Bone health is essential to living a long, healthy, and injury-free life. And with these important nutrition and lifestyle tips, you can support a strong and resilient skeletal system for life.
As a kid, you were probably told to finish your milk for strong bones. Of course, while the calcium in dairy is important for bone health, the real key to maintaining a strong skeleton goes beyond a daily glass of 2%. That’s why we’re sharing the best tips for healthy bones that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
By adopting some or all of these science-backed strategies, you will bolster your bones with the nutrients and care they need to carry you through a long and active life.
Best Nutrition Tips for Bone Health
1. Choose Greens
Leafy green vegetables like kale, broccoli, swiss chard, and spinach are packed with the dual bone benefits of calcium and vitamin C. Together, these two essential nutrients work in tandem to keep your bones strong and ward off threats.
While calcium supports bone structure and hardness, vitamin C boosts bone density and immune functioning. One specific review study found that vitamin C can also play a role in preventing osteoporosis.
Other food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and tomatoes.
2. Reach for Protein
Protein is an important nutrient for all metabolic processes, including building muscle and maintaining strong bones. In fact, your bones are made up of 50% protein. Without protein, your bones would not be able to absorb calcium.
While you don’t need to overdo the amount of protein in your diet, be sure to eat an adequate amount to support your skeletal system. Find the right amount of protein for your size by multiplying your weight in pounds by 0.36. The result is the number of grams of protein you should consume each day.
For a bone health bonus, aim to pair protein with other nutrients, like calcium. Foods high in protein and calcium include dairy products like yogurt, milk and cheese, seeds, and sardines.
3. Make Calcium a Habit
We couldn’t leave this one off the list of the best dietary tricks for bone health, could we? While it’s important to make calcium part of your daily routine, timing also matters. It’s best to spread your calcium intake out throughout the day.
Your body can only effectively absorb 500mg of calcium at a time. And if you consume more than 1000mg at a time, your absorption rate actually decreases below 500mg. For this reason, the best strategy is to space out your calcium intake into several meals.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium for adults is 1000mg and 1300mg for growing teens. For reference, 1 cup of fortified dairy or almond milk contains 300mg of calcium.
Best Lifestyle Tips for Optimal Bone Health
1. Get Moving
While it might sound counterintuitive, weight-bearing and high-impact exercises are actually great for your bones. Jogging, lifting weights, and using resistance bands are all healthy ways to strengthen your muscles, cardiovascular system, and skeleton.
2. Get Outside
The best place to get all of that beneficial exercise? In the sun and fresh air! Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly common, especially among kids. Kids, teens and adults need at least 600iu of vitamin D daily.
We most readily absorb vitamin D directly from the sun, but depending on your climate and the season, it can be difficult to reach your recommended daily allowance in a safe way that doesn’t risk other sun-related health problems. Adding a daily vitamin D supplement can help prevent skeletal disorders and maintain strong bones.
3. Watch Your Weight
Bodyweight is another risk factor in bone health. Low body weight, in particular, can lead to osteopenia and bone loss in adults (especially women). At the same time, excess weight puts stress on your bones that can make them more prone to breaking.
Overweight or obese children are also more susceptible to bone fractures than those with healthy body weight for several reasons. Overweight is often associated with low activity and a poor diet, both of which are bone risk factors. In addition, the excess stress of body weight can weaken bones and complicate treating and recovering from bone injuries.
Bone health is central to overall wellness and healthy growth. After all, without a strong, mobile skeleton, we don’t have much to stand on! And where diet falls short, incorporating supplements with critical nutrients like calcium and vitamins C and D can go a long way in filling nutritional gaps.
At the end of the day, building healthy supplement, diet, and lifestyle habits at an early age is one of the best ways to avoid injury, promote growth, and prevent bone loss as an adult. Put these bone health tips into practice and enjoy the benefits of a healthy, thriving skeletal system for life.
What is your best tip to strengthen your bones? Please let us know below in the comment section.
Brzezińska, O., Łukasik, Z., Makowska, J., & Walczak, K. (2020). Role of Vitamin C in Osteoporosis Development and Treatment—A Literature Review. Nutrients, 12(8), 2394. doi:10.3390/nu12082394
Carter, M. I., & Hinton, P. S. (2014). Physical activity and bone health. Missouri medicine, 111(1), 59–64.
Dolan, E., & Sale, C. (2018). Protein and bone health across the lifespan. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 78(1), 45-55. doi:10.1017/s0029665118001180
Gunter, K. B., Almstedt, H. C., & Janz, K. F. (2012). Physical Activity in Childhood May Be the Key to Optimizing Lifespan Skeletal Health. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 40(1), 13-21. doi:10.1097/jes.0b013e318236e5ee
Roh, Y. E., Kim, B. R., Choi, W. B., Kim, Y. M., Cho, M. J., Kim, H. Y., Park, K. H., Kim, K. H., Chun, P., Kim, S. Y., & Kwak, M. J. (2016). Vitamin D deficiency in children aged 6 to 12 years: single center's experience in Busan. Annals of pediatric endocrinology & metabolism, 21(3), 149–154. https://doi.org/10.6065/apem.2016.21.3.149