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Looking Beyond Calcium to Prevent Osteoporosis

By healthwriter

Close to a third of postmenopausal women in Europe and the US have osteoporosis. If you have a family history of this bone-thinning disease or one of the other risk factors for its development, which include a small frame size, long-term use of steroids, an overactive thyroid gland and poor absorption of nutrients, it is especially important that you review your diet.

By including those nutrients known to promote stronger bones you can reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis. However, while a large emphasis is placed on including plenty of calcium rich foods in the diet, this is by no means the only way you can enhance the strength of your bones. Here we take a look at some of the other dietary components important for bone health.

Vitamin D

This vitamin helps to regulate calcium absorption in the intestines, but also has a direct role in the turnover of bone.

Although Vitamin D is sourced most effectively by exposing your skin to sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes each day, as we generally spend less time outdoors than we used to and are more likely to liberally apply sunscreen when we do go outside, including dietary sources is now more important than ever.

Although there are few foods rich in this vitamin, oily fish, liver, eggs and foods that may be fortified such as milk, margarine and cereal do provide a useful source. The under fives, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, anyone who is housebound or who covers their skin are recommended to take a vitamin D supplement though.

Vitamin C

Collagen forms a large part of the bone matrix and vitamin C is essential for its formation. Although citrus fruits are most well-known for their vitamin C content, a range of other fruit and vegetables are also rich in this vitamin. Other good sources include berries, kiwis, tomatoes, bell peppers, green peas, green leafy vegetables and potatoes.

Vitamin K

Although you might be less familiar with this vitamin, it is required for the formation of a protein that is important for bone building. Choose to eat green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and kale more often to up your intake of vitamin K.


This mineral is needed for the production of vitamin D and also to enable the body to use calcium in bone formation. Dairy produce, leafy greens, nuts, pulses and wholegrains offer the richest sources of magnesium.


While sodium, which is largely sourced from salt, is known to be detrimental to bone health, potassium helps to counteract its negative effects. If you are looking to increase your intake of potassium, the easiest way is to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables - yet another reason why this food group is important.

Bananas might be famous for their potassium content, but beans, greens, oranges, melon, peaches, pears, potatoes, squash and tomatoes also supply this mineral in good quantities.


One of the hormones that regulates bone turnover is controlled by zinc and this mineral is additionally required for the action of an enzyme responsible for the mineralisation of bone. 

While seafood, meat and dairy produce provide zinc in greatest quantities, anyone who relies mainly on plant based foods can still obtain sufficient through a good intake of oats, nuts, chickpeas and other pulses.


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