Osteoporosis and nutrition: 5 key steps
A bone-healthy diet can help in preventing and managing osteoporosis.
Like any living tissue, bones need nutrients so that they can grow and then maintain that growth. That's why a key component to both managing and preventing osteoporosis is good nutrition. Is there a bone-healthy diet? The answer is yes. Here are five steps to eating well for strong bones.
1. Eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains
Studies show that eating more vegetables and fruits will lead to improved bone health. These foods are generally lower in calories and fat and are high in fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. They also contain phytochemicals, substances that can help protect against a variety of diseases, including osteoporosis.
Aim to eat four or more servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit each day. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of magnesium, potassium, and vitamins C, K and A. All play a role in maintaining bone health.
Also eat four servings of grains daily. Choose whole grains when possible because whole grains contain more nutrients, especially magnesium and fiber, than do refined grains.
2. Choose healthy sources of protein and fat
Protein is important for bone health, because it's a major component of bone tissue and plays a role in maintaining bone. The best choices include plant proteins, such as beans and nuts, as well as fish, skinless poultry and lean cuts of meat. Plant proteins are rich in vitamins, minerals and estrogen-like plant compounds that help preserve bone. Low-fat dairy products, including milk and plain yogurt, are another good source of protein and also provide calcium, which benefits bone health. Protein should account for 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories.
You need some fat in your diet for your body to function properly. The best choices are monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil, nuts and seeds. Cold water fish also provide essential omega-3 fatty acids — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Even these fats, however, should be eaten in limited amounts. Avoid saturated fats, which have been shown to be detrimental to bone health in adults.
March 10, 2017
- Clarke BL, ed. Mayo Clinic Guide to Preventing and Treating Osteoporosis. 2nd ed. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Ferri FF. Osteoporosis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 6, 2016.
- Goldman L, et al., eds. Osteoporosis. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 6, 2016.
- Natural Medicines. Osteoporosis. https://naturalmedicines.theraputicresearch.com. Accessed June 6, 2016.
- Handout on health: Osteoporosis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/osteoporosis_hoh.asp. Accessed Feb. 24, 2017.
- Lewiecki EM. Prevention of osteoporosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 6, 2016.
- Rosen HN, et al. Overview of the management of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jun. 13, 2016.
- Nutrition. National Osteoporosis Foundation. https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/nutrition/. Accessed Sept. 15, 2016.
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Accessed Feb. 24, 2017.
- Sahni S, et al. Association of total protein intake with bone mineral density and bone loss in men and women from the Framingham Offspring Study. Public Health Nutrition. 2013;17:2570.
- Mangano KM, et al. Bone mineral density and protein-derived clusters from the Framingham Offspring Study. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2015;115:1605.
- Beasley JM, et al. Biomarker-calibrated protein intake and bone health in the Women's Health Initiative clinical trials and observational study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014;99:934.
- Rizzoli R. Dairy products, yogurts, and bone health. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014;99(suppl):1256S.