7 Best Foods For Stronger Bones

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7 Best Foods For Stronger Bones
7 Best Foods For Stronger Bones. Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Knee image © royalstockphoto – fotolia.com (under license)

You could be suffering from low bone density without even knowing it. Hormonal changes, lifestyle, and the food we eat all affect our bone health. The foods we have listed might help your bones stay strong, but people with a family history of osteoporosis and those hitting 50 and above years of age should get their bone health checked by a doctor to make sure they’re not at risk for major injury.

Calcium-Rich Foods

Calcium is one of those tricky minerals that you should be careful with, as it can cause abnormal bone formations and renal problems if it’s taken in excess. However, you should be fine with a dietary approach to getting your daily recommended amounts, and fortunately for us, (organic) green and leafy vegetables count as one of the best sources of calcium. [1] Light steaming is better than boiling.

• Collards, frozen, cooked (189 mg of Calcium per 1/2 cup)
• Spinach, frozen, cooked (154 mg of Calcium per 1/2 cup)
• Collards, fresh, cooked (141 mg of Calcium per 1/2 cup)
• Turnip greens, frozen, cooked (104 mg of Calcium per 1/2 cup)

Soups and Stews

Vitamin D holds up pretty well against long cooking hours, and it’s a fact that we need it to make sure our bones don’t turn brittle. [2] Adding portobello mushrooms rich in this vitamin, along with meats for protein and taste, makes for a nutritious soup.


Protein taken from the food we eat helps keep the calcium in. [3] Additionally, a good percentage of calories we eat should come from protein sources, as the CDC suggests [4] – however be aware that many people in the developed world actually get to much protein. Eggs have the highest content of readily-usable protein, but soy and beans are a good option for this nutrient, too. Vegetarian options include

• Tempeh (9.6 grams of protein per cup)
• Seitan (17.5 per 3 ounces)
• Cooked lentils (7.8 grams per cup)
• Cooked black Beans (6.7 grams per cup)

Complex Carbohydrates

Barley, millet, cornmeal, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and teff are complex carbohydrates which also double as excellent sources of energy. Our bodies need whole grains to make sure we don’t break down muscles that we need to protect our bones. You also feel fuller for a longer time with complex carbs in your diet, which helps a lot if you’re trying to shed some weight.

Vitamin C-Rich Food

Vitamin C has long been known to help our bodies absorb calcium. In fact, much of the calcium we consume usually goes to waste due to their not being enough ascorbic acid! Having lots of vitamin C in our diet makes sure we’re not eating all that calcium for nothing. Although we do get vitamin C from some of the vegetables we eat, it doesn’t stand against heat too well. So add raw fruits to your diet to make up for the vitamin C lost in vegetables from cooking.

The richest sources of vitamin C are fruits such as guavas and kiwi. But for those who are having a difficult time procuring those, you can always go with oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, mangoes and pineapples. [5] Some quick reminders, though; vitamin C and iron from meat don’t mix well together, as the vitamin impedes absorption of heme iron. There are no such concerns if you take your dietary iron from non-heme sources like vegetables, since vitamin C enhances the absorption of non-heme iron as well. People with gastroesophageal reflux disease, stomach ulcers, or hyperacidity should first ask their doctor if it’s safe to eat acidic fruits or if they’ll need an alternative source.

Good Fats

There are bad fats that clog up your arteries and contribute to a heart attack, and there are good fats that are important for cellular repair and keeping your bones in top shape. [6] Although you won’t find the good kind in commercially made cakes, pies and burgers. Good fats are found in oily fish (i.e. salmon), nuts, seeds, olive and coconut oil. But keep in mind that these should still be taken in healthy moderation.

Livestock Bones

Cooked long enough, with the right ingredients, bones are the best sources of dietary calcium since they’re the storage site for it. If you’ve ever cooked with bones before, these are also a good way of adding flavor to your soups and stocks.


[1] Food Sources of Calcium. Dietitians of Canada. https://dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Osteoporosis/Food-Sources-of-Calcium.aspx

[2] The role of dietary protein and vitamin D in maintaining musculoskeletal health in postmenopausal women: A consensus statement from the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis. The European Menopause Journal. https://maturitas.org/article/S0378-5122%2814%2900234-5/abstract

[3] Dietary protein and skeletal health: a review of recent human research. US National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21102327

[4] Protein. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/protein.html#How%20much%20protein

[5] Iron and Iron Deficiency. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/vitamins/iron.html

[6] Food groups. Rochdale Borough Council. https://rochdale.gov.uk/health_and_wellbeing/healthy_eating/food_groups.aspx

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By Mike Westerdal CPT

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