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Phosphorus and a number of other minerals, such as magnesium, potassium and zinc, have critical roles in bone tissue. Vitamins—particularly vitamin D and other fat-soluble vitamins, the B vitamins and vitamin C—and macronutrients, including omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, are utilized by bone cells or tissues in support of the skeleton as well. Almost all of these nutrients are available in substantial amounts in each serving of plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. In addition, nonfat dairy foods—milk, cheese and yogurt—are good sources for calcium; ocean fish are good sources for vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids; and fish is also a good source for protein.
Calcium is not the only nutrient that is important for bone formation. Many trace minerals such as copper, manganese, zinc, and boron are also important. A deficiency in trace minerals can also predispose someone to osteoporosis. For example, boron is a trace mineral that has gained attention as a protective factor against osteoporosis. It appears that boron is required to activate certain hormones, including estrogen and vitamin D. In order to guarantee adequate boron levels, supplementing the diet with a daily dose of 3 to 5 mg of boron is recommended.
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