Building Strong Bones Requires More than Calcium

As a child you were probably reminded to “drink your milk” in order to have strong bones. While milk is rich in calcium, which is vital to developing strong bones, it’s also important to follow a nutritious diet and exercise regularly to continually build and support healthy bones throughout life.

Why Strong Bones are Important

Bones are the support structure for your body. According to WebMD, bones are living tissue that continually break down, rebuild and reinforce minor weak spots. People who have good genetics and take care of their bodies when they’re young, by eating healthy and exercising, build up a “bone bank” that keeps bones healthy and slows the rate of decline. Those with a limited bone bank may lose more bone substance as they age and be at higher risk for osteoporosis.

How to Build Strong Bones

Many people believe that drinking milk or taking a calcium supplement is the best way to strengthen bones. While calcium is a key ingredient, there are other important factors:

  • Genetics – If your grandparents had strong bones, you probably will too
  • Nutrients and minerals – Stimulate calcium absorption by enjoying foods rich in vitamins D and K, including: calcium-rich foods – yogurt, cheese, milk, spinach, collard greens; foods high in vitamin D – fortified cereal, tuna, sardines, egg yolks, orange juice; and vegetables rich in vitamin K – Spinach, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard
  • High potassium – Support bone health and neutralize acids that remove calcium from the body by regularly eating bananas, yogurt, sweet potatoes and white potatoes with skin
  • Weight-bearing exercises – Strengthen your bones by walking, jumping rope, running, skiing or climbing stairs
  • Caffeinated drinks and alcohol – These beverages can inhibit calcium absorption
  • Smoking – Research shows smoking may increase bone loss and slow calcium intake

To learn more about building strong bones, read these articles:

Time Magazine, “10 Ways to Build Healthy Bones (and Keep Them Strong)

Health.com, “11 Foods for Healthy Bones

Medical News Today, “How To Build Strong Bones & Prevent Osteoporosis – American Council On Exercise Offers Three Moves To Care For Your Bones