20 foods for healthy bones

20 foods for healthy bones
April 20, 2014 8:01 AM

Bones are the main structural support of our body. We all wish to have strong and healthy bones because the weakening of bones can make your life, eventually, miserable. Bone health depends upon the proper intake of bone building nutrients. All the essential nutrients for improving bone strength can be gained through natural food sources.


When someone asks about the nutritional value of milk, the most spontaneous answer that will hit your mind is the “high calcium value” of milk. No doubt, milk is the richest source of calcium among all other calcium containing foods. Milk is known for its bone building nature since the ancient time. So whenever you are going to talk about the foods that make your bones healthy, you cannot afford to miss milk.

But why is calcium so important for making our bones strong?

It’s because calcium is the chief or main structural component of our bones. Our bones are made of interlocking crystals of calcium that provide mechanical strength to them. That is why our bones stay strong as long as we are consuming the right amount of calcium. A cup of fat free milk can give you up to 300 mg of calcium. Adults, especially females, should drink at least 2 glasses of milk daily to keep their bones in a healthy state. Drinking milk in adulthood can save you from various bone diseases like osteoporosis in old age. But young, growing children need more amount of calcium as compared to adult because their bones are in the growing phase, which means more calcium and other minerals. 3 glasses of milk daily will work fine for your growing little champions.


Nature has blessed yogurt with so many health benefits. The one amongst them is the bone building effect. Nothing can outclass the significance of dairy products in uplifting the bones healthy. If you find the taste of milk a bit offensive, then you must try eating yogurt as it contains the same amount of calcium as in milk. So, eating yogurt is the best way to meet the daily requirement of calcium.

8 ounces of plain yogurt contain approximately up to 450 mg of calcium. Apart from calcium, yogurt contains many other nutrients like vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B and proteins. Vitamin D is the key component among all these nutrients for making the bones healthier and stronger. Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium from the gut. Our bones can retain the calcium only when there is an adequate amount of vitamin D in the body. Eat more yogurt to keep your bones strong and fit. Those who are weight conscious, they can eat fat free plain yogurt.


How can we forget the cheese while talking about the bone strengthening dairy products? Cheese is the most famous among all other dairy products. It is used worldwide in a number of food items and bakery products. The best thing about cheese is its delicious taste. Those who do not prefer milk and yogurt, they can gain many health benefits from cheese. Cheese is full of many healthy nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B and vitamin D. One ounce of swiss cheese can give you up to 200 mg of calcium. Taking a small of cheese every day in your diet will help in strengthening your bones.

But that was the one side of the picture. The other side is a bit ugly. Although the cheese is full of calcium and other essential nutrients, yet you need to be cautious while consuming cheese in more than the recommended amounts. Eating too much cheese will do more harm than good. Cheese is not only rich in calcium, but it also contains a lot of fats that can make you obese and prone to many health risks like heart diseases and strokes. It’s entirely in your hands whether you want be harmed or not. Eating cheese in right amount will keep you away from many bone problems in the later age.


Many people have a misconception that milk and other dairy products are the only source of calcium. Well, this is not true. There are many other rich sources of calcium apart from dairy products. Among the non dairy sources of calcium, sardines are an excellent source. These tiny, small looking fishes not only taste delicious, but they also possess many health benefits for our bones as well. Sardines are rich in calcium and vitamin D, the two main constituents that are inevitably required by our bones. Calcium gives structural support to bones while vitamin D enables your body to absorb more and more calcium. 3 ounces of sardines can provide you calcium equal to that present in one cup milk, fulfilling up to 35% of your daily requirement of calcium. Sardines are rich in vitamin B 12 that keeps the level of homocysteine in the body low. Elevated levels of homocysteine, otherwise, can accelerate osteoporosis and bone degeneration.

Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds are an excellent choice for getting stronger bones and joints. Sesame seeds are a wholesome of essential nutrients like calcium, copper, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B1 and dietary fibers.

Sesame seeds are healthy for bones in following ways:

  • Calcium and phosphorus help in strengthening the bones
  • Copper has got an antioxidant and protective role. It is the main component of many antioxidant enzymes. So it protects the bones from the damage of substances produced as the result of oxidative processes in the body. Copper also takes an active part in the alignment of collagen fibers in the bones. These collagen fibers are the main ground substance of bone structure.
  • Zinc in sesame seeds was found to be effective in slowing down the osteoporosis.


If you wish to get stronger bones, one way is through eating salmon. Salmon is a very good source of vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids. Vitamin D helps in calcium absorption and deposition into the bones. Omega 3 fatty acids provide protection to bones against inflammation and damage. Omega 3 fatty acids are proved to be effective in arthritis and osteoporosis due to their anti inflammatory action.

Collard greens

Do you want to get more calcium without drinking milk? Yes, you can make it possible through eating collard greens. Collard greens are a wonderful source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin A. All these nutrients, more or less, are necessary for bone growth and strength. One cup of collard greens contains approximately 25% of the daily recommended amount of calcium. Collard greens are also known for their antioxidant role. The antioxidants found in collard greens are able to fight the toxic free radicals in the body. By warding off these toxic radical, collard greens impart a protection to bones against many degenerative diseases of bones like osteoporosis and arthritis.


Spinach is an amazing source of bone strengthening vitamins and mineral. It is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K, iron and folate. One cup of spinach can provide 25% of the total daily amount of required calcium. Apart from calcium, vitamin K in spinach is also very beneficial for bone strength. Vitamin K inhibits the activity of osteoclasts, the cells that cause the breakdown of bone. The iron and folic acid are absorbed by bone marrow cell to improve the production of blood cells. Thus, eating spinach can provide so many health benefits to your bones.

Fortified cereals

No doubt, the natural food sources have no match. Natural sources contain all the nutrients in a very balanced amount. But with the passage of time, even the natural sources of foods have lost their nutritional value. Even overcooking of foods can destroy the essential nutrients present in them. That is why a number of fortified foods are available in the market just to compensate the nutritional requirements of the body. If you want to get the proper amount of calcium and vitamin D, then fortified cereal are the best choice to go for. Fortified cereals contain balanced amount of calcium, vitamin D and other bone supporting vitamin and minerals.


Are you looking for something delicious, nutritious and healthy for your bones? You cannot think of anything more nutritious and tasty than tofu. The high calcium content of tofu makes it a perfect choice for the health of your bones. 4 ounces of tofu contain up to 77% of daily recommended value of calcium. Tofu is loaded with some natural antioxidant compounds called isoflavones that shield your bones and joints from inflammation.


Here comes another effective food for your bone health. Although soybeans contain only little amount of calcium yet they hold great significance in maintaining the bone strength. Researches were conducted to study the role of soybeans in promoting the bone health. Surprisingly, it was found that soybeans have got a natural tendency to fight against osteoporosis, a bone thinning disease. The natural antioxidant compounds called isoflavones contained within soybeans are responsible for their bone protecting effect.


Eating beans is the healthiest way to get more calcium in your diet. Especially people who are always conscious about their weight, they can safely eat beans without putting on weight because beans have a low calorie value. Eat a lot of healthy beans like kidney beans, white beans and black beans to get stronger bones. Beans are excellent natural sources of calcium, magnesium, proteins, fibers and many other trace, but essential, elements.

Orange juice

A glass of orange juice daily can save you from many bone diseases. But how can orange juice be beneficial for bones? Our bones are composed of a central core of collagen protein fibers. These fibers cross link to each other which gives a structural support and strength to bone. Surrounding these collagen fibers are interlocked crystals of calcium and phosphate, providing additional tensile strength to bones. For the synthesis of these collagen fibers, vitamin C is essentially required. You can find a plentiful amount of vitamin C in orange juice. This is how vitamin C strengthens our bones by collagen deposition.


Having a handful amount of nuts like almonds and walnuts can secure your bones from many diseases. Nuts contain polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids, very strong antioxidants. These antioxidants prevent inflammation, increase calcium absorption and decrease the bone resorption by inhibiting osteoclasts, the cells that break down the bone matrix.


Eggs are not your enemies. They are rich in vitamin B complex and vitamin D, nutrients that are crucial for the healthy growth and maintenance of bones. Leafy vegetables: Go green. Eat more and more vegetables because this is the best way to get all the crucial nutrients that are needed to sustain the strength of your bones. You cannot only rely on dairy products for fulfilling the calcium need of your body. Develop the habit of eating dark leafy green vegetables as they contain abundant amount of calcium, magnesium, iron, folic acid, potassium and vitamin K.


Sun light is not the only way to get natural vitamin D. There are many other sources of vitamin D like tuna fish. This fatty fish promises to make your bones strong by providing you with a handsome amount of vitamin D. Your body is unable to absorb calcium unless you have plenty of vitamin D in your body.


Like orange juice, kiwi fruit is another fantastic natural source of vitamin C. Consuming a diet rich in vitamin C will promote the synthesis of collagen fibers in bones. Thus, kiwi is a magical bone building food that everyone must eat to keep their bones flexible and fracture free. Prunes: Sweet and delicious prunes are one of the super healthy foods for bones. It has been proven through research that prunes can effectively reduce the risks of osteoporosis and fractures, especially in post-menopausal women who are prone to bone and joint problems. Prunes contain nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K and antioxidants that are necessary for keeping the bones healthy.

Meat Proteins

Our bones are nothing else but a combination of collagen protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals. That is why proteins are needed for the proper growth and flexibility of bones. Meat or high protein foods must be a part of your diet. But be careful while eating meat because consuming too much meat can pose many other health risks.

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Published: April 20, 2014 8:01 AM
Next scheduled update: April 20, 2016 8:01 AM
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