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4 Great Foods for Healthier Bones

4 Great Foods for Healthier Bones

Calcium-rich dairy isn't the only way to boost your bones. Check out these foods for a stronger skeleton.

Your body needs the right nutrients in the right amounts to maintain bone mass. You already know about calcium and vitamin D. But do you know about other nutrients that can help keep your skeleton strong? Increasing your knowledge about diet and bone health puts you in a more powerful position when it comes to keeping your frame in tip-top shape.

Bone builders
Your body needs more than just the "big players"—calcium and vitamin D—to keep your bones strong. They're just the beginning; you need a variety of nutrients working together. And here is just a sample of some foods that can get you there:

  • Low-fat yogurt: Sure, no getting around it. Your body needs calcium to help build and maintain strong bones. And yogurt has lots. So does milk, cheese, turnip greens, and fortified orange juice. Still, it's hard to get all you need from food, and consuming too little increases the risk of bone loss and fractures. So you'll probably need a supplement to get 1,500 milligrams a day. But follow your own doctor's dose instructions if you have osteoporosis. Watch this video for tips on boosting your calcium intake.
  • Salmon: It's a good source of vitamin D, which helps your body absorb and use calcium. Salmon has D galore. You can also find it in egg yolks and fortified beverages. Or let your skin make it by spending about 20 minutes a day outside in the sun with arms and legs exposed. Yep, tricky to do in the winter. That's probably why about 75 percent of people are deficient in D. Salmon is also a good source of protein and vitamin B12, two more things that our experts recommend for strong bones. Find out if you should get your vitamin D levels tested.
  • Spinach: Leafy greens like spinach provide magnesium and vitamin K, two important helpers when it comes to building bone. If your body doesn't have enough magnesium, your bones could become more brittle and breakable. (You'll find magnesium in cashews, brown rice, and bananas, too). And research shows that if you run low on K—a nutrient found in abundance in most leafy greens—your risk of fracture could jump as much as 30 percent.
  • Bananas: These tropical treats are one of the best sources of potassium around. And studies have found that potassium lovers have stronger skeletons. But get yours from food, not supplements. The supplement form can be bad for your heart. Besides bananas, other good sources include baked potatoes, plums, and tomatoes.

Bone breakers
While you're focusing on foods that help your body build bone, you'll also want to avoid excessive amounts of things that can deplete your bones—things like salt, caffeine, and colas. And control your intake of protein and vitamin A. Your body needs some of each, but too much is bad for bones. And take it easy on alcoholic drinks, too.

Medically reviewed in January 2019.

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