5 Key Nutrients for Bone Health

Your bones are the foundation of your body supporting you throughout your life. Just as you need to take care of your major organs, you need to tend to your bones in order to maintain optimal health. The best way to boost your bones, besides weight-bearing exercise, is to take in enough of the substances that strengthen and build your skeleton. Below is a rundown of the top nutrients you need for a fit frame:

  • Calcium. One of the biggies, calcium is absolutely crucial to bone health. Studies show that inadequate calcium intake leads to low bone mass and a higher risk of fractures. Children need plenty of calcium to create strong bones, and adults need it to maintain strong bones. Drinking milk is one of the best ways to get calcium into your diet, but it's not the only way. Sardines, cheeses, and other dairy products, fortified cereals, soybeans, and tofu all contain significant amounts of calcium. If you just can't manage to consume enough calcium-rich foods, take a daily calcium supplement.
  • Vitamin D. Another biggie, Vitamin D is what allows the body to absorb calcium. A great way to get Vitamin D is to expose yourself to sunshine (in moderate amounts). Getting Vitamin D from your meals is somewhat harder—foods that contain Vitamin D include egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and fortified milk. Given this limited repertoire, many people can benefit from a Vitamin D supplement.
  • Magnesium. This nutrient enhances the quality of your bones. Most of the magnesium in your body is found in your bones, and a lack of it can hinder your ability to use calcium. Go for green leafy veggies, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and oats.
  • Iron. This mineral assists various enzymes in your body in forming and strengthening your bones. Red meat is a great source of iron, but vegetarians can get it by eating fruits, vegetables, and fortified breads and cereals. Iron pills are also readily available.
  • Protein. Protein can help heal fractures, and is particularly important in the elderly population; studies show that older people who don't eat enough protein are more likely to suffer poor outcomes after breaking a hip. Sources of protein are wide and varied—poultry, meat, cheese, beans, eggs, and nuts all contain plenty of protein.



National Institutes of Health, www.niams.nih.gov