Eating to Prevent Osteoporosis

Good eating habits are directly related to the prevention of osteoporosis in both men and women. It is often thought that only women suffer from this disease, but this is not true. While women are more prone to develop osteoporosis, men also suffer from this preventable disease.

Osteoporosis causes bones to lose mass and density. As the bones become porous and brittle, the chance of fracture is greatly increased. To lessen the risk of osteoporosis, try to get at least 1,000 mg (adults ages 19-50) to 1,200 mg (adults over 51) of calcium each day.

If you're not meeting your needs, include additional milk and dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt or pudding. Don’t forget foods made with milk such as cheese pizza, lasagna and yogurt shakes. Other foods that are good sources of calcium include calcium-set tofu, canned salmon and sardines with the bones, calcium-fortified juice and broccoli.

Calcium is what strengthens our bones and protects the internal organs. When there is a loss of calcium, we lose strength, and bones become brittle and break more easily. Some simple variations to improve your diet are as follows:
  • For breakfast, use milk instead of water with your cereal and oatmeal. Drink plenty of calcium-fortified orange juice.
  • For lunch, eat yogurt as your dessert, choose milk instead of soda and add cheese to your sandwich.
  • For dinner, prepare canned tomato soup and macaroni and cheese with milk. Have pudding made with milk or frozen yogurt for dessert.
Here is a list of examples of the proper foods you should integrate into your diet to help ward off osteoporosis and become healthier:
  • Whole grains: brown rice, oats, corn, barley, buckwheat, wheat, rye
  • Vegetables: broccoli, carrots, spinach, lettuce, onions, celery, string beans, artichoke, summer squash, endive, cucumbers, asparagus, peppers, parsley, sprouts, tomatoes
  • Beans: split peas, lentils, kidney beans, navy beans, chickpeas, black beans, white beans, soy beans, tofu
  • Nuts and seeds: sunflower, sesame or pumpkin seeds
  • Water: Eight glasses a day
Lastly, if you really don't like dairy products or they don't like you, try some of these tips to increase the amount of calcium in your diet without upsetting your stomach:
  • Use milk in preparing hot chocolate, mashed potatoes, oatmeal and soups.
  • Make a fruit smoothie using yogurt and frozen fruit for a light refreshing meal or snack.
  • Use non-fat plain yogurt to replace part or all of the sour cream, mayonnaise or cream cheese in recipes.
  • Use canned salmon instead of tuna for sandwiches and casseroles.
  • Serve a stir-fry packed with calcium-rich foods like broccoli, bok choy and tofu.
  • Make a sandwich spread from calcium-fortified cottage cheese and chopped veggies.
  • Mix part-skim ricotta cheese with cinnamon and raisins to spread on bagels or English muffins.
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Member Comments

I've complained about this article before, but no one at Spark seems to have noticed. My biggest beef is that it says if you can't have dairy, add dairy! There are LOTS of nondairy ways to get calcium. Celery, cruciferous veggies of all kinds, amaranth, and many beans have a good dose of calcium. I love SparkPeople, but shame on them for this article being so lopsided. Report
Low fat chocolate milk is a good after exercise recovery food. Report
good to know--thanks! Report
thank you Report
Great tips...thank you! Report
Good tips! Thanks! Report
Thanks. Report
I have been working out for many years. I have fibromyalgia, lupus, and arthritis. Walking does help. I also use weights. Use wisdom if you have health issues. Listen to your body. It will tell you what is good for you to do Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
I was just diagnosed with osteoporosis, beginning in my hips and intermediate in my spine. I have always eaten cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. I eat broccoli, spinach and almonds almost daily. I exercise 6 days a week. I also take levothyroxine for hypothyroid. My doctor said osteoporosis is common in hypothyroid men and women— but she didn’t say that the medication caused it. Report
I am in my 70s and to this day even thinking about milk (any kind- whole, skim, etc.) makes me gag. When I was in fifth and sixth grade my teacher made us line up and show her our lunch trays when we were done eating. She would not dismiss us until every bite was eaten and all the milk in the carton was drunk. Milk gives me stomach cramps and my entire afternoon in school was a horror. I bet if they treated convicts in jail like this they would never want to risk going back to jail once released! Some days I would go to the restroom as soon as I was dismissed and throw up, hoping no one would come in because it would be so humiliating. Horrible memories. Report
Even though I have been strength training for over 10 yrs and eat healthy, I am told my bones are weakening. I'm pumping it up, hopefully without a lot of dairy and eating more leafy greens and broccoli everyday. I hope that works! Report
Alternative “milk” products are also good sources of calcium. An 8 ounce glass of almond milk, unseeetened, original, delivers 45% of the daily calcium requirement, only 30 calories and it tastes great. A win-win-win! Report
Good to know. Report