Diet for Healthy Bones

Much of what you hear about diet and osteoporosis is out of date.

Monica Reinagel, M.S.,L.D./N
5-minute read
Episode #25

Diet for Strong Bones 

A nutrient-rich diet beats a handful of vitamin pills every time. But, because most people struggle to get enough calcium and vitamin D, it might be good idea to take a supplement containing calcium and vitamin D. But this does not get you off the hook. You still have to eat your vegetables. (Are you getting tired of me saying that?) 

To sum up, here are my quick and dirty tips for keeping your bones strong and healthy.

  1. Be sure your diet contains the recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D. For most people that’s around 1000 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D. Try to get at least half of that from foods as opposed to supplements. Dairy products are naturally high in calcium and usually have vitamin D added to them. A lot of soy products are fortified with both calcium and D. If you like sardines or caviar, you’re in luck: They are among the few foods that are naturally high in both calcium and D.

  2. Eat tons of vegetables. Most vegetables are rich in bone-building nutrients like calcium and magnesium. Leafy greens and vegetables from the cabbage family are also particularly high in vitamin K. Eat several servings of veggies every day and aim for a lot of variety throughout the week.

  3. Eat enough protein, but don’t go overboard. For strong bones, you want to eat at least one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight, or around fifty to sixty grams of protein per day. If you eat a lot more protein than that, you need to be extra sure you are getting enough calcium. It’s also a good idea to increase your intake of vegetables proportional to your protein intake. This helps to balance the effect of all that protein on your body’s pH.

Obviously, nutrition and bone health is a complicated subject and there’s a lot that won’t fit into a five minute show. But I’ve included links in the show notes to some excellent articles that clear up a lot of misconceptions and out-of-date ideas about nutrition and osteoporosis. So, if you’d like to read further, you’ll find those links below. And be sure to check out Girlfriend MD's episode about osteoporosis.


This is Monica Reinagel, the Nutrition Diva, with your quick and dirty tips for eating well and feeling fabulous.  

These tips are provided for your information and entertainment and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, please work with your health professional to determine what’s right for you.

If you have a nutrition question for me, send an email to nutrition@quickanddirtytips.com.  I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Have a great day and eat something good for me!


Protein and Bone Health: A Paradox Unraveled

Role of Dietary Sodium in Osteoporosis

Is caffeine a risk factor for bone loss?

Vitamin K in the Treatment and Prevention of Osteoporosis

Smoking and Osteoporosis

Older Woman image courtesy of Shutterstock