Senior Health

9/15/2021 | By Kari Smith

Maintaining bone health as we age may be as simple as eating the correct foods. Although eating all of the right foods to prevent osteoporosis is not necessarily enough on its own, maintaining a balanced diet high in calcium, protein, and vitamins C and D can be helpful in boosting bone health and may prevent having to take extra pills and supplements.

Dairy Products

Calcium is vitally important to the strength and health of our bones. Dairy products – such as milk, cheese, and low-sugar yogurt – are calcium-rich foods that will help to ensure you consume the proper amount of calcium daily. Look for dairy products that are low-fat or non-fat, or those that are fortified with vitamin D, which supports calcium absorption. Plant-based milks, especially those fortified with calcium can be a great source – just remember to shake the carton each time you pour, since added calcium can settle to the bottom of the carton.


Vitamins A and D as well as calcium and magnesium are commonly found in vegetables, especially dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, chard, and collard greens. These can be eaten raw in salads, or cooked and added to other foods such as spaghetti sauce, lasagna, or pasta salads.


Consider trading a sugary dessert for fresh fruit. Fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, pineapple, and strawberries are a great source of vitamin C, and bananas, papaya, and prunes are packed with potassium, which also supports bone health.

Lean Protein

Sources of lean protein, such as skinless chicken breast, fish, and egg whites are great foods to prevent osteoporosis and for supporting bone health. Fish and eggs also contain high levels of vitamin D, which promotes the body’s absorption of calcium. Egg yolk – the main source of vitamin D in an egg – also contains cholesterol, so it may be beneficial to eat one whole egg and an additional egg white or two. Talk to your doctor if you are on a high-protein diet, as high levels of protein can actually cause calcium loss in your body. Canned fish – such as salmon or sardines (with bones) are a great source of calcium.

Healthy Fats

Eating a handful of nuts each day provides the healthy fats that are important to maintaining bone health. Try switching an unhealthy snack for a handful of unsalted almonds or pistachios, or top a salad with sunflower seeds for a healthy crunch.

Fortified Foods to Prevent Osteoporosis

Look for foods fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Some food items that are commonly fortified are cereals, breads, juices, milk, and snacks.

What foods should you avoid to prevent osteoporosis?

Limit the consumption of salt, alcohol, caffeine, and colas, as excessive consumption of these may decrease the absorption of calcium in your body, and may lead to or contribute to bone loss.

There are certain foods that contain substances – such as phytic acid (found in some breads and raw beans), oxalic acid (found in spinach) and sodium, which may prevent your body from absorbing the correct amounts of calcium. These foods may be eaten while increasing the calcium you take in to balance what your body has not absorbed. Keep in mind that your body can only absorb a certain amount of calcium at once, so your calcium intake should be spread amongst all of your daily meals. Speaking to a nutritionist or your doctor may be beneficial in formulating a diet that meets all of your nutritional needs.

If you are unable to consume the recommended amount of vitamins and nutrients recommended by your doctor, ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a vitamin or supplement that will provide an extra boost. However, if you prefer to avoid pills and supplements, eating the correct foods will help to give your body the nutrition it needs to support bone health. Even without an osteoporosis diagnosis, these foods are all part of a healthy diet and may prevent further issues later in life.

Related: 10 Foods That Protect Brain Function

Kari Smith

Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.

Kari Smith