Vitamins For Bone Health Adults

Maintaining strong and healthy bones is key in leading a happy healthy life, especially during adulthood. As we grow older, our bones gradually become more fragile and begin affecting simple daily tasks. 

Luckily, there are certain lifestyle choices, including the addition of vitamins and supplements to our diet, that can help us maintain good bone strength and reduce the risk of getting fractures or injuries as a result of bone fragility. Some of the most commonly studied vitamins and nutrients associated with having a positive impact on bone health include vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B, vitamin C, and vitamin K. 

Read on to find out more about these vitamins and how to incorporate them in your diet.

Importance of bone health in adults

Bones are very important parts of our bodies and have many crucial roles including protecting internal organs and enabling us to move and carry heavy weights.1 In addition, bones also act as calcium reservoirs, storing 99% of our total calcium. Calcium plays a very important role in providing skeletal strength, regulating homeostasis, and aiding in muscle contraction.2 As we grow older, calcium levels in the bones begin to deplete, and our bones become more fragile and hence are unable to perform as well in their everyday activities.1 

It is estimated that approximately 200 million people worldwide may have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a medical condition where bones are more fragile, increasing the likelihood of breakages and fractures. It is often seen in older people, reinforcing the correlation between age and weaker bone health.3 Research demonstrates that calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin K, and magnesium contribute to the prevention of osteoporosis by strengthening our bones.4  These vitamins and minerals need to be obtained from supplements or food sources as our bodies cannot produce them.5  Lucky for us, there are a wide range of sources that provide these vitamins that can help us strengthen our bones and improve our overall health. 

Vitamin D

Importance of vitamin D for bone health

Vitamin D, also referred to as the sunshine vitamin, is produced by our skin after we are exposed to the sun and is one of the most important vitamins for maintaining healthy bones. One of its main roles regarding bone health is its involvement in increasing the absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, which are used to strengthen our bones.5

Sources of vitamin D 

Vitamin D can be obtained through a variety of ways with the main ones including sunlight, food, and vitamin D supplements:


Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, emitted from the sun, is one of the most reliable sources of vitamin D. UVB is used by the skin to convert a component known as 7-dehydrocholesterol to pre-vitamin D and then vitamin D. However, certain things can affect the amount of vitamin D absorbed by the skin including melanin.5 

Food sources:

  • Oily fish including salmon, mackerel, and sardines
  • Milk
  • Orange juice
  • Bread and cereals5

Vitamin D supplements:

Due to the low variety of natural vitamin D food sources, vitamin D supplements are great alternatives. Vitamin D supplements can be prescription or over-the-counter and come in a variety of different strengths.5

Recommended daily intake for adults

Depending on the age, gender, and other medical conditions, the recommended daily intake for adults varies. It is recommended that an average person stays in the range of 30 to 60 ng/ml of vitamin D in the body. The recommended daily amounts for each person are the following in micrograms (mcg) and International Units (IU):

  • Adults (19-70 years) - 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Adults (71+ years) - 20 mcg (800 IU)
  • Pregnant/breastfeeding mothers - 15 mcg (600 IU)

However, before taking any vitamin D supplements, it is always best to consult a healthcare specialist.

Potential risks of vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D plays a significant role in different parts of our bodies, not just bone health. Therefore, vitamin D deficiency can lead to several problems. In adults specifically, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, a condition referring to softening of the bones. This is due to the inefficient absorption of calcium. Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency is also linked to muscle pain and weakness.5


Importance of calcium for bone health

Calcium has important roles in heart, bone, and muscle health. It is very tightly regulated and is absorbed by the bones with the help of vitamin D. Our skeleton contains approximately 99% of all calcium in our body, while the other 1% is found in our soft tissues, muscles, and blood. Consumption of calcium-rich foods and supplements has been shown to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, the weakening of bones, and reducing fractures and falls in adults who are over 65.6

Sources of calcium

  • Milk, yoghurt, and cheese
  • Almonds
  • Leafy greens including kale, spinach, and turnip
  • Canned sardines and salmon 

Recommended daily intake for adults

The recommended daily intake of calcium varies according to age, gender, and any other health conditions. In general, the recommended dietary allowance for calcium daily is:

  • Women (19-50 years) - 1000 mg 
  • Women (51+ years) - 1200 mg
  • Pregnant/lactating mothers - 1000 mg
  • Men (19-70 years) - 1000 mg
  • Men (71+ years) - 1200 mg 

Vitamin K

Importance of vitamin K for bone health

Vitamin K is involved in bone metabolism and ensures good bone health by activating certain important bone proteins. It has been shown that vitamin K can reduce the risk of fractures by 22%.7

Sources of vitamin K 

  • Green leafy vegetables, including spinach and broccoli 
  • Fermented foods7

Various meats and dairy sources also contain small amounts of vitamin K.

Recommended daily intake for adults

The recommended daily intake of vitamin K in adults is approximately 1 microgram a day for each kilogram of body weight. This means that a person weighing 55kg will need to consume 55 micrograms of vitamin K daily.


Importance of magnesium for bone health

Magnesium has many roles in the body, with 60% of it being contained in the bones. There are many advantages of consuming magnesium-rich foods, especially concerning bone health. It has been shown that magnesium deficiency can lead to bone problems, including a decrease of bone stiffness and osteoblasts (cells that help with the growth of bones) and an increase of osteoclasts (cells that degrade old damaged bone cells).8

Sources of magnesium 

  • Nuts, grains, and whole-meal bread
  • Coffee
  • Green leafy vegetables8

Recommended daily intake for adults

The recommended daily intake of magnesium varies depending on age and gender where 300 mg is recommended for adult men and 270 mg for adult women ranging between the ages of 19 to 64 years of age.

Vitamin C

Importance of vitamin C for bone health

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is involved in the production of collagen, which is essential for bone health and reducing the free radicals that can harm the bones. Vitamin C deficiency has been linked with scurvy and decreased bone formation due to the increase of osteoclasts, cells that degrade old or damaged bone cells.9 

Sources of vitamin C 

Vitamin C is found in a diverse array of foods including:

  • Citruses such as oranges, kiwis, and lemons
  • Bell peppers
  • Strawberries  
  • Tomatoes and white potatoes
  • Vegetables including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflowers 

Recommended daily intake for adults

The recommended daily dose of vitamin C ranges from 70 mg to 150 mg in adults. However, if a person is suffering from scurvy or other health conditions, it can be 300 mg to 1g of vitamin C daily.10 

Other essential nutrients for bone health

Other important nutrients that contribute to bone health include:

  • Zinc - Approximately 29% of our zinc is located in the bones and is crucial for normal bone growth. Zinc can be found in a variety of food sources including red meat, nuts, crabs, and dairy products11 
  • Phosphorus - Phosphorus works in conjunction with calcium to increase bone health. A typical adult Western diet normally includes a range of 1000 to 1600 mg of phosphorus daily, a portion of which is absorbed into the bones. Phosphate-rich foods include milk, meat, fish, eggs, and peanuts12
  • Vitamin A - Vitamin A plays an important role in the regulation of osteoblasts (cells used to help with the growth of bones) and osteoclasts (cells used to degrade old and damaged bone cells). Therefore, it is crucial to have a healthy amount of vitamin A in your system including foods such as dairy products and fish13
  • B Vitamins - B vitamins have been shown to improve bone health by stimulating osteoblasts and helping with bone formation. People who have a deficiency in B vitamins are more prone to osteoporosis and fractures9
  • Potassium - Potassium protects bones and increases their strength by promoting the retention of calcium.9 Some of the food sources that potassium can be found in include potatoes, avocados, green vegetables, and bananas 

Dietary tips for bone health

There are many nutrients that support and strengthen bone health, therefore it is crucial to maintain a balanced diet. A balanced diet is more likely to offer protection against diseases like osteoporosis and reduce fractures, instead of just relying solely on calcium and vitamin D supplements. A study showed that men who incorporated more fruits, vegetables, and cereals in their diet had the strongest bone mass, followed by men who had a diet high in meat and baked goods. The men with the lowest bone mass had diets filled with sweets and junk foods. Some of the foods recommended to incorporate into a healthy diet include vegetables, fruits, and dairy products.9

On the other hand, there are certain foods, drinks, and lifestyle habits which have a tendency to reduce bone health and bone density. These include:9

  • Carbonated soft drinks - Soft drinks, especially colas, can reduce calcium levels and lower bone mass resulting in weaker bones and osteoporosis 
  • Alcohol - There is a strong correlation between levels of alcohol and lower body mass where a higher alcohol intake, especially in post-menopausal women, leads to weaker bones 
  • Smoking - Smoking can impair calcium absorption, resulting in weaker bones. Furthermore, the nicotine in cigarettes also affects the cells required for bone formation 

Alongside, keeping a healthy balanced diet it is also important to maintain a healthy body weight including altering some lifestyle choices like increasing the amount of exercise, especially weight-bearing exercises.9 

Consulting a healthcare professional

Although the many nutrients and vitamins mentioned above are recommended for healthy bones, it is always important to consult a healthcare professional before making drastic changes to your lifestyle or taking any supplements. A healthcare professional will be able to look at your specific situation and advise the best course of action to improve overall bone health and maintain a healthy, balanced diet.9 


To summarise, bone health is incredibly important and key nutrients and vitamins such as vitamin D, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and magnesium play an important role. If bone health is not well maintained, it can lead to problems such as osteoporosis and fractures. Certain foods including cereals, fruits, and vegetables contain a variety of nutrients and vitamins that are essential in maintaining good strong bones. It is also important to keep a balanced diet and avoid certain things like carbonated drinks, alcohol, and nicotine products as they can easily influence bone health. Before making any lifestyle changes or deciding which vitamin supplements to take, it is always advisable to talk to a healthcare professional. 


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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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Maariya Rachid Daud

MSc Molecular biotechnology, University of Birmingham

Hi, my name is Maariya and I am currently a student at the Univeristy of Birmingham studying a masters in molecular biotechnology. I love reading and writing articles about a wide range of topics with the hope of allowing everyone to learn how to live a healthier happier life. I especially enjoy writing articles that are targeted to people with non-scientific backgrounds giving everyone the opportunity to learn more about biology. I really hope that you find all my articles interesting and insightful. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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