Eating the Bone Healthy Way


Colorful and fresh foods are important for prevention of chronic diseases like Osteoporosis. Flavonoids and phenolics in certain foods act as natural anti-inflammatory agents. They strengthen the immune system, reduce break-down of bone and cartilage and boost overall metabolism. These foods are probiotic (containing good bacteria) and prebiotic (food for good bacteria) in nature and are called ‘Anti-inflammatory Foods’. Interestingly, majority of anti-inflammatory foods are also good sources of calcium and vitamin D. These include broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, collard greens, chard, black beans, chick peas, kidney beans, soybeans and citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges, lime and lemon. Anti-inflammatory foods are helpful in maintaining a healthy gut or ‘microbiome’, which is necessary for bone metabolism. Getting the right amount of calcium and vitamin D each day is also an essential part of the formula for strong bones.

Daily Calcium and Vitamin D requirements:

(mg a day)*
                      Men 19 – 70
                    Women 19 – 50
                    Women 51– 70
                Men and Women 71+
(IU/mcg a day)*
               0-12 months
400 IU/10 mcg
               1- 70 years
600 IU/15 mcg
             71+ years                                                        800IU/20 mcg
(amounts.* mg = milligrams, IU = international units, mcg= micrograms) Your healthcare provider may recommend more vitamin D based on individual needs.

Source : National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, 2010

Calcium From Food First

The best way to get calcium is from the food you eat. Foods rich in calcium are often packed with other bone-healthy nutrients, too!
If you include a calcium rich food or beverage at each meal, you are likely to get all of the calcium you need. If not, speak to your health care provider to find out if a calcium supplement is right for you. Your body can only absorb up to 600 milligrams of calcium per meal. So, to make sure that your body absorbs it all, spread out your calcium consumption during the day.

Sources of Calcium:

Dairy Foods:

  • Milk (any type)
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese

Heart-smart dairy choices: Low fat (1% or less) dairy foods provide all of the calcium and vitamin D without the fat.

Non-dairy foods:

  • Canned salmon or sardines (eaten with bones)
  • Dark green leafy vegetables (collards, mustard and turnip greens, edamame, kale, bok choy)
  • Dried figs
  • Nuts (almonds, roasted soy nuts)
  • Chia seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Legumes- chick peas, peas, black beans, kidney beans, soybeans.

Fortified foods:

Always check nutrition labels to see how much calcium has been added.

  • Non-dairy milk alternatives (almond, coconut, flax, hemp, oat, rice, and soy beverages)
  • Juices
  • Tofu
  • Grains (cereals, waffles, nutrition bars)
  • Soy Cheese

Sources of Vitamin-D

Natural sources:

  • Fish: catfish, eel, flounder, halibut, mackerel, salmon, sardines, sea bass, swordfish, trout, tuna (light)
  • Mushrooms, treated with ultraviolet light
  • Eggs (with yolk)

Fortified foods:

Always check nutrition labels to see how much vitamin D has been added.

  • Milk (with or without lactose)
  • Non dairy milk alternatives
  • Juice
  • Yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Grains (cereals, nutrition bars)

It is important that you get the recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D. To determine if you need a calcium and/or vitamin D supplement, first consider how much calcium and/or vitamin D you get from the food you eat. If you take a multivitamin or calcium supplement, check to see if it also contains vitamin D.

Reading Nutrition Labels for Calcium & Vitamin D

Calcium is listed in milligrams (mg) and vitamin D in international units (IU) on a food label. Click on the links below to see a sample food label and a factsheet on Vitamin D & your bones

Click on this link to read a factsheet on Calcium and bone health


Choose portion sizes wisely. The right amount of calories from the foods that you eat should be balanced by your daily exercise.


  • A variety of deeply colored vegetables and fruit: ½ of your plate
  • Whole grains: ¼ of your plate
  • Lean protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, soy foods, nuts, nut butters and/or seeds): ¼ of your plate
  • A calcium rich food and/or a calcium rich beverage (e.g. dairy) at each meal

To read about calcium, vitamin D and covid -19  click on this link – Vit D, calcium & covid 19

The information contained here should NOT be considered medical advice. Speak to your health care provider about your individual nutrition needs for strong bones.