Bone is a living, growing tissue.
Poor bone health can cause conditions such as rickets and osteoporosis and increase the risk of breaking a bone from a fall later in life.
Our bones ones are made up of collagen, a protein that forms a soft framework for bone, and a mineral component called hydroxyapatite, made primarily of calcium and phosphorus which are deposited in this framework to give bones strength and hardness.
In addition to protein, calcium and phosphorus, there are other nutrients that help support bone health that we need to obtain from our diets.
Here are some key bone-building nutrients and what food sources we can find them in.
Calcium makes up about 2% of your total body weight, and most of it is stored in your skeleton.
What food sources: Milk and milk products (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.), almonds, green leafy vegetables.
Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body, and it combines with calcium to form the crystalline structure of bone.
What food sources: Phosphorus is in many different foods, and most people get plenty in the diet. Major sources include milk, fish, poultry, meat, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from the digestive tract.
What food sources: Fatty fish, liver, some fortified foods. Many people don’t consume enough vitamin D, however, and may benefit from taking supplements.
Magnesium stimulates the production of the hormone calcitonin, which helps to move calcium from the bloodstream into the bones. It’s also needed to convert vitamin D into its active form, which supports calcium absorption.
What food sources: Green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Potassium helps to maintain calcium balance in the body, and it helps to reduce the loss of calcium in urine.
What food sources: Melons, tomatoes, bananas, peaches, oranges, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, beans.
Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of collagen, the protein matrix of bone tissue.
What food sources: Citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwifruit, peppers, green leafy veggies.
Boron is a mineral that supports the body’s use of other bone-building nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D.
What food sources: Dried fruits like prunes, raisins and apricots, also peanut butter and avocados.
These are just a few of the many reasons it’s so important to have a well-balanced, colourful, diet that incorporates all the food groups, and not just for healthy, happy bones.
Food really is the most underrated medicine and preventative tool we have to reduce risk of chronic disease, maintain a healthy weight, and age well.
To see what the Australian Dietary Guidelines say about a well balanced diet, head to