What you need to know
Your diet has a tremendous impact on your bone health. Learning about an osteoporosis diet and understanding which foods are good sources of vitamin D, calcium and other nutrients that are essential to the health of your bones and your overall well-being will help make eating healthy easier.
If you most generally eat a diet that is well-balanced and you get plenty of vegetables and fruits, dairy products and fish, you should get enough of the recommended requirements for an osteoporosis diet from what you eat. If your diet alone is not enough to meet your needs, you may need to take a multivitamin or supplements.
Foods That Are Good For The Bones
Milk, cheese, and yogurt: These are especially important to include in an osteoporosis diet
Calcium. Some dairy products are fortified with Vitamin D.
Fish and Seafood: These can make an important contribution to an osteoporosis diet
Canned salmon with bones; canned sardines
Fatty fish: mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines
Vegetables and Fruits: An osteoporosis diet should include these fruits and vegetables
Broccoli, Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens, kale, Chinese cabbage, okra
Spinach, raisins, beet greens, collard greens, okra, sweet potatoes, tomato products, potatoes, plantains, artichokes
Tomato products, prunes, raisins, plantains, potatoes, bananas, spinach, orange juice, sweet potatoes, oranges, papaya
Red peppers, pineapple, green peppers, papaya, oranges, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, strawberries, broccoli
Leafy, dark green vegetables such as kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts make up an important part of an osteoporosis diet.
Fortified Foods can be an important part of an osteoporosis diet
Vitamin D and calcium are often added to breakfast foods, juices, rice milk, soy milk, bread, snacks, and cereals.
Vitamin D, Calcium
Osteoporosis Diet: Food That's Good for Bone Health
Legumes (beans): Legumes contain calcium in addition to magnesium and fiber. They also contain "phytates." Phytates are substances that inhibit the absorption of the calcium from the beans. In order to lower the phytates level so your body can use the available calcium, cover the beans with water and allow them to soak for several hours or overnight. Then drain the beans and cook them in fresh water to include in your osteoporosis diet.
Meat and other high-protein foods: Getting enough, but not too much, protein is very important for overall health. Diets that are lacking in protein are harmful to the bones, but diets that are exceedingly high in protein may also cause harm. Too much protein causes the loss of calcium in the body. Dairy products are high in protein, but they also contain calcium, so include these in your osteoporosis diet.
Salt: A high intake of sodium (salt) can lead to a loss of calcium which may result in bone loss. To reduce your sodium intake, limit the amount of salt you add to foods at the table and try to cut back on a number of processed foods you consume in your osteoporosis diet. Learn to read nutrition labels. Look at the sodium content and if it is listed at 20% or more of the daily value, the food is high in salt. You need no more than 2,400 mg of sodium per day in your osteoporosis diet.
Oxalates: Your body has a difficult time absorbing calcium from foods like spinach that contain high amounts of oxalic acid (oxalates). These foods are excellent sources of other nutrients, just don't count on them to contribute toward your calcium needs. Besides spinach, other foods with high oxalates are beet greens and rhubarb, so don't count on these toward your calcium intake in your osteoporosis diet.
Wheat bran: Like legumes, wheat bran has phytates which prevent the absorption of calcium, but wheat bran prevents the calcium in other foods that are eaten at the same time from being absorbed from your osteoporosis diet as well. For instance, if you pour milk on your 100% wheat bran cereal, not all the calcium in the milk will be absorbed by your body. If you eat 100% wheat bran for breakfast and take calcium supplements, you may want to take your supplements with a meal other than breakfast.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Alcohol: Heavy alcohol use can cause bone loss. Alcohol use should be limited to no more than two or three drinks daily in your osteoporosis diet.
Caffeine: Tea, coffee, and colas all contain caffeine which may interfere with the absorption of calcium, leading to bone loss. Consume these in moderation in your osteoporosis diet.
Soft drinks: Some research has suggested that drinking cola is associated with bone loss. Here is what the studies have shown:
- Carbonation does not harm bones. The phosphorous and the caffeine that many colas contain may contribute to changes in bone density when included in an osteoporosis diet. Phosphorous is sometimes listed on food labels as phosphoric acid or phosphate.
- Some researchers believe that Americans consume too much phosphorus. Other experts say that phosphorus is not problematic as long as enough calcium is also consumed as a part of the osteoporosis diet. The problem may be caused, not by the phosphorus, but by the lack of calcium because people substitute colas for dairy drinks in their osteoporosis diet.
Make sure you're getting enough calcium by limiting your intake of alcohol, caffeine, and soft drinks. Make up for what you're missing by getting enough extra calcium in your osteoporosis diet.