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DEAR MAYO’S CLINIC: I was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis, and my medical team suggested I eat a healthy bone diet to prevent new problems and maintain strong bones as I get older. What is osteoporosis and how can I maintain a healthy diet for bones?

ANSWER: Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become thinner and lose their strength. If the bones weaken, sudden fractures can occur even with minimal trauma. A calcium-Rich diet is important to maintain optimal bone health and osteoporosis prevention. So is vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium to store it in the bones. The amount of calcium and vitamin D needed to optimize bone health increases with age.

Bones need nutrients so they can grow and maintain that growth. A healthy bone diet can be a good strategy to prevent permanent bone loss. This diet should be part of an overall healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and optimal levels of calcium and vitamin D.

Here are five steps to eat right for strong bones:

1. Eat more vegetablesfruits and whole grains.

Studies show that eating more vegetables and fruits will improve bone health. These foods are usually lower in calories and fat, as well as high in fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. They also contain phytochemicals, which are substances that can protect against various diseases, including osteoporosis.

Try to eat four or more servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits each day. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of magnesium and potassium, as well as vitamins C, K and A. They all play a role in maintaining bone health.

Also, eat four servings of grains a day. Choose whole grains if possible because whole grains contains more nutrients, especially magnesium and fiber than refined grains.

2. Choose healthy sources of protein and fat.

Protein is important for bone health because it is a major component of bone tissue and plays a role in maintaining bones. The best options include vegetable proteinsfor example, beans and nuts, as well as fish, skinless poultry and lean pieces of meat.

Plant proteins are rich in vitamins, minerals and estrogen-like plant compounds that help preserve bones. Low-fat dairy products, including milk and plain yogurt, are another good source of protein. These foods provide calcium, which promotes bone health. Protein should be between 25% and 35% of total daily calories.

A certain amount of fat is required for the normal functioning of the body in your diet. The best options are monounsaturated fats, such as in olive oil, nuts and seeds. Cold water fish also provide essential omega-3 fatty acids. Remember to avoid saturated fats, which have been shown to damage bone health in adults.

3. Get plenty of calcium.

Calcium is crucial for bone health. This mineral is the main building block of bone and it helps prevent bone loss and osteoporotic fractures in the elderly. Although the recommended daily intake for adults typically ranges from 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams, a typical diet provides much less.

If you are not getting enough calcium, try increasing your intake of foods high in minerals.

Traditional dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese. are the richest power sources. For example, one serving of skimmed, skimmed, or whole milk of 8 ounces contains about 300 milligrams of calcium.

Calcium is also found in:

• Vegetable milk, including almond, cashew and oatmeal.

• Food sources rich in calcium, including cabbage and broccoli.

• Calcium-fortified foods such as juices, cereals and tofu products.

It can be difficult to consume your daily calcium needs just by dieting. Calcium supplementation may be recommended. But don’t take calcium on your own. Vitamin D is needed for proper calcium absorption, and magnesium helps direct calcium to the bones without letting it get into soft tissues. Look for a calcium supplement that includes both ingredients.

4. Limit sugar, salt and phosphate additives.

Foods that contain sugar added during processing tend to provide a lot of calories, supplements and preservatives, but bring little health benefits. Limit your intake of processed foods and beverages, for example soft drinks.

Also try to reduce the amount of salt in your diet. Not only salt can cause high blood pressurebut also it can increase the amount of calcium you excrete from your body through urination. Aim for a limit of 2,300 milligrams of salt per day, which is equivalent to about 1 teaspoon.

Phosphorus is used as an additive in many processed foods. Too much phosphorus in your diet can affect how much calcium is absorbed through the small intestine.

Check labels on processed foods, but if possible try to choose fresh foods.

5. Limit alcohol and caffeine.

Consume more than one or two alcoholic beverages a day accelerates bone loss and reduces your body’s ability to absorb calcium. If you decide to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, this means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men over 65 and up to two drinks a day for men 65 and under. And drinking alcohol while eating will also slow down calcium absorption.

Caffeine may slightly increase calcium loss during urination. But much of its potentially harmful effects come from replacing milk and other healthy drinks with caffeinated beverages. Moderate caffeine intake – about two to three cups of coffee a day – will not be harmful as long as you diet contains enough calcium.

With the right lifestyle changes you should be able to maintain strong and healthy bones with age.

Video: What women should know about the risk of osteoporosis

Mayo Clinic News Network 2022. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Citation: Osteoporosis and a healthy diet for bones (May 23, 2022) received May 23, 2022 from

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