Eating for bone health can be easier –– and more delicious –– than you think! Add these tasty and colorful superfoods to your diet and you’ll keep your bones in tip-top shape for life.
You might know that eating calcium can help build strong bones. But what foods are high in calcium? And are there other vitamins and minerals you need to keep your skeletal system healthy and thriving.
We’ve rounded up the best superfoods for your bones.
Best Superfoods for Bone Health
Here are the top foods to add to your diet for a long life of strong, healthy bones.
1. Dark, leafy greens
Dark greens like kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, bok choy, and turnip greens are all powerhouses for your bones, thanks to a high calcium content. Not only that, but leafy greens also contain vitamin K, which plays a role in rebuilding and strengthening bones.1
2. Citrus fruits
Grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes may be a surprising superfood for your bones, but these colorful and zesty fruits are full of vitamin C. Studies suggest that a diet with enough vitamin C can help counteract bone loss. If you’re not a fan of eating the fruit as-is, freshly squeezed orange juice is another great way to eat your bone health nutrients. 2
Fatty fish like salmon are full of nutrients for bone health, including vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin D is an important compound for bone health because it helps your body maintain the right levels of calcium to strengthen your bones. However, this vitamin is not found in many foods and is most available through exposure to direct sunlight. Salmon, and in particular canned salmon, is an excellent food source of vitamin D.3
Almonds are a natural and plant-based source of calcium, potassium and protein. While dairy might be the most significant food source of calcium, not everyone can stomach it. Adding plant-based and dairy-free calcium sources like almonds, almond milk and almond butter into your diet is a great alternative to animal products. One cup of almonds contains 246 milligrams of calcium, or
Tofu is another plant-based source of protein, calcium, iron and potassium. A one-cup serving of medium-firm tofu contains 8 milligrams of potassium, nearly 100% of your daily recommended value of calcium, and 72% of your daily recommended value of iron. All of these micro and macronutrients have a hand in building and maintaining strong bones.
6. Chia Seeds
They may be small, but chia seeds pack a mighty punch when it comes to nutrition. These little seeds are high in calcium, healthy omega-3 fatty acids and protein. One ounce of chia seeds contains 3% of your daily value of potassium, 5 grams of protein, and 17% of the calcium you need in a day, as recommended by the FDA. Not to mention plenty of magnesium and iron. Sprinkle chia seeds on your smoothie bowl or make an fluffy chia seed pudding with plant-based milk and your favorite flavorings. For a calcium bonus, add almond butter!
7. Rolled Oats
Whole grains, including old-fashioned or rolled oats, are high in protein and zinc. In fact, one cup of uncooked oats contains nearly one-third of your daily recommended intake of the mineral. Zinc plays a role in helping your body produce new DNA and supports metabolic functioning.
Despite your best intentions, sometimes it can be hard to ensure your diet is well-rounded enough to check all of the boxes you need for strong, healthy bones. If that’s the case, a supplement specifically formulated for your bones can pick up the slack. This is especially helpful for parents concerned that their kids are missing essential nutrients like calcium and potassium.
1 Weber P. Vitamin K and bone health. Nutrition. 2001 Oct;17(10):880-7. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(01)00709-2. Erratum in: Nutrition 2001 Nov-Dec;17(11-12):1024. PMID: 11684396.
2 Chin KY, Ima-Nirwana S. Vitamin C and Bone Health: Evidence from Cell, Animal and Human Studies. Curr Drug Targets. 2018;19(5):439-450. doi: 10.2174/1389450116666150907100838. PMID: 26343111.
3 Holick MF. Vitamin D and bone health. J Nutr. 1996 Apr;126(4 Suppl):1159S-64S. doi: 10.1093/jn/126.suppl_4.1159S. PMID: 8642450.