The adult body contains 206 bones made from connective tissue strengthened by calcium and specialised bone cells. Your bones provide support and shape to your body and facilitate freedom of movement, which is why it is important to look after your bones through proper nutrition and exercise. Here are five vitamins and minerals to help you maintain strong, healthy bones:
Five essential nutrients for bone health
Calcium — the bone builder
Calcium is the building block of healthy bones and teeth. Your body cannot make calcium, so you have to get it regularly in your 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.1
Vitamin D — calcium’s helper
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 essential for bone mineralisation and promotes the absorption of calcium, and supports 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.2
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 supports your bones structural integrity . Fortunately, magnesium is found in many plant and animal foods, including most green vegetables, legumes, beans, peas and nuts.3
Manganese — for healthy bone formation
Manganese is a trace mineral found mainly in the bones, liver and kidneys. It helps the body form connective tissue and bones.4 Manganese is found in whole grains, shell foods, nuts, legumes, rice, leafy vegetables and black and green teas.5 Eating a balanced diet rich in leafy green vegetables, nuts, legumes and quality animal proteins will help support your bone health, helping you stay strong and active as you age.
References available on request.