Northside Hospital - What vitamins and minerals help build strong bones?

What vitamins and minerals help build strong bones?

Q&A with Elyse Krawtz RDN, LD, Outpatient Dietitian at Northside Hospital

Bone is made with collagen that is hardened—or “mineralized”—with calcium phosphate. This combination makes bones durable to withstand stress.

The following vitamins and minerals help to keep your bones strong.

NOTE: Getting the following nutrients from food is better supported by research than getting them from supplements.

Calcium is important for strong bones. If we don’t have an adequate supply, our bones won’t be able to build, rebuild and recover.

Foods high in calcium include dairy, calcium-fortified plant dairy; sardines or canned salmon; calcium-set tofu; green vegetables like collards, turnip greens, kale, Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, mustard greens, broccoli, bok choy, and okra; seeds (poppy, sesame, chia), and almonds provide calcium.

Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium. It is difficult to get vitamin D from diet alone because vitamin D is a hormone that our skin makes with sun exposure--but be mindful of skincare.

Foods with Vitamin D: fatty fish (swordfish, salmon, sardines mackerel); fortified foods (dairy, cereal); and egg yolks are food sources of vitamin D.

We need to have enough fat in our diet to absorb vitamin D from food.

Phosphorus is used to make up about ½ of bone mass.

Phosphorus is in meat, fish, poultry, oats, lentils, legumes, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa.

Protein is needed to make collagen. Protein is found in fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, meat and dairy.

Vitamin C is necessary to make collagen. Good sources of vitamin C are citrus, peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and Brussel sprouts.

Magnesium enhances bone health and helps regulates vitamin D and other bone-related hormones such as parathyroid hormone. Magnesium is found in nuts, seeds (poppy, sesame, chia); nuts; legumes; whole grains; avocado; spinach, broccoli, artichokes, sweet potatoes

Zinc helps the body create the bone protein matrix. Zinc is found in shellfish, meats, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Vitamin K is important for proteins that help build bone.

  • Vitamin K1 is found in dark leafy greens.
  • Vitamin K2 is found in natto, a Japanese fermented soy product; some fermented cheeses and is made by our own healthy gut bacteria.
    • Potassium — Adequate potassium intake is associated with higher bone mineral density. Potassium is found in fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, dairy, and certain fish.


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