You Are What You Eat: Healthy Diet = Strong Bones

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • Some health conditions – the common cold, for instance, or a pulled muscle – have little or no relation to what you eat every day. Others are inextricably entwined with diet and nutrition; and bone loss falls into this latter camp. Family history or other factors may make you prone to osteoporosis, but eating certain foods can definitely increase bone srength. How can what you eat impact continued good bone health?


    Calcium, calcium, calcium… vitamin D. When it comes to strong bones, it’s pretty straightforward: calcium and vitamin D are the linchpins of a bone-healthy diet.


    But it’s not as simple as drinking three glasses of milk a day. Growing up, that’s what responsible moms, bombarded regularly with messages from both the government and the dairy industry, insisted on for their kids. 

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    But these days, concerns around cholesterol and lactose intolerance, as well as interest in vegetarian and vegan diets, mean a high-dairy (high-calcium) diet isn’t appropriate for everyone.


    Whether or not you’re able to get the calcium you need from milk, cheese, and yogurt, there are plenty of other sources out there. 10 Easy Ways to Add Calcium to Your Diet offers information on easily accessible, tasty, calcium-rich foods. Top 20 Calcium Rich Foods is a guide to foods that are at the very top of the calcium heap.


    Want to branch out a bit? Calcium – 10 Different (and Tasty) Sources clues you in to the calcium benefits of the instant oatmeal you eat at breakfast, the smoked almonds you enjoy with your nightly glass of wine, the macaroni and cheese you have for dinner… and more.


    It’s not enough to simply eat a diet high in calcium; too much calcium, ingested on the wrong schedule, is just as bad for your bones as not enough. How to Take Calcium for Maximum Benefit details the optimum amount of calcium you should have at any one time, and the best schedule for taking it. Getting the Most from Calcium explains why it should be taken with vitamin D – and what foods may inhibit its absorption.


    Though calcium and vitamin D are certainly the building blocks for strong bones, they’re not the only fiddles in the string section; Beyond Calcium and Vitamin D: 5 Things to Track in Your Daily Diet offers information on the other key vitamins and minerals that impact bone health. 


    Now, what about bone-UNhealthy foods (or, in this case, drinks) – those best eliminated from your diet? 


    While wine, beer, and hard liquor are a given in many people’s lives, they may or may not be helping you maintain bone strength. When does a glass of wine help? When does a margarita hurt? Read Alcohol: Bad News for Young People, Better for Seniors to find out.


    Many of us counting calories to avoid weight gain have long relied on diet soft drinks to make the battle a bit easier. Ditch the Diet Coke? This is the Last Straw reveals why drinking plain water – or lightly flavored/sweetened water, or iced tea – may be preferable to diet soda, particularly cola.


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    Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Eating a bone-healthy diet isn’t really that complicated. Here’s a list of foods to keep in mind (and in your diet) as you do what you can to prevent osteoporosis:


    Dairy products. Ounce for ounce, ricotta cheese is highest in calcium; but all dairy products are considered a good source of calcium. To prevent calorie overload, concentrate on reduced-fat dairy, e.g., skim milk, low-fat cheese, etc.


    Fish: Canned sardines and shrimp; and bone-in salmon and mackerel (fresh or smoked) are high in both calcium, and vitamin D.


    Fruits and vegetables. They’re just good for you in so many ways, but some are especially good for your bones. Keep the following in mind:

    •Leafy green vegetables: think dark-green salad and cooking greens, e.g., kale, spinach, collard greens;

    •Tomatoes: fresh, canned, and sauce; 

    •Potatoes: white and sweet;

    •Fruit: oranges/OJ; grapefruit; pineapple; strawberries; raisins; prunes;

    •And the rest: bell peppers; Brussels sprouts; broccoli; Chinese cabbage; artichokes.


    Calcium-fortified foods: orange juice, breakfast cereal, bread, soy products (soy milk, tofu) – while not naturally high in calcium, many foods have calcium added as part of a fortification process. Be a label reader; look for the “added calcium” or “calcium-fortified” callout on the package.


    Diet – it’s not all about what you CAN’T eat, but rather what you can – and should. Eat hearty – so long as you’re eating bone-healthy.




    Osteoporosis prevention month. (n.d.). Retrieved from


Published On: March 01, 2013