Top 5 Foods for Stronger Bones
As we age, our bones lose strength and density, and we become more prone to fractures and osteoporosis – literally ‘porous bones’. The risk of osteoporosis is greater for post-menopausal women, due to the loss of the bone protective effects of oestrogen.
Dairy products are often said to be the best foods for strong bones due to their high calcium content, but strong bones need more than just calcium. In fact, there’s a whole team of nutrients needed to build and maintain bone tissue, including magnesium, zinc, vitamin D, manganese, boron, and vitamin K.
Here are our top 5 non-dairy food sources of bone-building nutrients:
Sardines and other oily fish like salmon and mackerel are rich in vitamin D. Vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphorus absorption in the small intestine and helps promote calcium uptake by bone-building cells. Sardines are packed with tiny soft bones which if eaten, also supply calcium itself.
Dark green vegetables like collard greens, broccoli, and kale are packed with calcium. The green vegetables need calcium as part of their skeletal structure to be able to grow upright just as we need it in our bones.
Nuts and seeds
Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds – nuts and seeds are brimming with the trace minerals our bodies need to build strong bones. These nutrient-dense foods provide zinc, magnesium, and manganese, making them an essential part of any bone-health nutrition plan.
As well as being a good plant source of calcium, broccoli gives us magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin K. Vitamin C plays an important role in maintaining the honeycomb matrix structure inside bone tissue that the minerals latch on to. Vitamin K is used to form osteocalcin, a calcium-binding protein needed for bone mineralization.
Tofu is one of the best vegan sources of calcium and protein, both of which are necessary for strong bones. Soy is also a rich source of isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen (plant compound with oestrogen-like actions) known to aid bone mineralization and help manage osteoporosis.