Note: The following information is not a substitute for discussing your nutrient and general health needs with your physician or health care provider.
Strong, healthy bones are the foundation for lifelong vitality and independence. The bone mass attained early in life—before age 30 or so—may be the most important determinant of bone health as you get older. Here are tips to help you eat well now.
- Eat a nutritious diet with foods high in calcium and magnesium as well as vitamin D, which is needed for the absorption of calcium. Vitamin K and minerals such as magnesium are also important for bone health. A key recommendation is to consume 3 cups daily of low-fat or fat-free milk or equivalent milk products. Other sources of calcium include breakfast cereals and fruit juices specifically fortified with calcium; canned fish with soft bones, such as salmon, sardines and anchovies; dark-green leafy vegetables, such as collards and turnip greens; soy-based beverages with added calcium; and tofu made with calcium sulfate (check the ingredient list). Some women also choose to take a "calcium with added vitamin D" supplement.
- Walk, dance, hike, climb stairs or enjoy other weight-bearing activities. Bones need to be used to be strong.
- Stop smoking, if you haven't already.
- Moderate your intake of, or avoid, alcoholic beverages and caffeine.
- Encourage your teenage daughter to eat well now. Teens concerned about weight and image can choose from the many low-fat dairy products available, and trendy cartons now make drinking milk hip, not childlike.
- Remind the men in your life that they also can be at risk for thinning bones.
Dr. Bahram Arjmandi on bone health and dried plums
Dr. Bahram Arjmandi, PhD, RD, talks about how eating dried plums (prunes) may help strengthen bones and prevent bone loss associated with osteoporosis. Eating dried plums may even reverse bone loss.
Fruits—including dried plums—and bone health
Research has discovered that dried plums prevented bone loss in an animal model of postmenopausal osteoporosis and helped restore bone mass after the loss had already occurred in the animals. A small clinical trial with postmenopausal women not on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) discovered that women who ate about 12 dried plums daily experienced an increase in biomarkers that measure the rate of bone formation. Another 12-month study with postmenopausal women assessed both bone biomarkers and bone mineral density. Compared to the control food/fruit, 10-12 dried plums significantly increased bone mineral density in the spine and forearm. In addition, research has also discovered that dried plums prevent age-related bone loss in a mouse model.
Arjmandi, B.H. et. al. "Dried Plums Prevent Ovariectomy-Induced Bone Loss in Rats." JANA 4, no. 1 (2001): 50–56.
Arjmandi, B.H. et. al. "Dried Plums Improve Indices of Bone Formation in Postmenopausal Women." Journal of Women's Health and Gender-Based Medicine 11, no. 1 (2002): 61–68.
Smith, B.J. et. al. "Dried Plum Prevents Bone Loss in a Male Osteoporosis Model via IGF-I and the RANK Pathway." BONE 39, no. 6 (December 2006).
Halloran BP, et al."Dietary Died Plum Increases Bone Mass in Adult and Aged Male Mice." J Nutr (2010) 140: 1781-87.
Hooshmand S. Arjmandi, B.H. et al. "Comparative Effects on Dried Plums and Dried Apple on Bone in Postmenopausal Women." Br J Nutr. 2011:106:923-930