and/or vitamin D is the best way to strengthen your bones (2). This article lists the 11 best bone strengthening foods that can help protect you from osteoporosis, improve your overall structure, and save you from paying soaring medical bills. Take a look.

11 Bone Strengthening Foods

Here are the best foods that can help strengthen your bones:

1. Yogurt

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Yogurt is a good source of probiotics, calcium, potassium, and vitamins D, A, and folate. Scientists have found that consuming yogurt on a daily basis can help prevent fractures (1). If you have weak bones, it is best to consume yogurt fortified with calcium.

How Much To Consume

Consume at least one serving of yogurt per day. You can add it to your smoothies or breakfast bowl, make salad dressings, or add it to fruit salads.

2. Milk

Milk is another primary source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins A and D (3). You can keep your bones strong by consuming cows’ milk. You can also drink milk that’s fortified with calcium and vitamin D. However, choose lactose-free milk if you have lactose intolerance.

How Much To Consume

Consume about 2 glasses of milk per day.

3. Dark Leafy Greens

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Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula (or rocket spinach), lettuce, and chard are great sources of calcium, antioxidants, and vitamins C and K (4). Consuming at least three different types of dark leafy greens every day can help you get stronger bones and strengthen your immunity.

How Much To Consume

Consume 3 cups of three different dark leafy greens per day.

4. Cheese

Cheese is made from milk and is hence a great source of calcium. It is also a great source of vitamin A, vitamin B12, zinc, and phosphorus (5). By consuming cheese on a regular basis, you will not only add flavor and taste to your food but also protect your bones from becoming brittle. If you are lactose intolerant, you can consume cheddar cheese that contains negligible or no lactose at all.

How Much To Consume

Consume about ½ -1 ounce of cheese per day.

5. Fish

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Fish like sardines, tuna, catfish, and salmon are whole food sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption from the intestines and promotes mineralization of bone (6).

How Much To Consume

Consume two portions (3-6 oz) of fish per week. It is best to have it grilled or baked for lunch or dinner.

6. Eggs

Egg yolks are a great source of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins D, A, E, and K. Vitamin D is essential for calcium to get absorbed and improve bone health. Make sure you consume whole eggs instead of just the whites.

How Much To Consume

Consume up to five whole eggs per week.

7. Fortified Cereals And Juices

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Calcium-fortified cereal bars and juices are an excellent way to pump up your body’s calcium levels. You can buy calcium-fortified orange juice and have it with your breakfast. Or eat a fortified cereal bar before or after your workout or if you have missed your breakfast.

How Much To Consume

Consume 1-2 servings of fortified juice or cereal per day.

8. Nuts And Nut Butters

Nuts are loaded with healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. Scientists found that consuming mixed nuts every day could help improve your overall health as well as bone health (7). You can eat nuts whole or crush them and add to smoothies, breakfasts, and salads.

Almond butter is a great source of protein and calcium (8). This vegan butter is low in cholesterol, tastes rich and good, and protects your heart. You can add almond butter to smoothies, breakfast bowl, and desserts.

How Much To Consume

Consume a handful of mixed nuts per day.
Consume 1-2 tablespoons of almond butter per day.

9. Broccoli

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Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is known for its many health benefits. It is a good source of calcium, vitamin C, potassium, phosphorus, folate, and vitamin K (9). Consuming broccoli on a daily basis can help you get strong bones and teeth. It also helps you lose weight and fight high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes.

How Much To Consume

Consume 1 serving of broccoli once in every two days.

10. Seeds

Seeds are among the best sources of calcium (10). They are also rich in proteins, dietary fiber, healthy fats, phosphorus, iron, and potassium. You can consume flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, melon seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds by adding them to your breakfast bowl, smoothies, salads, or egg and avocado toast.

How Much To Consume

Consume 1-2 tablespoons of seeds per day.

11. Beans

Beans are basically legumes. They are not only great sources of protein but are also rich in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. A study on rats that had their ovaries removed showed that eating legumes helped to compensate for an estrogen-deficiency by preventing bone loss (11). Consume bean sprouts, lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and cowpeas.

How Much To Consume

Have ½ -⅔ cup of beans three times a week.

These are the best foods to consume to prevent bone loss and build strong bones. But there are certain foods that you should steer clear of so that the bone strengthening foods give you quick results. Take a look at the list of foods you must avoid.

Foods To Avoid

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Avoid the following to build strong bones:

  • Very Low-Calorie Diets

Very Low-Calorie Diets (VLCD) allow the dieters to consume about 500 calories, which means you will lose out on a significant amount of nutrients. If you continue being on a VLCD for several days, your bones and muscles can weaken unless the diet is fortified with sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals. Avoid VLCD when you can lose weight by consuming healthy foods in adequate amounts and exercising.

  • Salty Foods

Avoid salty foods, such as fries, chips, fried chicken, salami, and sausage, if you suffer from osteoporosis. Scientists found that high amounts of salt negatively impacted the bone health, irrespective of calcium supplementation (12).

  • Alcohol

Consuming alcohol in excess can lead to lower bone mineral density. Several studies have shown association that heavy drinkers are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis than light drinkers or those who don’t drink at all (13), (14).

  • Caffeine

Caffeine is typically found in teas, coffees, and energy drinks. Consuming too much caffeine per day can deteriorate the health of your bones and make them prone to fractures (15).

  • Soft Drinks

Soft drinks are not good for you in any way. Studies on rats have shown that there might be an association between colas or soft drinks and kidney damage, which could also damage your bones (16).

There you have it – foods to eat and avoid to get strong bones. Try adding the good foods to your diet and cut out on the foods that are unhealthy and potentially harmful for you. Do that, and your problems will be solved to the bones! ;) Take care!

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