Posted on by Susan Levin, MS, RD, CSSD
All the nutrients you need to build strong bones can be found by eating plants, without the negative health risks from milk and dairy products.
Nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables, along with exercise, can help build and maintain strong bones. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to build bone density, or the measurement of the amount of minerals contained in a certain volume of bone. Exercise will also help decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
Here are five key nutrients to give your bones a boost and help them stay healthy and strong.
Calcium helps to build and protect bones. You want to aim for about 600 milligrams of calcium per day, which can easily be achieved on a plant-based diet. Eating plants helps absorb calcium at a higher rate than if you got it from cow’s milk. Leafy green vegetables, like cooked broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and collard greens are excellent sources and offer high absorption rates. Calcium can also be found in beans and fortified plant milks. There is more than 800 milligrams of calcium in a single serving of calcium-set tofu (about a half a cup). All types of beans and chickpeas are great, with a cup of chickpeas offering over 100 milligrams. These foods also contain magnesium, which is another important mineral for strong bones.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamin D comes from the sun, and about 15 minutes a day of direct sunlight on skin should give you enough vitamin D. However, having darker skin, living in the north, and even the winter season can all make it hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun alone. Fortified cereals, grains, bread, and soy or almond milk exist as options for providing vitamin D through diet, and vegan supplements are available and equally as beneficial.
Vitamin C is essential for making collagen, the protein that binds connective tissue in bones. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers and other fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin K is thought to stimulate bone formation. You can find vitamin K in the same foods that have an abundance of calcium, like dark leafy greens, beans and soy products.
Potassium decreases the loss of calcium and increases the rate of bone building. Oranges, bananas, potatoes, and many other fruits, vegetables, and beans are all rich sources of potassium.
Photo from here, with thanks.
Humanized Health - NEW!
Learn about personalized health from top experts! Check out our fascinating new shows every week, available as videos, podcasts and transcripts.:
Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
Margo's impressive knowledge base is the result of a unique blend of educational and professional experience.
Dr. Neal Barnard
Dr. Barnard leads programs advocating for preventive medicine, good nutrition, and higher ethical standards in research.
Dr. Joseph Pizzorno
Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, ND is a pioneer of integrative medicine and a leading authority on science-based natural medicine.
Debi is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition, a personal trainer, and whole health coach.
Teri is a is a Certified Coach Practitioner with extensive certifications and experience in holistic medicinal practices.
Dr. Rav Ivker
Dr. Rav Ivker is a holistic family physician, health educator, and best-selling author.
Susan writes about the connection between plant-based diets and a reduced risk of chronic diseases.
Dr. Rob Brown
Dr. Brown's blended perspective of healthcare includes a deeply rooted passion for wellness and spiritual exploration.