Healthy bones – nutritionist’s view

Healthy bones – nutritionist’s view

Top tips for healthy bones
Calcium is the most predominant mineral in the body and makes up to 2% of your total body weight. Around 99% of your body’s calcium is found in the skeleton and it is important for our bones however, calcium in the diet or in supplements cannot be built into bone unless the other nutrients needed for bone health are also present.

1. Eat foods rich in magnesium
An adequate magnesium intake is just as important as gettting enough calcium. Magnesium promotes the absorption of calcium and ensures its correct use in the bone.

2. Eat foods rich in calcium
When it comes to calcium, what is crucial is how your body uses it and we now know that the calcium from dairy foods is poorly absorbed – dairy products are low in magnesium which is needed for calcium absorption. Dairy can also increase the loss of calcium from the body. If you are concerned about your calcium intake, don’t worry. There are many other foods that provide calcium in a much more absorbable form, including dark green vegetables (collard greens and kale are excellent) along with broccoli, legumes (dried beans), almonds, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, tahini, cauliflower, soybeans, figs and oranges and tinned sardines.

3. Get your Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps us to absorb calcium and levels are directly related to bone strength. Sunlight is needed to make vitamin D in the body so make sure you expose your skin to at least 15 minutes of daylight everyday. Top vitamin D foods include sardines, mackerel, salmon and eggs.

4. Top up on fruit and veg
Eat lots of fruit and veg. They are pack with nutrients and a good intake (aim for 8 to 10 each day) helps ensure adequate levels of potassium, magnesium and calcium. These minerals are not only important bone nutrients but are also needed to redress the acid/alkaline balance that is crucial for bone health. Fruit and veg also provide many of the vitamins (C and K) and minerals (magnesium, calcium, zinc and boron) needed for calcium to be incorporated into the bone.

5. Eat the good fats
Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats, the ‘good’ fats, found in oily fish, nuts and seeds increase the absorption of calcium and reduce calcium loss. If you are vegetarian then opt for omega-3 eggs along with nuts and seeds. Omega-3 fats have also been shown to be anti-inflammatory so can help ease joint discomfort and inflammation.

6. Some extra must haves
A number of other nutrients are essential for bone formation so be sure to include some of the following in your daily diet. It might be a good idea to add a multi vitamin and mineral supplement to your shopping basket which can often provide the best base for a bone health programme.

Nutrients and Source

B Vitamins

Watercress, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, bananas, squash, broccoli, asparagus, lentils, kidney beans, Brussels, onions , seeds and nuts, oysters, sardines, tuna, lamb, egg, prawns, turkey, chicken,

Vitamin C

Peppers, watercress, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, kiwi fruit, Brussels, papayas, peas, melons, citrus fruits, tomatoes, mangoes

Vitamin K

Broccoli, green cabbage, lettuce, kale


Oysters, ginger, lamb, pecan nuts, dry split peas, haddock, green peas, shrimps, turnips, Brazil nuts, egg yolks, wholewheat, rye, oats, peanuts, almonds


Raisins, prunes, nuts, non-citrus fruit, vegetables, alfalfa, kelp, cabbage, leafy greens


Watercress, pineapple, okra, endive, blackberries, raspberries, lettuce, grapes, lima beans, strawberries, oats, beetroot, celery


Nuts and seeds, mushrooms, potato skin, beans, tofu, millet, barley, wheat germ

And while adding the good stuff is important, so is taking out the bad.

Foods to reduce
Salt increases the loss of calcium, opt for a low sodium alternative such as LoSalt. Sugar, tea, coffee and chocolate cause an acidic reaction in the body which results in calcium being leached from the bone

Tea contains tannins which can prevent calcium absorption, best to drink it away from your main meals. Alcohol has been shown to increase bone loss. Fizzy drinks can contain a high amount of phosphorus which leads to calcium being pulled from the bone.

This article was provided by:
Anneliese Benzie
BA(Hons), FsSc, DipION, mBANT