We’ve all heard the ads that “milk does a body good,” but that’s just about all the statement is: advertising–research doesn’t support these claims. In fact, clinical evidence strongly associates consumption of dairy products in causing, rather than preventing, osteoporosis[1] and bone fractures.[2]

But while milk may not be the answer, there are several foods that have been shown to preserve bone health. Most of these contain a combination of significant bone-building nutrients. No one nutrient by itself is likely to prevent this terrible disease. Rather, it takes a combination of nutrients that work synergistically: calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K, boron, vitamin C, folate, etc.

Top 5 Foods for Bone Health

To prevent osteoporosis, you need to consume a variety of foods that have the highest combination of bone-building nutrients.

#1– Broccoli

Broccoli is high in magnesium, calcium, vitamin K, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. When it comes to bone health, broccoli truly has it all.

#2 – Fish

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Fish such as sardines, salmon, cod and tuna are high in calcium and the healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

#3 – Green leafy vegetables

Green, leafy vegetables include kale, collards, turnip greens, spinach, lettuce, parsley, etc. These vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that can help protect bone health. All greens contain high amounts of manganese, iron and vitamin K1. This type of vitamin K prevents over-activity of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone to release minerals into the blood. In addition to manganese, iron and vitamin K, greens include other nutrients: Lettuce contains calcium and boron; cabbage is full of folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin C; spinach has folate, vitamin B6, magnesium and calcium; and parsley is also high in folate.  Research indicates eating an assortment of these green, leafy vegetables is most beneficial.

#4 – Prunes

According to Florida State University researchers, postmenopausal women who regularly eat prunes have a considerably lower risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures compared to other women of the same age. The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, noted prunes are phenomenal for bone health.[3] Additionally, prunes are an excellent source of boron.

#5 – Nuts

Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts and cashews are rich in the amino acid lysine. Lysine helps accelerate the body’s ability to absorb calcium.  Furthermore, certain nut varieties contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as folate, boron, and magnesium.

If these aren’t your favorite foods or you want more variety, you can find 5 more top bone-building foods here.


[1] 12-year Harvard study of 78,000 women American Journal of Public Health 1997;87.

[2] American Journal of Epidemiology, 1994;139.

[3] Shirin Hooshmanda, Sheau C. Chaia, Raz L. Saadata, Mark E. Paytona, Kenneth Brummel-Smitha and Bahram H. Arjmandi. Comparative effects of dried plum and dried apple on bone in postmenopausal women. British Journal of Nutrition DOI: 10.1017/S000711451100119X.

About the Author:

Jami Cooley is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant as well as a Registered Nurse. She is a staff member and regular contributor for the Natural Health Advisory Institute.

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