Osteoporosis and a Bone-healthy Diet

It’s critical to take good care of your bones. They support your internal organs, aid in movement and balance, and transfer vital minerals like calcium and phosphorus to the body as needed. Read more about the relation between osteoporosis and a bone-healthy diet below.

It is usual for us to start losing bone mass around the age of 40, especially in women. You run a higher risk of developing osteoporosis unless you stock up on the nutrients needed to offset this loss.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis translates to “porous bone.” This illness weakens bones and increases the risk of sudden, unforeseen bone fractures.

Around 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, which makes them brittle and prone to fracturing, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. This indicates that bone health should be a concern for half of all persons aged 50 and older since they are at risk of breaking a bone.

Early on in the process of bone loss, there are often no symptoms. However, after your bones have deteriorated, you may experience back pain, gradual height loss, a hunched posture, and much more easily broken bones.

Calcium is key

Your body needs calcium to maintain healthy bones and carry out a number of other essential functions. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, which is primarily kept in the bones and teeth, where it gives them strength and structure.

The recommended daily calcium intake for adults is 1,000 milligrams, rising to 1,200 mg for all females and males over 50. Your food should cover the majority of your calcium needs, but if you require more, talk to your doctor about incorporating calcium into your multivitamin regimen.

Vitamin D is essential, too

Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption in the body. Vitamin D can be found in trace amounts in a few foods, such as milk and fish, and it can also be produced by your skin when exposed to sunlight. If you need to check your vitamin D levels, ask your doctor.

Don’t forget exercise

We all need to engage in regular weight-bearing activities to maintain bone health. This includes activities like walking, dancing, racquetball, and more.

Tips for following a bone-healthy diet

Finding foods high in calcium, vitamin D, and other necessary nutrients is the first step in making a difference in your bone health. Here is some advice I frequently provide to my patients on increasing their consumption of foods that promote bone health.

Natural calcium sources include milk, yogurt and cheese. With so many choices, picking a few you like might significantly improve your meal plan.

Additionally beneficial to bone health are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You should have four servings of these superfoods and three servings of fruit daily.

Protein is essential for bone health since it is a component of bone tissue and keeps bones strong. Fish, skinless chicken, lean meat, and plant proteins like beans and nuts are great choices.

Things to avoid for bone health

Everybody should strive to consume less salt in their diet. Salt can increase the quantity of calcium your body excretes through urination in addition to boosting blood pressure.

Limit salt consumption to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day, or about one teaspoon.

Drinking more than one or two drinks of alcohol per day speeds up bone deterioration and reduces the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Alcohol consumption during meals will also hinder the absorption of calcium. If you decide to drink, use it sparingly. Women of all ages and men older than 65 can have one drink a day in good health, while men 65 and younger can have two drinks a day.

The amount of calcium lost during urination can be increased by caffeine, including coffee and soda use. Moderate caffeine consumption—about two to three cups per day—is safe as long as your diet contains enough calcium.

Bone density testing

To determine your fracture risk, your healthcare professional might advise you to get your bone density checked. The ISCD advises evaluating bone density in women over 70, although, for those at increased risk due to family history, medicinal treatments, the occurrence of fractures, and other health conditions, this is frequently done sooner. The results of the bone density test can also be monitored over time to assist in guiding treatment.

You can age with strong, healthy bones if you lead a healthy lifestyle. Speak with your primary care physician if you want to learn more about the importance of calcium intake for bone health. To find a provider near you, visit

Heather North

Heather North, MD

UNC Health Pardee

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