A Good Osteoporosis Diet Can Strengthen Your Bones And Be Yummy Too
A good osteoporosis diet will include lots of leafy green vegetables, tofu, beans and legumes, but will it contain enough vitamin D?
Vitamin D3 supplements are recommended for people living in Canada and in the northern USA.
The highest Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) and recommendations of the Osteoporosis Foundation for an osteoporosis diet are:
- 1,500 mg of calcium
- 1,000-4,000 IU of vitamin D
- 120 ug Vitamin K
- 420 mg of magnesium
- 1.5-3 mg boron (unspecified)
All of the above will be found in an osteoporosis diet... except for Vitamin D.
A daily Vitamin D3 supplement is recommended for everyone living north of the 42nd latitude (north of Boston, Rome or Beijing) although the vitamin D dosage will vary depending on a variety of factors and should be monitored through an annual vitamin D blood test.
Remember to eat your veggies!
In addition to eating the right foods, it is also important to avoid excessive meat, salt and sodium in our osteoporosis diets.
Maintaining the optimal amount of acid in our digestive process improves calcium absorption and is facilitated by an alkaline diet that favours fruit and vegetables rather than too much meat.
It is often confusing to figure out where to find the recommended vitamins and minerals for an osteoporosis diet that we truly enjoy.
Below are some super-foods in each vitamin category with the nutrient content as reported on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. (This is the foundation of most food and nutrition databases in the US and is used in food policy, research and nutrition monitoring.)
What About Dairy?
Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium for people who are not lactose intolerant and they are usually fortified with Vitamin D3.
Our ability to absorb the calcium in dairy products is also comparable to that gained from calcium carbonate (26%) and calcium citrate (22%) supplements.
- Milk: 26.7%
- Chocolate Milk: 23.2%
- Yogurt: 25.4%
- Cheese: 22.9%
* American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
The amount of calcium within our dairy products decreases with the increase of fat content within a product. This is great news for people trying to control their weight!
- Milk(1 Cup skim): 504 mg.
- Milk (1 Cup 1%): 290 mg.
- Yogurt (8 oz plain, skim): 452
- Yogurt (8 oz. plain, whole): 275 mg.
- Ricotta (1 Cup part skim): 509 mg.
- Cottage Cheese (1 Cup 2%): 206 mg.
- Swiss Cheese (1 oz.): 224 mg.
- Mozzarella (1 oz. part skim): 207 mg.
- Mozzarella (1 oz. whole): 143 mg.
- Cheddar (1 oz.): 204 mg.
- Feta (1 oz.): 141 mg.
- Brie (1 oz.) 52 mg.
What About Vegetables?
Research suggests that the ideal osteoporosis diet consists of a blend of minerals and vitamins that includes vitamin K and magnesium.
Dairy products are higher than leafy greens in calcium but lack the vitamin K needed to push the calcium into our bones.
Leafy green vegetables are an outstanding source of calcium and vitamin K while tofu and beans are an excellent source of calcium and magnesium-especially if the tofu is made with calcium sulfate.
Greens (1 cup boiled and drained)
- Collard (190 g.): 266 mg.calcium and 836 ug vitamin K
- Rapini/Broccoli raab (100 g.): 118 mg.calcium and 256 ug vitamin K
- Kale (130g.): 94 mg.calcium and 1062 ug vitamin K
- Bok Choy-Chinese Cabbage (170g.): 158 mg.calcium and 57ug. vit.K
- Broccoli (1 stalk 180g.): 72 mg.calcium and 254 ug. vitamin K
- Spinach (1 cup fresh): 889 ug.vitamin K
- Swiss Chard (1 cup boiled): 573 mcg vitamin K
We have not listed the calcium content of spinach or swiss chard because their oxalate content decreases calcium absorption. (Our bodies can absorb about half of the calcium present in broccoli, yet only around 5% of the calcium in spinach.)
But spinach and swiss chard are still outstanding within an osteoporosis diet as they are excellent sources of vitamin K- which is needed to push calcium into our bones.
Tofu (1 cup)
- Tofu (firm-magnesium chloride): 506 mg. calcium and 94 mg. magnesium
- Tofu (soft-magnesium chloride): 275 mg. calcium and 67 mg. magnesium
- Tofu (firm-calcium sulfate): 1722 mg. calcium and 146 magnesium
- Tofu (regular-calcium sulfate): 868 mg. calcium and 75 mg. magnesium
Beans and legumes also provide an excellent source of calcium and magnesium but lack the strong complement of vitamin K found in leafy greens.
Beans and Legumes (1cup canned or cooked)
- Soybeans (172g.): 175 mg.calcium and 148 mg. magnesium
- White beans (262 g.): 191 mg.calcium and 134 mg. magnesium
- Baked beans (246 g.):138 mg.calcium and 84 mg. magnesium
- Chickpeas/Garbanzo (240 g.): 77 mg.calcium and 70 mg. magnesium
- Red kidney beans (256 g.): 64 mg.calcium and 72 mg. magnesium
- Lentils cooked (198 g.):38 mg. calcium and 71 mg. magnesium
If you like Japanese or Korean food, you will find that 100 grams of dried seaweed provides the very best combination of calcium and magnesium... although not all seaweed is created equal.
- Seaweed (agar): 625 mg. calcium and 770 mg. magnesium
- Seaweed (spirulina): 120 mg. calcium and 195 mg. magnesium
A great osteoporosis diet will include:
- leafy greens and tofu, and
- leafy greens and beans.
Excessive animal protein within a bone building program is not recommended. There is significant research suggesting that an alkaline diet is best for preventing bone loss.
What About Drinks?
People who avoid dairy products may prefer a calcium-fortified nondairy beverage such as soy milk or orange juice. As with all sources of calcium, absorption is an important consideration.
Notice that soy drinks are not a replacement for green vegetables or tofu as they contain much less magnesium (if any) and no vitamin K.
Soymilk (1 cup)
- soymilk (lowfat): 199 mg. calcium
- soymilk (nonfat): 282 mg. calcium and 24 mg. magnesium
Studies have shown that calcium in soy milk is absorbed at 75% of the efficiency of the calcium in cow’s milk... possibly due to the use of vitamin D2 rather than the D3 used in milk.
(A study by Canadian expert Dr. Vieth, recommends that vitamin D2 no longer be considered as adequate to fortify or supplement foods while the National Osteoporosis Foundation believes D2 and D3 to be of equivalent value.)
Orange Juice (1 cup-300 mg.calcium)
Fortified juices can vary substantially in the type of calcium that is used in the product.
Researchers at Creighton University found that women who drank juice fortified with calcium citrate malate absorbed 48 percent more calcium than those that drank juice fortified with the tricalcium phosphate/calcium lactate group.
Tropicana is a well known brand that uses calcium malate to fortify its juices.
- Tropicana (calcium malate)
- Minute Maid (calcium lactate and 200 IUs of D3)
- President’s Choice (calcium lactate)
It is important to shake calcium fortified drinks as the calcium can settle on the bottom.
There are many opportunities to get all the calcium we need from the above foods. But research shows that excessive animal protein can still undermine our bone health diet by withdrawing calcium from our bones during the digestive process.
Reducing meat consumption and adding beans and tofu to our diet is a winning strategy when designing a good osteoporosis diet.