What nutrients help build healthy bones?

Dr. Vonda Wright, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Besides calcium, there are a few other nutrients needed for bones:
  • Phosphorus: dairy, yogurt
  • Protein: meat, diary, yogurt
  • Vitamin A: fish, dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, cheese, eggs
  • Vitamin B12: meat, fish, eggs, fortified cereal
  • Vitamin C: essential for collagen formation. Collagen is the scaffold that bones are built on. Foods rich in Vitamin C include broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower, kale, lemons, strawberries
  • Vitamin K: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, olive oil, spinach
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For adults and children, men and women alike, healthy bones begin with adequate amounts of calcium and plenty of physical activity. But several other minerals play a role, too:
  • Vitamin C aids in collagen formation, which helps hold bones together.
  • Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption and directs it to the bones.
  • Potassium plays a role in retaining calcium in bones.
  • Magnesium helps build bones.
Getting enough of these nutrients is easy when you consume a variety of foods.
Ms. Ashley Koff, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Here's a quick run through of bone-building nutrients and the foods which contain them:

  • B12 (if a vegan, you need to supplement) -- eggs, salmon, sardines, beef
  • K -- spinach, chard, cabbage (fermented is great because you also get probiotics), turnip and collard greens
  • A -- orange fruits and veggies like carrots, yams, apricot, and spinach (not orange but rich in vit A)
  • B6 -- carrots, spinach, avocado, beans, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cantaloupe
  • Folic acid -- green veggies (greens greens greens!)
  • Vitamin D -- mushrooms only (this is a key one to test and supplement)
  • Vitamin C -- lemon, orange, peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes
  • Potassium -- coconut water, potatoes, banana, raisins, prunes, acorn squash
  • Copper -- raisins, beans, nuts
  • Zinc -- beans, peanuts
  • Boron -- F + V (all [real] fruits and veggies, man!)
  • Silica -- F + V (and coffee, but because of acid factor and caffeine factor, I don't include coffee in bone builders)
  • Manganese -- (re-read: this is not magnesium) avocado, seeds, nuts (especially hazelnuts and pecans)
  • Flouride -- potatoes, carrots, beans, decaf tea, toothpaste (some) only if you eat it
  • Magnesium -- soybeans (or edamame) and whole foods made from them (tofu, tempeh, soy milk), nuts, beans, leafy greens, whole grains (is not the same necessarily as whole grain flour), tomatoes
  • Calcium: Remember, bone nutrition is not calcium alone. And calcium is also found in several non-dairy choices, naturally. Dairy, sesame seeds, spinach, soybeans all contain calcium naturally.
Elizabeth Casparro, MPH,RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Many different nutrients help build healthy bones. Calcium is one of the main mineral components of bone and can be found in dairy products, broccoli, and fortified soymilk. Vitamin A aids with bone cell differentiation and can be found in fortified milk, carrots and dark leafy greens. Vitamin D aids in the absorption and regulation of calcium in bones and can be found in fatty fish, mushrooms and fortified milk. Sufficient vitamin K has been associated with less bone fractures and can be found in dark leafy greens such as kale, broccoli and mustard greens. Fluoride also helps with calcium deposition in the bone and can be found in seafood, seaweed and molasses.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.