Best Foods For Osteoporosis


Osteoporosis is a condition that occurs when bones become weak due to a decrease in density, mass or minerals. This can make bones more prone to fractures as they become brittle, negatively impacting quality of life. This disorder affects millions of people, specifically older individuals and people assigned female at birth who are going through menopause. Despite the fact that osteoporosis is a condition influenced by factors such as genetics, hormonal changes, lifestyle choices and certain medical conditions, nutrition plays a crucial role in its prevention and management. By making smarter choices, it is possible to slow down bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures. This article will delve into the foods and minerals for osteoporosis and highlight how dietary decisions can impact bone health.

Important nutrients for bone health


Calcium is a mineral that your body needs to build and maintain bones whilst carrying out crucial functions like muscle movement and nerve communication throughout the body. The majority of calcium is stored in your bones and teeth. Daily calcium intake varies depending on factors such as gender, age, and more. The general range of calcium needed should be between  1000 to 1300 mg for adults. Excellent sources of calcium include dairy products (milk, yoghurt, cheese), leafy greens (spinach, kale) and fortified foods (cereals, orange juice).

Sometimes, individuals may need to consider taking calcium supplements if they are unable to fulfil their daily calcium needs through adjustments alone. It is crucial to seek advice from a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation, as consuming certain amounts of calcium can potentially result in health problems, like kidney stones.1

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, is essential for increasing the absorption and the retention of calcium and other minerals like magnesium and phosphate, in intestines to enable bone mineralisation and to prevent involuntary contraction of muscles resulting in cramps and spasms. 

Vitamin D deficiency is common, especially in individuals with limited sun exposure. This is because your body can form vitamin D as direct sunlight converts a chemical in your skin into an active form of the vitamin. The best sources of vitamin D can be found in fatty fish like salmon and sardines and designer food, which is food enriched with nutrient content like cereals and tofu.

Some individuals may have limited sun exposure due to religious reasons to cover up or those who live in the northern latitudes. In these circumstances, vitamin D supplementation may be recommended under the guidance of healthcare professionals.2


As mentioned before, magnesium is involved in bone mineralisation, helping maintain bone density and being essential for healthy muscles, nerves, and blood sugar levels. The best food sources of magnesium are nuts, seeds, whole grains and green vegetables. While magnesium is essential for bone health, it is important to maintain a balance between calcium and magnesium intake, as an excessive intake of one mineral can affect the absorption of the other.3

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a group of vitamins that helps make various proteins needed for blood clotting and bone building. Green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, and lettuce are high in vitamin K. 

Vitamin K works alongside calcium and vitamin D to enhance bone health. It helps to regulate calcium deposition in bone tissue, preventing calcium buildup in soft tissues.4


Proteins are up-building blocks called amino acids, one of the key nutrients for bone tissue. They help maintain bone mass and have been shown to increase intestinal calcium absorption and decrease bone resorption. It is also a big component of muscles, which is crucial for mobility and flexibility. Maintaining an appropriate amount of protein intake, especially for individuals who are at risk of bone and muscle loss. Lean sources of protein such as poultry and fish and plant proteins like beans, nuts and legumes are recommended.5

Best foods for osteoporosis

Dairy products

Milk: High in calcium

Yoghourt: High in calcium and protein

Cheese: High in calcium but should be consumed moderately due to its high-fat content.

Individuals who suffer from lactose intolerance and dairy allergies can consume alternatives like milk made from plants such as soybean, coconut or almonds which also contain a sufficient amount of calcium but be sure to check the label as they may vary. 

Leafy greens

Spinach: Packed with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K.

Kale: A versatile leafy green rich in calcium and vitamin K.

Collard greens: Excellent sources of calcium and vitamin K.

These leafy greens provide a vast amount of nutrients for bone health; they provide additional benefits as they are low in calories and high in fibre, making them a healthy choice for overall well-being. 6

Fatty fish

Salmon: High in vitamin D and provides omega-3 fatty acids for overall health.

Sardines: Rich in calcium and vitamin D.

Mackerel: Excellent source of vitamin D and high in calcium.

Nuts and seeds

Almonds: High in calcium and magnesium.

Chia seeds: Rich in calcium, magnesium, and protein.

Sunflower seeds: A nutritious snack containing magnesium and vitamin E.

Nuts and seeds are convenient and versatile sources of bone-boosting nutrients. They can be incorporated into various dishes or consumed as snacks.7

Fortified food

Fortified cereals: Often fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Fortified orange juice: Contains added calcium and vitamin D.

Fortified Tofu:  High in calcium and vitamin D made from plants.

Fortified foods offer an option for individuals with dietary restrictions or limitations, making it easy to obtain nutrients compared to traditional food sources.

Lean protein sources

Chicken and turkey: Lean meats provide protein without excess fat.

Beans and Legumes: Plant-based food which provides protein.

A balanced intake of protein is essential as they lack saturated fats present in red meat; lean protein sources are a protein-rich alternative to red meat.8

 Dietary guidelines for osteoporosis

A diet that is key to maintaining bone health includes a variety of calcium-rich food, vitamin D and other sources.It also helps prevent nutrient imbalances that can significantly affect bone health. An unrestricted amount of caffeine, sodium and alcohol consumption can affect calcium absorption, leading to bone loss.9

Lifestyle factors for osteoporosis prevention

Various lifestyle factors can significantly reduce the risk of osteoporosis or even help eliminate it altogether. These factors include moderate alcohol consumption, avoiding smoking, maintaining healthy oestrogen levels, managing weight, and bone density testing, which are elaborated upon below:

Alcohol and smoking

A high alcohol and smoking intake is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures. It is suggested to stay within the government guidelines.

Low oestrogen levels

Oestrogen helps your body absorb ‘calcium’, having a relative energy deficiency, excessive expenditure of energy or having gone through menopause significantly decreases the amount of estrogen. Following a diet rich in oestrogen like soya could help prevent osteoporosis.


Being underweight (BMI under 19) can increase the risk of osteoporosis as the fat stores are being used to maintain normal oestrogen levels. On the other hand, being overweight has shown to affect bone density, individuals with obesity have a lower bone density and increased risk of fractures.

Weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging and resistance training help strengthen bones reducing the risk of fractures. Participating in regular physical activities and maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for overall health and well-being. 

Bone density testing

Consistent bone testing, usually measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans, can help monitor bone health and evaluate the efficiency of preventive measures and treatments. They help healthcare professionals to personalise recommendations and interventions.10


In conclusion, osteoporosis, a disorder which weakens bones, is a significant concern to many, especially for the elderly and menopausal women. The diets we have play a crucial role in preventing and managing this disorder. Essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K, and protein play key roles in maintaining and providing strong bones. These nutrients are found in food like dairy products, leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts and fortified foods. Balancing our diet is fundamental, we should be aware and restrict the amount of caffeine, sodium and alcohol we consume as an excessive amount can not only harm our bone health but our overall health and well-being. 

Adopting a lifestyle with moderate alcohol consumption, avoiding smoking, managing hormone imbalances, and participating in weight-bearing exercises to maintain a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.Regular bone density tests are valuable in checking and ensuring our bone condition. They allow us to make better-informed choices to strengthen our bones to have a better quality of life as we age.

This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Rania Abbas

Bachelor's degree, Biomedical Sciences, General, University of Westminster

Drawing upon a background in Biomedical Science and completion of a PGCE, I am a seasoned writer committed to captivating crafting content. With a passion for informing, inspiring, and entertaining readers, I bring a wealth of experience and expertise to every piece. Whether unravelling the complexities of technology, exploring the wonders of science, or delving into the realms of literature, I am dedicated to delivering articles of the highest quality.

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