Evidence Based Ways to Increase Bone Density and Build Healthy Bones (Including Osteoporosis Diet)

How to Increase Bone Density and Build Healthy Bones (Including Osteoporosis Diet)

Having healthy bones and increasing bone density are important to prevent osteoporosis. Building strong bones is possible by enjoying an osteoporosis diet which is rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K2. You can also increase bone density by including bone strengthening foods such as plenty of vegetables, protein, and oily fish in your diet.

To help prevent osteoporosis, it is also important to make your bones stronger through exercise. Some bone strengthening exercises include resistance training, brisk walking, and flexibility exercises.

You may also find it helpful to take osteoporosis supplements to help increase bone density when you are over 60.

In this article, you will learn what you can do to increase bone density to make your bones stronger. As well as finding out the best foods that are good for bones, you will learn about exercises to increase bone density.

What is Bone Density and Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis literally means porous bone. This is a disease which results from bones losing their density and becoming more fragile.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that loss of bone mass occurs as the inside of the bone becomes more porous. Poor bone health can put a person at risk of fracturing their hip, spine, wrist, or other bones. (1)

Loss of bone mass and reduced bone density is common in women as they reach the menopause. Doctors say that women have smaller bones, and a drop in estrogen affects bone density. (2)

Osteopenia describes the first stage of bone density loss where bones become weaker. It is possible to strengthen bones through diet, exercise, and embracing healthy lifestyle. (2)

What is the osteoporosis diet?

The osteoporosis diet involves eating foods that are known to increase and boost bone density.

The Mayo Clinic says that some of the best bone building foods are ones that are rich in calcium. So, a diet for osteoporosis should include dairy products, broccoli, kale, sardines, and almonds. (3)

To help your body absorb calcium for bone strength, it is also important to get enough vitamin D from your diet. Consuming foods such as eggs, oily fish, and fortified milk are good for your bones. (3)

It would also be a mistake to think that all you need for your osteoporosis diet are calcium-rich foods. The Open Orthopaedics Journal reports that bone health depends on the right balance of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, and zinc. (4)

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs gradually and there may be no signs as it develops.

Doctors say that bone mass constantly gets broken down and replaced. Osteopenia and osteoporosis occur when bone formation (ossification) doesn’t occur as quickly as necessary. (5)

The book Informed Health Online says that some of the first symptoms of osteoporosis may be a fractured bone. The most common osteoporosis fractures occur in the hip, wrists, upper arms, and ribs. (6)

Sometimes increased back pain, a stooped posture, or becoming shorter can be indicators of osteoporosis.

In order to check for signs of osteoporosis, doctors will arrange for an x-ray to check bone density. (7)

How to Increase Bone Density Naturally

Let’s look in more detail at some natural remedies for osteoporosis and what you can do to help improve bone health.

Resistance Training to Boost Bone Density

One way to help make your bones stronger is to lift weights (resistance training).

A review of the benefits of resistance training on bone density found that it can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises can help increase bone density for people over 50. Regular physical exercise to increase bone density has the added benefit of increasing muscle mass and building strength. (8)

A 2017 study found that daily weight training can help to reverse osteoporosis and increase bone mass. (9)

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that the best osteoporosis exercises should help to strengthen muscles and bones. Resistance training to increase bone density can include using weights, resistance bands, or your own body weight. (10)

However, before starting a program of bone-strengthening exercises, you should have your fitness and health assessed by a doctor.

Maintain Healthy Weight

In order to prevent problems with brittle bones and low bone density, it is essential to have a healthy weight.

Research into factors affecting bone health has found that low body weight is linked to osteoporosis. Women with a low body mass index (BMI) were at greater risk from the complications of low bone density. (11)

However, losing excess weight shouldn’t be viewed as putting you at greater risk of osteoporosis. Studies have shown that resistance training along with a weight-loss diet doesn’t increase your risk of osteoporosis. (12)

Even though people who are overweight suffer less from osteoporosis, carrying too much body fat isn’t good for healthy bones. One study found that obesity can affect the bone marrow and have a negative impact on bone health. (13)

You can check if your BMI is within what doctors class as a healthy range. If you need to lose weight, then find out how walking can help you shed excess body fat and improve your general health.

Herbs and their Essential Oils to Prevent Bone Mass Loss

There are also some components in essential oils that are good to use if you want to prevent osteoporosis in the menopause.

Researchers have found that components found in some herbs that are rich in essential oils may actually help boost bone metabolism. One trial involving rats found that components in herbs and their essential oils such as sage, rosemary, and thyme help to inhibit bone resorption when ingested by the rats. This is a process where bone tissue breaks down and calcium leaks from the bones. (14)

This could mean that consuming these herbs may help inhibit bone resorption.

Find out more about essential oils that can help to reduce your symptoms of the menopause, or try these supplements and herbs for menopause.

Osteoporosis Diet to Build Healthy Bones

One of the best ways to treat osteoporosis is to enjoy a diet that includes foods for healthy bones.

Let’s look in more detail at what you should be eating on your diet for osteoporosis.

Calcium-Rich Foods to Strengthen Bones

Foods that contain a lot of calcium can help to make your bones stronger and prevent fractures.

Scientists say that 99% of the body’s calcium is found in bones and teeth. Poor intake of dietary calcium and a vitamin D deficiency can put a person at risk of osteoporosis and fragile bones. (15)

A report on the prevalence of osteoporosis in women over 50 found that nearly 70% have a calcium deficiency. (16)

In order to prevent osteoporosis in later life, doctors emphasize the importance of getting enough calcium in childhood. It is important for adolescents to get enough calcium in low-fat dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. This can greatly lower the risk of osteoporosis when aged 50 and over. (17)

When it comes to getting enough calcium for osteoporosis, most doctors advise consuming calcium-rich foods. Some studies show that calcium supplements alone don’t increase bone density or lower the risk of fracture. Therefore, if possible, increasing vegetable and fruit intake along with vitamin D can help more bones absorb more calcium. (18)

Calcium supplements have also been linked to kidney stones and gastrointestinal upset. Getting plenty of calcium from foods in your diet doesn’t cause any of these complications. (19)

If doctors recommend calcium supplements for osteoporosis, then you should also ensure you have enough vitamin D and vitamin K to help absorb calcium.

It should be noted that there is also some evidence to suggest that consuming too much milk (a calcium-rich drink) could actually cause calcium loss. One study over a 20-year period involving over 30,000 women found that increased milk consumption was actually linked to a high fracture rate due to bone mass loss. (20) You can read more about this research in my previous article.

According to the National Institutes of Health, adults require 1,000 mg to 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, canned sardines, salmon, broccoli, kale, and calcium-fortified products. (21)

If you want to know more about calcium-rich foods for bone health, you can find out what to eat if you can’t take dairy products.

Foods Rich in Vitamin D in the Osteoporosis Diet

Vitamin D is essential if you want to improve bone health and help reverse osteoporosis.

Scientific studies have shown that without vitamin D, your body has trouble absorbing calcium. A vitamin D deficiency can put people over the age of 60 at a greater risk of osteoporosis.

One randomized controlled study found that calcium supplements for osteoporosis along with vitamin D helped to prevent complications associated with brittle bones. (22)

Other studies have found that getting enough vitamin D for osteoporosis is just as important as calcium for bone health. (23)

Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, eggs, mushrooms, and fortified milk. Your body produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to direct sunlight. (24)

Apart from being a factor causing osteoporosis, learn more about what a vitamin D deficiency does to your body.

Vitamin K2 is Necessary for Strong Bones

Getting enough vitamin K2 in your diet is another way to increase your bone mass and prevent osteoporosis.

The Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism reports that vitamin K2 helps to improve bone health. Some studies have shown that taking osteoporosis supplements that include calcium and vitamin K2 helps to maintain bone density. (25)

Vitamin K2 can also help increase bone density after 60. Some studies have found that a combination of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K2 helps to make bones stronger in older adults. (26)

Good foods to eat to ensure you get calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K include green leafy vegetables and dairy products. (27)

One good source of vitamin K is eggs. Find out why eating an egg a day may be healthier for you than you think.

Eating Fruits and Vegetables Helps Prevent Osteoporosis

Fruits and vegetables are healthy foods that are good for promoting bone health and increasing bone density.

A study involving 100 postmenopausal women found that eating between 5 and 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily improved bone health. Researchers also noted that women over 50 benefit from better cardiovascular health and stronger bones when consuming more fresh vegetables and fruits. (28)

Another study found that an osteoporosis diet consisting of citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, and parsley helped conserve bone calcium and prevent bone mass loss. (29)

Foods Rich in Protein are Necessary for Bone Health

As well as consuming calcium-rich foods for healthy bones, you need to get enough protein to maintain bone mass.

Many studies show that protein for bone health is just as important as calcium and vitamin D. Research has shown that high protein intake can help prevent fractures in postmenopausal women. (30)

A 2017 systematic review on the role of protein in preventing osteoporosis found that it is a good nutrient for bone health. Higher protein intake is associated with increased bone density. (31)

However, for protein to help strengthen bones, you also need adequate calcium intake to promote healthy bone density. (32)

Protein-rich foods that are good if you have osteoporosis include eggs, seafood, poultry, and lean beef.

You can also find great sources of plant-based protein if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. Some good sources of protein include beans, legumes, spirulina, sweet potatoes, and avocados.

You can also increase your protein intake by taking whey protein.

Diet Rich in Copper, Magnesium, and Zinc Promotes Healthy Bone Density

If you want to incorporate bone-strengthening foods in your diet, then it’s important to get enough magnesium, zinc, and copper in your diet.


Studies have shown that magnesium deficiencies often lead to weak bones that fracture easily. Low magnesium level alters the structure of the bone and can also lead to inflammation. This results in poor bone health. (33)

Foods containing magnesium are brown rice, lentils, almonds, peanuts, and kidney beans.

Some studies show that supplementing your diet with 250 mg magnesium a day can help promote bone health.

Learn more about the complications of a magnesium deficiency and the best magnesium supplements for your health.


Scientists say that adequate levels of zinc maintain healthy bone metabolism and bone tissue. Zinc also helps the body metabolize vitamin D and, therefore, is also indirectly connected with calcium absorption. (34)

Foods rich in zinc to include on your osteoporosis diet include beef, shellfish, chicken, yogurt, almonds, and cashews. (35)

Find out about what else happens in your body if you have a zinc deficiency.


Research into the relationship between copper and bone health has found that this trace mineral helps increase bone density. Copper deficiencies are often seen in people with osteoporosis or brittle bones. Copper promotes bone health because it helps collagen and elastin form and prevents free radical damage in bones. (33)

Good sources of copper are seafood, nuts and grains, and most meats.

Oily Fish in the Osteoporosis Diet

To help increase bone density, a diet for strengthening bones should include oily fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel.

The reason that an osteoporosis diet should include fatty fish is due to the content of omega-3 fatty acids. For example, some studies have shown that consuming seafood and oily fish is associated with a lower risk of hip fractures. However, not all studies have shown conclusive results. (34)

Another reason why eating oily fish is good on the osteoporosis diet is that tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel are all a good source of vitamin D. (35)

If you can’t increase the amount of fish in your diet, you could help prevent osteoporosis by taking omega-3 supplements. Studies have shown that taking omega-3 along with foods high in calcium can have a beneficial effect on bone health. (36)

Learn more about the benefits of taking omega-3 supplements. This healthy fatty acid will help to keep your heart healthy and may help reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

Supplements for Osteoporosis

In some cases, taking other supplements that increase bone density can help to reverse osteoporosis.

Collagen Supplements to Build Healthy Bones

Collagen is a protein that is essential for bone health and good skin structure. Some collagen supplements can help to make your bones stronger.

A 2018 randomized controlled study on women over 50 found that collagen supplements increased bone density. Over a 12-month period, the bone density in postmenopausal women increased and scientists noticed less bone degradation. In some women, bone density increased by 7% when compared to the control group. (37)

Organic Plant Calcium Supplements for Increased Bone Density

Some osteoporosis supplements contain bone-strengthening nutrients from plant-based sources.

AlgaeCal (AC) is a plant-sourced form of calcium made by milling sea algae found on the South American coastline. In addition to calcium, this algae contains 13 other minerals known to play a role in bone health, including magnesium, boron, silica, manganese, copper, vanadium and strontium. (38)

The Nutrition Journal reported that the AlgaeCal supplement for osteoporosis had a positive impact on bone density. This supplement also contains vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium. Over a 6-month period of taking the supplement, researchers noted a significant increase in bone mass. (38)

You can purchase osteoporosis supplements in Amazon here.

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