Carotenoids: The Calcium Side Your Bones Crave

Medically reviewed in February 2020

Keep your skeleton strong and fracture-free by serving that calcium supplement with a healthy salad on the side.

Salad? Yep, salad. A 4-year study found that older adults with the highest intakes of carotenoids -- think tomatoes, carrots, and leafy greens for major sources -- retained more bone mineral density than folks eating fewer fruits and veggies.

Antioxidant Bone Protection
Fruits and vegetables are bursting with antioxidants called carotenoids -- including compounds like lycopene, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, to name a few. Don't bother trying to pronounce them. Just know that a veggie-stacked healthy salad will probably provide your daily needs and then some. (Not a fan of raw? Here are some veggies that are actually better for you when steamed.)

How They Work
Carotenoids may protect bones by stymieing the oxidative stress thought to play a role in age-related weakening of bones. They may also act synergistically with vitamin D to boost bone-cell growth. Still need more reasons to eat a healthy salad packed with carotenoids? Try these:

Is there a difference between low bone mineral density and osteoporosis? Find out here.

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