Dietary Tips To Support Healthier Bone Health

Bone health is often something which we don’t think about until later on in our lives at which point it may be too late. Really when we are thinking about bone health what we’re often referring to is our bone mineral density. Bone mineral density refers to the mineral content of bones. Maintaining high bone density is essential in reducing the risk of age related bone disorders such as osteoporosis which occurs when bones become weak, brittle and prone to fracture.

It's not only fracture risk which increases when our bone mineral density is low, it can also cause pain and impaired posture due to weak and brittle bones.

Supporting bone health is a long term game and that’s why we’re sharing our top tips for helping you to support yours:

  1. Ensure adequate amounts of protein

Protein helps to support bone structure and bone strength. Those over 65 years of age can benefit from increasing their protein consumption however, the general recommendations are 1g of protein per kg of bodyweight. If you’re a regular exerciser you may be looking at consuming between 1.2-1.5g of protein per kg bodyweight.

Complete proteins (those containing all nine essential amino acids) can be found in a whole host of animal sources such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy.

Protein can also be found in plant sources, yet complete plant proteins can be hard to find. Therefore, those on a vegan or plant based diet should ensure they’re consuming a variety of plant sources if imperative to getting a variety of amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Sources of plant protein include: beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, soy products and wholegrains. Protein can also be found in smaller amounts in some vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.

  1. Avoid low calorie/ restrictive diets

Eating a low calorie or restrictive diet can increase the risk of weakened bones as there are fewer opportunities to obtain adequate nutrients to support bone health. Therefore, ensuring a healthy, energy and nutrient dense diet is key to supporting long term bone health.

 

  1. Focus on your calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K intakes

Calcium along with phosphorus contribute to the production of the mineral Hydroxyapatite which provides the strength and density within the bones. Low levels of calcium can be difficult to identify as 99% of calcium is stored in the bones and when blood levels fall, calcium is released from the bone into the blood. As a result, low calcium status can often be masked and consequently may increase the risk of low bone mineral density.

Whilst calcium is particularly important, it cannot work without Vitamin D and Vitamin K. Vitamin D enables the absorption of the calcium into the blood and Vitamin K then acts as a carrier to help transport the calcium to the bones. As a result ensuring the consumption of calcium alongside Vitamin D and Vitamin K is pivotal for bone health.

 

Calcium can be found in dairy products, fortified dairy alternatives, nuts such as almonds, tofu and green leafy vegetables.

Generally it’s recommended to supplement with 10µg of Vitamin D during the winter months and ensure adequate, safe sun exposure throughout the summer months. Finally, Vitamin K can be found in green leafy vegetables and soy products such as Natto. 

  1. Eat your fruits and vegetables

Vitamin C plays an essential role in the production of collagen which is important in contributing to the strength of bones. Vitamin C is widely abundant in fruits and vegetables and consuming 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day is ample to obtain the recommended 40mg per day.

Vitamin C is water soluble and therefore if high doses are consumed as a supplement, the body will excrete the additional Vitamin C which is not required.

  1. Incorporate weight lifting into your training

This doesn’t mean you have to be lifting double your body weight in the gym, however, incorporating moderate weight lifting is a brilliant lifestyle factor which can contribute to supporting long term bone health as it encourages constant bone turnover. As a result, regular moderate weight lifting can contribute to the development of new bone which in turn allows the bones to get stronger.

There you have some top tips for supporting your bone health. We recommend having regular check ups and blood tests with you GP to ensure you’re staying on top of your nutrient status.

Weaver, C. M. (2017). Nutrition and bone health. Oral diseases23(4), 412-415.

Lanham-New, S. A. (2008). Importance of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K for osteoporosis prevention and treatment: symposium on ‘diet and bone health’. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society67(2), 163-176.