Ways to Improve Bone Density


Strong Diet and Strengthening Supplements

It should come as no surprise that what you consume can help or hinder your bones. After all, you are what you eat!

A balanced diet is the foundation for good health, but a few specific choices can make a big difference for your bones. Swap out less nutritious food for “strengthening” food that contains these vitamins and minerals:

Calcium

When you think about bone health, calcium probably jumps to mind. It plays an important role in bone growth and development, and the more you take in, the more that’s available for your body to use. And happily, there are some easy and delicious ways to work more calcium into your diet.

Dairy products are obvious choices, but there’s a good deal of non-dairy sources of calcium, too. Kale, spinach, broccoli, white beans and almonds are good ingredients to stock up on.

Vitamin D

It’s true that calcium is at the root of bone building, muscle function, and a host of other important biological processes, but simply taking in more calcium won’t bring the results you need. The key is to help your body better absorb the calcium you take in, and for that you need vitamin D.

There aren’t many food sources of vitamin D — except for some fish and fortified juice or milk — but a daily supplement is a safe and effective way to top up your vitamin levels. Experts also recommend 10 to 15 minutes of direct sun exposure at least three days a week for a good supply of vitamin D.

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Vitamin K

This vitamin is crucial for protein building, and those proteins make bones stronger. It also appears that vitamin K reduces the amount of calcium excreted by the body, and since vitamin D helps the body absorb more calcium, the two vitamins make a powerful team.

Many of the best plant-based calcium sources also happen to be good sources of vitamin K: spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli and kale top the list.

While you’re topping up your diet with strengthening foods, ditch any bone “weakening” foods, too. Processed foods are not good for anyone, but when your bones are at risk, you’ll also want to cut down on caffeine and alcohol. A little bit is fine, but too much of either will interfere with how your body absorbs and uses calcium.

Medication to Protect and Improve Bone Structure

There’s no simple pill to cure poor bone density, but there are a few medications that can help to slow the progression and limit the damage. The bisphosphonate class of medication is the popular choice, since they have been proven to reduce the frequency of fractures. Teriparatide is a newer compound that can actually help to build bone mass, although it’s not right for everyone.

Drug therapy can be very helpful when it comes to slowing bone loss, although it generally can’t replace the bone you’ve already lost. For that, you’ll need to bring in diet and exercise, making permanent changes to your daily routine to encourage your natural bone-building ability.

Resources

TIME (10 Ways to Build Healthy Bones and Keep Them Strong)

WebMD (Can You Reverse Osteoporosis?)

WebMD (Building Stronger Bones)

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