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 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 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 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
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
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 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
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
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 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
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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1. Demontiero, Oddom, Christopher Vidal, and Gustavo Duque. “Aging and bone loss: new insights for the clinician.” Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease. 4 no. 2 (April 2012): 61-76 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3383520/
2. Palacios, Cristina. “The Role of Nutrients in Bone Health, from A to Z.” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 46 (February 2006): 621-8. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6704137_The_Role_of_Nutrients_in_Bone_Health_from_A_to_Z
3. (Accessed September 20, 2021) https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/
4. Weaver, C. M., D. D. Alexander, C. J. Boushey, B. Dawson-Hughes, J. M. Lappe, M. S. LeBoff, S. Liu, A. C. Looker, T. C. Wallace, and D. D. Wang. Osteoporosis International: A Journal Established as Result of Cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA 27, no. 1 (January 2016): 367–76. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00198-015-3386-5.
5. Muñoz-Garach, Araceli, Beatriz García-Fontana, and Manuel Muñoz-Torres. Nutrients 12, no. 7 (July 3, 2020). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12071986.
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7. 10 Natural Ways to Build Healthy Bones: Healthline.org (Accessed September 21, 2021) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/build-healthy-bones
8. Islam, Md Zahirul, Abu Ahmed Shamim, Heli T. Viljakainen, Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman, Atia H. Jehan, Habib Ullah Khan, Ferdaus Ahmad Al-Arif, and Christel Lamberg-Allardt. The British Journal of Nutrition 104, no. 2 (July 2010): 241–47. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114510000437.
9. Dai, Qi, Xiangzhu Zhu, JoAnn E. Manson, Yiqing Song, Xingnan Li, Adrian A. Franke, Rebecca B. Costello, et al. “Magnesium Status and Supplementation Influence Vitamin D Status and Metabolism: Results from a Randomized Trial.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 108, no. 6 (December 1, 2018): 1249–58. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy274.
10. Carpenter, Thomas O., Maria C. DeLucia, Jane Hongyuan Zhang, Gina Bejnerowicz, Lisa Tartamella, James Dziura, Kitt Falk Petersen, Douglas Befroy, and Dorothy Cohen. “A Randomized Controlled Study of Effects of Dietary Magnesium Oxide Supplementation on Bone Mineral Content in Healthy Girls.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 91, no. 12 (December 2006): 4866–72. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2006-1391.
11. Aydin, Hasan, Oğuzhan Deyneli, Dilek Yavuz, Hülya Gözü, Nilgün Mutlu, Işik Kaygusuz, and Sema Akalin. Biological Trace Element Research 133, no. 2 (February 2010): 136–43. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12011-009-8416-8.
12.10 Magnesium-Rich Foods That Are Super Healthy: Healthline.org (Accessed September 21, 2021) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-foods-high-in-magnesium
13. O’Connor, J. Patrick, Deboleena Kanjilal, Marc Teitelbaum, Sheldon S. Lin, and Jessica A. Cottrell. Materials (Basel, Switzerland) 13, no. 10 (May 12, 2020). https://doi.org/10.3390/ma13102211.
14. King, J. C., D. M. Shames, and L. R. Woodhouse. “Zinc Homeostasis in Humans.” The Journal of Nutrition 130, no. 5S Suppl (May 2000): 1360S-6S. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/130.5.1360S.
15. Nielsen, Forrest H., Henry C. Lukaski, LuAnn K. Johnson, and Z. K. Fariba Roughead. “Reported Zinc, but Not Copper, Intakes Influence Whole-Body Bone Density, Mineral Content and T Score Responses to Zinc and Copper Supplementation in Healthy Postmenopausal Women.” The British Journal of Nutrition 106, no. 12 (December 2011): 1872–79. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114511002352.
16. Yamaguchi, Masayoshi. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry 338, no. 1–2 (May 2010): 241–54. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11010-009-0358-0.
17. Minerals for Bone Health: Americanbonehealth.org (Accessed September 21, 2021) https://americanbonehealth.org/nutrition/minerals-for-bone-health/
18. The 10 Best Foods That Are High In Zinc: Healthline.org (Accessed September 21, 2021) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-foods-high-in-zinc
19. Copper: Oregon State University: Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Information Center. (Accessed September 21, 2021) https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/copper
20. Chin, Kok-Ying and Soelaiman Ima-Nirwana. “Vitamin C and Bone Health: Evidence from Cell, Animal and Human Studies.” Current Drug Targets 19, no 5 (2018): 439-50 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26343111/
21. 20 Foods That Are High in Vitamin C: Healthline.org (Accessed September 21, 2021) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-foods
22. Palacios, Cristina. “The Role of Nutrients in Bone Health, from A to Z.” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 46, no. 8 (2006): 621–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408390500466174.
23. Rondanelli, Mariangela, Milena Anna Faliva, Gabriella Peroni, Vittoria Infantino, Clara Gasparri, Giancarlo Iannello, Simone Perna, Antonella Riva, Giovanna Petrangolini, and Alice Tartara. “Essentiality of Manganese for Bone Health: An Overview and Update.” Natural Product Communications 16, no. 5 (May 1, 2021): 1934578X211016649. https://doi.org/10.1177/1934578X211016649.
24. Manganese: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals: National Institutes of Health (Accessed September 21, 2021) https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Manganese-HealthProfessional/
25. How Your Body Use Phosphorus: Healthline.org (September 21, 2021) https://www.healthline.com/health/how-your-body-uses-phosphorus
26. Potassium: Fact Sheet for Consumers: National Institutes of Health (Accessed September 21, 2021) https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-Consumer/
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29. Elder, Sonya J., David B. Haytowitz, Juliette Howe, James W. Peterson, and Sarah L. Booth. “Vitamin k Contents of Meat, Dairy, and Fast Food in the u.s. Diet.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 54, no. 2 (January 25, 2006): 463–67. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf052400h.
30. 20 Foods That Are High in Vitamin K: Healthline.org (Accessed September 20, 2021) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-vitamin-k
31. Bonjour, Jean-Philippe. “Protein intake and bone health.” International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research 81, vol. 23 (March 2011) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22139564/
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‡ These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.