Vitamins for Bone Health: Learn Why Your Bones Need More Than Calcium‡

Learn which vitamins support bone health and why calcium alone isn’t enough for strong bones

Bone density changes are part of aging. The good news is, there are specific minerals, nutrients, and vitamins for bone health. The right combination of nutrients, weight-bearing exercises, and lifestyle factors may help you maintain bone mass as you age.1 ‡

In this blog we dig into bone health and the nutrients required to support strong bones. And yes, calcium is important for bone health, but it takes more than one nutrient to grow and maintain strong bones.2 ‡

In fact, growing and maintaining strong bones demands a constant and adequate source of minerals, nutrients, and vitamins for bones including:2 ‡

  • Calcium, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D, potassium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, vitamin K, and vitamin C.2

Keep reading to learn about the essential minerals, nutrients, and vitamins for bone health.

Before making changes to your diet, nutrition, and exercise routine, consult your healthcare practitioner. Always discuss any vitamin and mineral supplements you are taking or plan to take, since these may interact differently with medications and health conditions.

As always, feel free to contact us with your questions about our vitamins, minerals, supplements, and other products.

Calcium for Bone and Overall Health

Calcium is essential to life. This mineral plays a key role in building bones, keeping your bones healthy, your muscles contracting, and your heart beating.3 ‡

This mineral is the most abundant mineral in your body, with 99% of your calcium found in your bones and teeth. Because our bodies cannot make calcium, it’s essential you give your body an adequate supply.3

If your body cannot get enough calcium from your diet and supplements, it starts taking it from your bones. Over time, this can result in weak bones that break easily.3

As you age, bone breakdown increases while bone formation slows down, especially in postmenopausal women. These changes result in bone mass loss and integrity issues.1 While calcium gets a lot of attention for its benefits to bone health, it’s critical to understand how calcium works with other essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins for bone health support.4 5 ‡

And it’s especially important to acknowledge that too much calcium can have negative impacts on your bone health. More calcium is not necessarily better. If you take calcium supplements, discuss your dosage with your healthcare practitioner. Do not increase your daily amount of calcium without guidance from a healthcare professional.

What Minerals, Nutrients, and Vitamins Should I Take for Bone Health?

Building and maintaining strong bones is important regardless of your age. Lifelong bone health and strength demands a complex mix of minerals, nutrients, vitamins, and lifestyle habits.7

The following minerals, nutrients, and vitamins play key roles in bone health:2 ‡

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is well-studied for its positive impact on bone health. This essential fat-soluble vitamin helps your body absorb calcium. If you have an adequate intake of calcium, but are low in vitamin D, your body cannot process and absorb the calcium it needs.8 ‡

The primary source of vitamin D is through sun exposure and through vitamin D-fortified foods. However, it is difficult to absorb enough of this vitamin through diet and sun exposure. As a result, many people are insufficient in Vitamin D and need to supplement with up to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily to meet recommended levels.7

Magnesium

Magnesium works with other bone-building nutrients in the body. It is essential for supporting bone mineral density, an important measurement for bone health. Magnesium may help with bone health because it supports vitamin D activity, which helps enable calcium absorption9. At the same time, supplementation supports bone mineral density.10 11 ‡

Good sources of magnesium include:12

  • Green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.13
  • Foods containing dietary fiber such as legumes.13
  • Fortified foods including cereal.13
  • Dark chocolate, avocados, tofu, and bananas.13

Zinc

Zinc is a trace mineral that contributes to your bone health.13 About 30% of the zinc in your body is found in bone.14 ‡

In combination with calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium, zinc helps with bone mineralization.15 Zinc helps to maintain bone by supporting osteoblast function. It is also needed for optimal calcium absorption.16 ‡

Good sources of zinc include:17 18

  • Legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.19 20
  • Protein sources including eggs, red meat, and chicken.19 20
  • Fish and shellfish including lobster, crab, and oysters.19 20
  • Milk and dairy products including cheese.19 20

Copper

Recent research reveals the importance of copper in supporting bone health This trace mineral plays multiple key roles in the body including maintaining healthy blood vessels, supporting immune function, enabling iron absorption, and helping to from red blood cells.19 ‡

Good sources of copper include:21

  • Organ meats, shellfish, nuts, and seeds.21
  • Wheat-bran cereals and whole grains.21

Vitamin C

Recent studies on vitamin C underly the importance of vitamin C in maintaining bone health. This vitamin plays a key role in the formation of collagen in bone structures and protects from free radicals which can affect bone health.20 ‡

Your body cannot produce or store vitamin C, so it’s essential you add vitamin C rich foods to your diet. Good sources of vitamin C include:21

  • Vegetables including sweet yellow pepper, mustard spinach, kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.25
  • Fruits including kiwi, lemons, lychees, blackcurrants, guavas, oranges, and acerola cherries.25
  • Herbs including thyme and parsley.25

Manganese

Manganese is a trace metal that works with other bone supporting nutrients to support bone density. Studies point towards manganese’s collaborative role in bone health. Manganese acts as a co-factor for building bone cartilage, collagen, and bone mineralization.22 ‡

And studies that used supplemental manganese combined with calcium, copper, and zinc saw improvements in bone maintenance after menopause, compared to a placebo group.23 ‡

Good sources of manganese include:24

  • Whole grains, clams, oysters, mussels, nuts, soybeans and legumes, rice, leafy vegetables, coffee, tea, spices including black pepper, and drinking water.28

Phosphorus

This mineral is one of the most common substances in your body and environment. Phosphorus plays a critical role throughout your body including supporting kidney, bone, muscle, blood vessel, and cell health.25 ‡

Phosphorus and calcium work together to help build bones. Your body needs the ideal balance of calcium and phosphorus to support healthy bones. If your calcium levels are too high, your body doesn’t absorb enough phosphorus, and vice versa. Additionally, you need adequate vitamin D to correctly absorb phosphorus.29 ‡

Good sources of phosphorus include:29

  • Pork, cod, salmon, and tuna.29
  • Dairy including milk, chocolate, yogurt, eggnog, ricotta and American cheese, and instant pudding.29

Potassium

Recent research shows that people with high intake levels of potassium from fruits and vegetables may have stronger bones. Eating potassium-rich foods may help to increase your bone mineral density.26 ‡

Good sources of potassium include:30

  • Vegetables including acorn squash, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, and broccoli.30
  • Fruits including raisins, bananas, prunes, and orange juice.30
  • Legumes including lentils, kidney beans, and soybeans.30
  • Protein sources including nuts, meat, chicken, and fish.30
  • Dairy including milk and yogurt.30

Vitamin K

Vitamin K has a key role in the body in supporting bone health, blood vessel health, and in heart health. Vitamin K, especially K2, helps the body use calcium in order to maintain healthy bones and blood vessel function.27 ‡

Vitamin K also acts as a cofactor along with vitamin D for building bones and teeth. So not only does it help the body appropriately utilize calcium, but vitamin K may also help with the vital task of strengthening bone and teeth.28 ‡

The best sources of vitamin K include:29 30

  • Leafy greens including kale, mustard greens, swiss chard, spinach, and collard greens.35 36
  • Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli and Brussels sprouts.35 36
  • Lean proteins including natto, pork chops, beef, egg yolk and chicken.35 36
  • Organ meats including liver and kidney.35 36
  • Dairy including whole milk and hard and soft cheeses such as blue cheese, edam, Jarlsberg.35 36
  • Fruits including prunes, kiwi, avocado, blackberries, blueberries, and pomegranate.35 36
  • Nuts and legumes including green beans, green peas, soybeans, and sprouted mung beans.35 36

Protein

As a key macronutrient essential to a range of functions in the body, protein is shown to help bones develop and support bone health. Working with calcium and vitamin D, protein is considered a key bone health nutrient.31 ‡

Numerous studies highlight the impacts of high protein intake with bone density and mineral content. As well, studies suggest the benefits of protein intake and bone health.37 ‡

Good sources of protein include:32

  • Lean meats such as beef, chicken, and pork.38
  • Dairy products including milk, cottage, cheese, and Greek yogurt.38
  • Fish and seafood including tuna and shrimp.38
  • Eggs, broccoli, quinoa, lentils, and nuts and seeds.38

A Balanced Diet for Bone Health

A deep range of minerals, nutrients, and vitamins are essential for bone health and strength. The good news is, eating a varied and balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, dairy or dairy alternatives, whole grains, and dietary fiber can provide your body with the essentials for bone health.

If your diet is restricted due to food intolerances, lifestyle factors, underlying health conditions, or other reasons, supplementation may fill in any nutrient gaps. Discuss supplementation with our healthcare practitioner. As noted above, it’s important to maintain an optimum balance of some nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.

Use our Purely For You personalized supplement plan to provide you with tailored wellness recommendations to meet your specific nutritional needs.

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