Share. Print. Save.
Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Dietary Guidelines for Bone Health

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) review, update and publish The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 (8th edition). These guidelines serve as a basis for nutritional messages that will be developed in the next several years for the general public. The primary goal of the Dietary Guidelines is to help improve the health of the nation.

There are two key messages to get from the recommendations: 1) maintain calorie balance to achieve and sustain a healthy weight; and, 2) choose foods that have good nutrient content over those that have empty calories, too much salt, too much fat, often due to added sugars and used of refined grains.

Important nutrition for bone health found in the new guidelines:

  • Although many kids consume too many calories, some young athletes may not be getting enough calories to use for their high level of physical activity with enough left over to keep their bodies healthy. An average kid expends about 2,000 calories a day, but a young athlete may expend 3,000+ calories per day. Look for the warning signs of Athletic Energy Deficit for female athletes in your family.
  • Choose foods that include calcium and vitamin D—the dynamic duo of bone health. If you choose to eat dairy products as your primary source of calcium, select fat-free or low-fat options available for milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages. The good news is that fat-free and low-fat milk products actually contain more calcium than higher fat versions. Vitamin D is added to many dairy and non-dairy products—check the labels. Few food are naturally rich in vitamin D, but fatty fish like salmon and sardines have quite a lot.
  • Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 1 teaspoon (2,300 mg) per day! Sodium chloride or table salt is added to most prepared foods—and about half the US population is overdoing it with salt. If you are 51 or older, African American, have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, you must reduce your sodium intake even further to 1,500 mg or less.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation-up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Not only can excess alcohol intake adversely effect bone strength, it also increases the risk of falls and fractures.
  • Increase vegetable and fruit intake, especially dark-green, red and orange vegetables, and beans or peas. Fruits and vegetables contain important bone health nutrients like:

1) Vitamin A is found in cantaloupe, carrots, kale, mangoes, sweet potatoes, and spinach. Vitamin A influences bone cell metabolism.

2) Vitamin C is found in broccoli, bell pepper, cauliflower, kale, lemons, oranges, papaya, and strawberries. Vitamin C is essential to the formation of collagen, the foundation that bone is built on.

3) Vitamin K, found in cooked broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, parsley (raw), spinach, and Swiss chard. Studies suggest that vitamin K can strengthen bones and reduce fracture risk.

4) Magnesium, found in green vegetables and squash, is essential to the proper functioning of nerves and muscles and all living cells.

5) Iron, found in dark green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach is a co-factor for the enzymes involved in collagen synthesis.

6) Potassium, found in avocados, bamboo shoots, beans, orange juice, plays a vital role in maintaining bone health by working to neutralize the acids produced during the body’s metabolic processes.

Reviewed: 4/10/19

Subscribe & Follow
Stay up to date on events & the latest in bone health

Calculate Your Risk

The American Bone Health Fracture Risk Calculator™ estimates fracture risk for women and men over age 45.

Related Articles

What to know about bone health
and fracture prevention during COVID-19

  • Remove fall dangers in your home.
  • Stay physically active, and at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Eat for proper nutrition, and take a supplement if needed to get enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Stick with your osteoporosis medicines and ask your doctor for extra if you’re unable to go to the pharmacy.
  • If you are due for Reclast, there is little concern about delaying for a few weeks or months.
  • If you take Prolia or Evenity injections, don’t miss your appointment.  Some facilities offer “drive-through” injections. Check with your doctor.
  • Bone density testing can be postponed, if necessary.
  • Speak with your doctor about the possibility of telephone and video visits.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a page with steps you can take to reduce your risk of catching the virus if you have a chronic illness.

Be well. We are here for you if you have any questions.