Bones are living tissues that play an important role in protecting your organs and providing support to the body. Most bone growth occurs in childhood and early adulthood. With age, however, the risk of bone loss and fragility increases. Fortunately, you can build and maintain stronger bones with proper nutrition and lifestyle habits.
10 ways to build stronger bones
- Eat more calcium: Calcium is the building block of bones. Most adults need about 1,000 mg of calcium a day. Women over age 50 and men over age 70 should be getting 1,200 mg of calcium a day. Calcium can be found in food sources such as:
- Fortified plant-based beverages
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Eat more vitamin D: Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium more effectively from the foods you eat. Experts recommend consuming about 600-800 international units (IUs) a day. Vitamin D can be found in:
- Egg yolks
- Fortified plant-based beverages
- Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines
- Get plenty of vitamins and minerals: Similar to vitamin D, other vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, potassium, and magnesium help your body absorb and utilize calcium more effectively. These crucial nutrients can be found in various food sources such as fruits, beans, peas, and lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fish.
- Get enough protein: Protein aids in building muscle mass, which helps keep your bones healthy and strong. Incorporate protein-rich food sources in your diet such as meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, vegetables, eggs, tofu, nuts, and seeds.
- Consume omega-3 fats: Healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to prevent age-related bone loss.
- Consider taking collagen: Although research is lacking on this topic, some studies suggest that taking collagen supplements may help protect your bones.
- Limit caffeine intake: Too much caffeine can reduce the amount of calcium absorbed by your body. Experts recommend consuming no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day —which equals about 3 cups of coffee (1 cup = 8 oz or 237 mL). Pregnant and breastfeeding women should limit their coffee intake to around 200 mg caffeine a day (around 1 large cup).
- Avoid very low-calorie diets: Excessively restricting calories can slow down your metabolism and lead to muscle loss, which can harm your bones.
- Do strength training exercises: Researchers recommend engaging in regular physical activity for at least 150 minutes a week. Weight-bearing exercises and resistance training can help you build stronger bones and prevent bone loss.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Eating a nutritious diet and maintaining a healthy weight can promote bone health. Being underweight can lead to bone loss and fractures, and being overweight can put strain on your joints and increase the risk of fractures. Maintain a stable weight in order to maintain strong bones.
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