What are the six key nutrients for bone health?
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. Osteoporosis is a silent condition of the bones which gradually causes them to become weak and more likely to fracture. It is important to look after our bones through proper nutrition and exercise in order to help prevent the development of this disease. Here are six essential nutrients for 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.3
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 in the gut, 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.5
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.7
It has been known for a long time that vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting, but more recently it has been found to improve bone health as well; vitamin K may help to reduce fractures and increase bone mineral density in people with osteoporosis. 8 Vitamin K is found in many herbs and green leafy vegetables, such as basil, sage, thyme, parsley, lettuce, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts.9
Boron is a mineral which plays a role in calcium metabolism which in turn influences the maintenance 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.10
Manganese is a trace mineral found mainly in the bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas. It helps the body form connective tissue, bones, blood clotting factors and some hormones. Manganese deficiency has also been shown to contribute to bone malformation.11 Good sources of manganese include whole grains, nuts, leafy vegetables and black and green teas.12