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Nutrition for Healthy Bones

Three kinds of cheese on a cutting board

Nutrition is an important part of keeping our bones healthy at every age. Calcium is one of the key nutrients for osteoporosis treatment and prevention. Most people need at least 1,000-1,300 mg of calcium a day but, many of us don’t meet that recommendation. A majority of kids and teens also fail to meet the recommended amounts of calcium in their diets however, it is vital for kids and teens to get the recommended amounts of calcium because their bones are growing the fastest at this time in their lives. Only one in ten girls and one in four boys ages 9-13 are getting enough calcium, this is often because they tend to drink sodas, juices, sports drinks and flavored waters instead of milk.

Calcium intake continues to be important throughout our lives to maintain a strong skeleton system. To meet your calcium requirements, Aim to have at least three calcium-rich foods a day. We recommend the following foods as they are excellent sources of calcium and contain at least 300 mg per serving:

  • 8 oz milk (any kind)
  • 8 oz fruited yogurt
  • 8 oz calcium-fortified orange juice
  • cup Parmesan cheese
  • cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 oz Swiss or Gruyere cheese
  • cup calcium-treated tofu
  • 3 oz canned sardines with bones

These foods have a little less calcium (100-150 mg per serving), but can be added to your diet to help you get the recommended amounts:

  • 1 packet calcium-fortified instant oatmeal
  • cup pudding
  • cup cooked collards
  • 3 oz pink canned salmon with bones
  • 2 calcium-fortified graham crackers
  • cup turnip greens or bok choy
  • 1 oz almonds
  • cup ice cream, ice milk, or frozen yogurt
  • cup white beans

Let’s not forget other nutrients needed for bone health. Vitamin D is needed for your body to absorb calcium. Few foods are sources of vitamin D, therefore a supplement may be recommended. Talk to your dietitian about whether or not you should take a vitamin D supplement.? Also have five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin K and potassium to strengthen bones. One nutrient to limit is sodium. A lower sodium diet helps keep calcium in your body. Avoid salty foods and use salt-free spices when cooking.

Topics: Nutrition
The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.