The adult body contains 206 bones which are made from connective tissue that is strengthened by calcium and specialised bone cells. They play an important role in providing support and shape to the body and facilitating freedom of movement, which is why it is important to look after our bones through proper nutrition and exercise. Here are six essential nutrients that may assist in maintaining strong, healthy bones:
Calcium is a mineral needed for healthy bones and teeth. The human body cannot produce calcium therefore we have to ensure that we consume enough calcium through our diet. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts such as almonds and calcium fortified foods like some cereals, orange juice and bread.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is only present in a few foods and is also produced by the skin during sun exposure. It is important for the proper mineralisation of bone and promotes the absorption of calcium, as well as healthy bone growth. There are small amounts of vitamin D in foods such as fish and eggs and it is also available as a dietary supplement. Getting enough sunlight is the best natural way to ensure you get enough vitamin D, but this needs to be achieved safely, minimising your risk to skin damage.
Magnesium is an abundant mineral in the human body, with 50‐60% found in the bones. It is involved in over 300 enzyme reactions and is also necessary for the structural development of bone. Fortunately magnesium is found in many plant and animal foods, including most green vegetables, legumes, beans, peas and nuts.
Vitamin K activates osteocalcin, a protein that regulates calcium which is essential for bone mineralisation. Vitamin K is found in many herbs and green leafy vegetables, such as basil, sage, thyme, parsley, lettuce, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts.
Boron is a mineral which plays a role in calcium metabolism which in turn influences the maintenance of bone and tissue strength. Boron is found in foods such as almonds, avocados, broccoli, potatoes and fruits such as pears, prunes, oranges, bananas, red apples and red grapes.
Manganese is a trace mineral found mainly in the bones, liver and kidneys. It helps the body form connective tissue, bones, blood clotting factors and some hormones. Manganese insufficiency has also been shown to contribute to bone malformation. Good sources of manganese include whole grains, nuts, leafy vegetables and black and green teas.