What to eat for good bone health

Written by: Jane Blackwell Published: May 16, 2023

How to get the best from your diet to help ward off osteoporosis.

Community cooking

Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them more fragile and likely to break. There are approximately half a million hospital visits for fractures from falls each year and women past the menopause are particularly at risk.

So what can we do to prevent this condition as we get older? Exercise is important in preventing osteoporosis, especially weight bearing exercises such as walking or running. However, all forms of exercise will help build muscle strength, which will also help stability and reduce the incidence of falls.

But diet is so important too. Whereas most people seem to be aware of the need for calcium to build and strengthen bones, few people realise other nutrients, such as magnesium and vitamin D, are needed to make sure the calcium is absorbed properly.

Although supplements can help, a recent review reported that just relying on them is not always totally effective, so it is a good idea to concentrate on getting these nutrients from our diets as well.

So how can we go about this? What foods should we eat to get the nutrients we need?

Calcium – Good sources of calcium are found in dairy products such as milk and cheese, but did you know one of the richest sources is in tinned fish with bones, such as sardines and salmon? The bones in tinned fish are not sharp, so you will barely notice them, but they are full of calcium so don’t discard them. Whitebait and scampi are excellent sources too.

Vitamin D is also found in the seafood mentioned above. Vitamin D is produced in the body from sunlight, so you may benefit from a top up from your diet in the winter.

Magnesium can be obtained from nuts, green leafy vegetables, peas and beans, porridge oats, and even dark chocolate!

So how about these quick, easy and delicious ideas for calcium/vitamin D/magnesium rich meals:

  • Porridge (made with milk) with peanut butter and banana
  • Avocado salad with chopped almonds and mixed leaves
  • Goats cheese salad with walnuts, apple, rocket leaves and olive oil
  • Grilled sardines and cheese on toast, with a tomato salad
  • Crispy whitebait served alongside pea soup
  • Scampi with peas, soya beans and broccoli
  • Smoked mackerel mixed with cream cheese into a pate, with toast
  • A few squares of dark chocolate with mixed nuts

Go on, try to get these into your diet next week!