Bone Health: More Than Just Calcium

Your skeletal frame is constantly breaking down and remodeling itself so it needs a steady supply of bone-building nutrition to keep it healthy and strong. Most people only think of calcium when they think of bone-building nutrients, but strong, healthy bones need more than just calcium. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals is essential for a healthy skeletal system. Vitamins D, K and B-12 and the minerals magnesium, boron and silicon all enhance calcium absorption and bone formation and maintenance.  

Bone-Building Foods:

Dairy products are the richest source of calcium, but many people have trouble digesting the milk sugar lactose. Fortunately, Lactaid milk and milk products and oral supplements of the enzyme lactase are available almost everywhere. There are also several non-dairy sources of calcium and other bone-building nutrients, including many fruits and vegetables and some nuts. Broccoli, kale, swiss chard, bok choy, collard greens, tofu, blackberries, raspberries, black currants and figs are all good non-dairy, vegetarian calcium sources. Almonds and sesame seeds, which also contain magnesium, are other good choices. Canned salmon and sardines, because they contain the bones of the fish, are other rich sources of calcium as well as Omega 3 fatty acids. Toss them in a salad with some broccoli and sprinkle with slivered almonds and sesame seeds. Soy protein contains isoflavones, compounds that scientists believe support bone development and maintenance. Research has shown that certain compounds particularly in fermented soy foods (such as tempeh and miso) may help build and sustain bones.

Foods/Beverages to Avoid

Avoid excessive consumption of salt, refined sugar, alcohol, coffee and cola which impair the absorption and increase the excretion of vital bone-building nutrients.


It’s best to obtain your vitamins and minerals by eating well-balanced, nutritious meals, but supplements can help when your diet falls short.  The following vitamins and minerals are particularly important in maintaining and building bone mass:

Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium in the gastrointestinal tract. Sources include sunlight, fortified milk, salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. I’ll talk more about this vital nutrient in my next blog.

Vitamin K binds calcium and other minerals to the bone. Sources include kale, spinach, collard, beet and mustard greens, brussels sprouts, and broccoli.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency has been linked to osteoporosis, though the exact relationship is unknown.  Sources include beef, poultry and seafood and fortified cereals.

Viamin C has recently been found to prevent bone loss. It plays a key role in the formation of collagen which is an important constituent of the bone matrix. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, may also decrease the impact of oxidative stress which weakens bone.

Magnesium enhances the deposit of calcium into bones. Good sources include almonds, green leafy vegetables, peas, whole grains, seeds, black and white beans.

Boron is a trace mineral involved in calcium metabolism. Sources include apples, pears, cherries, cabbage, legumes and nuts.

Silicon is important in the growth and maintenance of bones, ligaments and tendons. Sources include asparagus, cucumbers, leafy greens, olives, radishes, rice and oats.

If you’re unable to obtain enough bone-building nutrients from your diet or you’re at risk for osteoporosis, a supplementary product I recommend is Bone-Up by Jarrow. It contains a very absorbable form of calcium, plus all of the other important bone-building co-factors. You can find it at Whole Foods and most health food stores. Of course if you are taking any medications, be sure to check with your doctor before adding any new supplements.

In in addition to bone-building nutrients weight-bearing exercise and resistance training is essential for a healthy skeleton. So be sure you’re walking/hiking, dancing or running AND strength training to build and maintain your bone mass. This is just a quick overview of bone-building nutrition. For more information on how a comprehensive, customized nutrition program can enhance your health, please visit my website.

Be Well,



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5 Responses to “Bone Health: More Than Just Calcium”

  1. trainmas Says:

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