by Joanna Foley, RD, CLT July 19, 2022 4 min read

Bone health matters more than you may think. The skeletal system, which is made up of bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments, provides structure to your entire body. Without it, you would not be able to move.

This is why the question of how to build strong bones is so important. Maintaining bone health is especially important for older adults since the aging process naturally decreases muscle and bone density.

As with anything in the body, a combination of a healthy diet, lifestyle, exercise, and supportive supplementation are all necessary to achieve healthy bones. Here's what you need to know about bone health and what you can do to best support it.

How Are Bones Made?

Bones are living and growing tissues. They are made up of mostly collagen and calcium phosphate and are "in a constant state of remodeling," Using the nutrients obtained from food, your bones are constantly rebuilding themselves to maintain skeletal structure and function.

During early life and adolescence, new bone is added to the skeleton faster than old bone is removed. This helps bones grow by becoming larger, heavier, and denser. After around age 20, bone loss naturally begins to occur, but the loss rate can be slowed or prevented by key diet and lifestyle habits. The loss increases in pace as aging continues.

Bones can become frail and brittle when bone loss occurs too quickly or if replacement occurs too slowly. People who did not reach their peak bone mass during the bone-building years can be more likely to develop bone issues later in life.

How To Build Strong Bones

There are several factors that contribute to bone health, as well as several key steps you can take to support and strengthen your bones.

The most important way to support bone health is by eating foods. Nutrients such as calcium, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin D are crucial for building bones. In fact, more than 99% of the body's calcium is contained in the bones and teeth. Other nutrients like potassium, zinc, and vitamin K also play a role in bone health. Eating a nutrient-dense diet is important, and you can find rich sources of these key nutrients in a wide range of whole foods:

  • Calcium: leafy green vegetables, almonds, edamame, tofu and plant milks.
  • Protein: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • Magnesium: nuts and seeds, avocados, beans, fish, leafy greens and whole grains.
  • Phosphorus: beans, lentils, whole grains, seafood, meat, and poultry.
  • Vitamin D: certain types of mushrooms, oily fish like wild salmon, sardines and trout, and egg yolks.
  • Potassium: bananas, potatoes, oranges, avocados, mangos, and tomatoes.
  • Zinc: seafood (like oysters, lobster and crab), chicken, beef, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas.
  • Vitamin K: leafy greens, green vegetables (like broccoli, asparagus and green beans), kiwi fruit and basil.

Nutritional Supplements that Support Lifelong Bone Health

Relying on diet alone isn't always enough to keep up with the natural decline in your body's ability to create and utilize the raw materials needed for bone health. This can especially be true for people with dietary restrictions or poor eating habits.

High-quality supplements that include ingredients like calcium malate, which helps the body repair bones, and magnesium malate, which helps the body absorb calcium. Supplementation of vitamin D, zinc and genistein can also support healthy bones by encouraging bone-building and increasing bone density.

Finally, vitamin K2 helps keep calcium in the bones and out of the bloodstream. It also activates a protein that enhances calcium absorption and encourages binding to bones, which can help increase bone density.

Exercise and Lifestyle Choices

Bone responds to exercise by becoming stronger. In particular, weight-bearing or resistance exercises, such as hiking, racquet sports, and lifting weights, can help increase bone mass more than non-resistance exercises, such as swimming. Exercise can also increase muscle strength, coordination, and balance and lead to better overall health by impacting your mind, body, and mood.

Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are detrimental to bone health. Not smoking and if you consume alcohol - doing so in moderation is important for bone health. Building strong bones is essential when it comes to our overall health. A mixture of a healthy, nutritious diet, supportive supplementation, healthy lifestyle habits, and regular movement and exercise are the best things to prioritize to make sure your bones stay healthy throughout your life and as you age.

Identifying whether you have nutrient deficiencies that might negatively impact bone health and overall longevity can help guide the diet and supplementation choices that best support you. You can use a simple at-home lab test to assess your vitamin and mineral levels and comprehensively understand any imbalance. Working with a certified health coach, you can gain deeper insight into what your body needs before implementing changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Vitamin D plays a key role in supporting strong bones, robust immunity and much more!Knowing your vitamin D level can give you valuable insight into whether you are at an optimal level or require additional support - all from the comfort and convenience of a simple at-home lab test.



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