The Best Foods For Bones: Fruits and Vegetables

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Green Vegetables, beans, tofu, sesame seeds, and even oranges contain lots of usable calcium, without the problems associated with dairy. Keep in mind that you retain the calcium better and just do not need as much when you don't consume a diet heavy in animal products and sodium, sugar, and caffeine.

Many green vegetables have calcium-absorption rates of over 50 percent, compared with about 32 percent for milk.1 Additionally, since animal protein induces calcium excretion in urine, the calcium retention from vegetables is higher. All green vegetables are high in calcium.

The American "chicken and pasta" diet style is significantly low in calcium, so adding dairy as a calcium source to this mineral-poor diet makes superficial sense---it is certainly better than no calcium in the diet. However, much more than just calcium is missing. The only reason cow's milk is considered such an important source of calcium, is that the American diet is centered on animal foods, refined grains, and sugar, all of which are devoid of calcium. Any healthy diet containing a reasonable amount of unrefined plant foods will have sufficient calcium without milk. Fruits and vegetables strengthen bones. Researchers have found that those who eat the most fruits and vegetables have denser bones.2 These researchers concluded that not only are fruits and vegetables rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other nutrients essential for bone health, but, because they are alkaline, not acid-producing, they do not induce urinary calcium loss. Green vegetables in particular, have a powerful effect on reducing hip fractures, for they are rich not only in calcium but in other nutrients, such as vitamin K, which is crucial for bone health.3

1. Weaver, C.M., and K. L. Plawecki. 1994. Dietary calcium: adequacy of a vegetarian diet. AM. J. Clin. Nutr. 59 (supp.): 1238-41S.

2. Tucker, K. L., M. T. Hannan, H. Chen, et al. 1999. Potassium, magnesium, and fruit and vegetable intake are associated with greater mineral density in elderly men and women. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 69 (4): 727-36; New, S. A., S. P. Robins, M.K. Campbell, et al. 2000. Dietary influences on bone mass and bone metabolism: further evidence of a positive link between fruit and vegetable consumption and bone health? Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 71 (1):142-51.

3. Feskanich, D., P. Weber, W.C. Willett, et al. 1999. Vitamin K intake and hip fractures in women: a prospective study. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 69 (1):74-79.

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Jane Jacobs - May 4, 2006 8:08 PM

I have Inflammatory Bowel Disease--Ulcerative Proctitis. I took the CHIP program and I don't eat meat or fish anymore or dairy products. I do occasionally eat wheat and eggs in my waffles. I do have blood in my stools still. I take Salofalk suppositories for the blood.I've been using Salofalk since March 2003; can Salofalk suppositories 500 mg give me cancer of the colon in the future? Should I go off all wheat, oil, spelt, kamut and dairy products? I drink 2 cups of warm water in the morning with one tablespoon of flax oil, with a probiotic, then eat wheat free, gluten free porridge.Should I have my blood checked to see what I'm allergic to? Is it my emotions that is causing the bleeding? Thanks, Jane Jacobs

Hortensia - May 29, 2006 2:40 AM

I know how important vitamin D is.I am am afro-american woman in my late 50's and need to protect my face from the the sun because of melasma. I try to get sun to the rest of my body but it is not always possible. How much direct sun do I need in order to get my daily requirement. I am a color similar to Oprah. (we all know who Ophrah is, the only reason I used her as an example.)

hamna - February 28, 2010 2:40 AM

i m 34 years old ,i feel very high pain in backbone and my legs. Dr. sayz u need lots of calcium in ur diet .
so plz send me a daily diet planer .and tell me in each day how much calcium i need?
waiting for ur reply,

sandy - May 29, 2010 1:25 AM

hi my name is sandy i am 26 yrs old i want to what diet i should follow for making strong bones and good size body with out tummy

prabhakaran - December 4, 2010 1:17 AM

i am sports man and also i walking every day more for my work related, inow i am facing problem for knee, as per doctor i have to do operation for my knee.
aprat that also have leg and black pain etc normally i am so concern about my health, now i am facing problem , ii want to know how to give good health for my bones and leg also i would like to know how to find out born cancer etcccccc

maggie - May 15, 2011 1:42 AM

I have osteopenia and have just started taking Alendronic Acid 70 mg one a week,could you please advice on what best food to eat. Thank you.

Mohamed Basheer - September 1, 2011 1:21 AM

i am an employee in finance department, daily continues sitting in office 9 hrs.i am facing problem for left knee pain, as per doctor i have to do operation for my knee.
aprat that also have leg and black pain etc normally i am so concern about my health, now i am facing problem , i want to know how to give good health for my bones, back and leg also advise which exercises can be taken.

R. Wegner - March 3, 2012 9:39 PM

Hi Mohammed.
I have had problems with my back and knee as well. My mother is a physiotherapist, and she has shown me a couple of exercises that has done wonders to both my back and knee. First off you lie on your back, arms out to each side, legs up in the air. What you do now, is to pretend your on a bicycle - push down the pedals - the most important thing about this exercise is that when you "push down the pedals" you relax your gluteal muscles (a.k.a your butt cheeks) if you hear your knee/s or back "crack" so to speak it's a sign, that you're doing it right. Of course if you start to feel pain in your back/knee you'll have to stop. Also sitting in the office 9 hours a day, you'll have to be extremely cautious that you're not rounding your back, as it results in your back carrying your whole upper body weight, which in the end (if you're unlucky) can cause a disc herniation (diskusprolaps) and can also affect your knee/s. You need to sit up straight, shoot your chin back, and try to make your shoulderblades touch one another. It's tough in the beginning, but trust me youre doing yourself a huge favour.
- And of course I'm obligated to say exercise in general is important!

I hope I could be to some help. R.

Steven - July 12, 2012 12:29 PM

I am a cc and track runner and I had just gone to the Jim Ryan running camp and now i have a stress fracture, i would like to know the best recovery foods so i can resume my training as soon as possible. Thanks, steven

Akbar Masood - March 18, 2013 2:37 AM

I have serious back pain with disturbed verteabras and weakened bones. Please let me know the ideal food, fruits and vegetables for strengthening of my bones.

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