Your skeleton is quite literally the backbone of your body. By your early 20s, you reach peak bone mass formation, which is the strongest and most dense your bones will ever be. After you reach peak bone mass, your bones start to naturally degenerate over time. If you have especially porous bones, you could develop osteoporosis, a degenerative disease that involves brittle bones.
Luckily, osteoporosis is preventable. By incorporating bone-friendly foods into your diet and getting enough exercise, you can keep your bones strong and healthy for as long as possible.
Our experts at Valerius Medical Group & Research Center recommend foods with nutrients that are especially bone-friendly, such as protein, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and vitamins D, C, and K. Here’s a list of foods you can eat to maintain strong, healthy bones.
Remember those “Got milk?” commercials? Well, turns out they were onto something. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are high in calcium, one of the most critical nutrients for bone formation and maintenance. When choosing dairy, try to purchase products that don’t have a lot of additives like sugar.
Rich in vitamin C, oranges and orange juice help your body produce the things it needs for strong bones. For instance, vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, which is a protein that supports healthy bones and joints. Choose an orange juice fortified with calcium for a double whammy.
Spinach, collards, kale, arugula, beet greens, swiss chard. All of these leafy greens and more can support your skeleton by offering up impressive amounts of vitamins C, E, K, and various B vitamins, along with minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. A salad a day doesn’t sound so bad now, right?
There aren’t many foods rich in vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones, but salmon is one of those rare foods. Salmon is also an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium (especially the canned variety with the bones). The omega-3 fatty acids help keep inflammation at bay, while the other suite of nutrients promotes strength and longevity.
Eggs are another food with a decent amount of vitamin D. One egg yolk contains 5% of the daily value for vitamin D. These little beauties also contain high-quality protein (6 grams in a large egg) and a smattering of essential minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
Most nuts and seeds boast an impressive nutrient profile, but a select few are especially good for combatting bone degeneration. Macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds contain calcium, magnesium, zinc and other essential nutrients.
This diverse group of vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and more. They all offer their own unique nutrient profile, but commonalities include folate and vitamins C, E, and K.
Low in calories but high in nutrients, asparagus provides your body with ample calcium and magnesium, along with vitamins A, K, and C. And for a plant, asparagus is surprisingly high in protein (more than 4 grams per cup, boiled).
Soy in any form is a great addition to an osteoporosis-prevention diet. Soybeans are a plant-based source of complete protein, and they also contain omega-3 fatty acids. When choosing soy products, look for varieties that have been fortified with calcium and vitamin D, such as soy milk.
Throughout this article, you may have noticed the word “fortified” tossed around. Fortified foods refer to foods that have been supplemented with nutrients you wouldn’t normally find in those foods naturally. For example, milk is often fortified with vitamin D, and orange juice is often fortified with calcium.
To learn more about nutrition and osteoporosis, check out our osteoporosis FAQ. To schedule an appointment with one of our bone health experts, call our office in Los Alamitos, California, at 562-294-6533 or request an appointment online.