Osteoporosis is a disease that affects millions of Americans, and it can lead to pain, fractures, and trouble moving your body. Fortunately, you can easily find nutrients for preventing and reversing osteoporosis.
You may have a grandmother or another elderly relative who has osteoporosis. It’s characterized by the loss of bone mass. And the risk of fracture to the hip or vertebra greatly increases if you have osteoporosis.
Unfortunately, this disease is not limited to senior citizens.
Many people do not know they have osteoporosis, and it’s possible that you are at risk for it.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 10 million Americans have osteoporosis – 80% are women. That’s because the loss of bone mass accelerates after age 40 and with the onset of menopause.
Osteoporosis also accelerates the aging process in which senescent cells – cells that have stopped replicating – send out inflammatory signals that induce other degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease.
When your bones lose mass, some of it is deposited in your arteries and becomes calcified.
Osteoporosis is also linked to Alzheimer’s disease (1) and cancer (2).
To determine if you have osteoporosis, your physician may recommend a bone mineral density test, lab tests, a physical exam, and weight bearing exercise.
To take care of your bone health, there are a number of nutrients for preventing and reversing osteoporosis. Most of them can be found in foods, but supplements may also be an option.
1. Phytoestrogens assist with reversing osteoporosis
You may already be familiar with phytoestrogens, also known as plant-derived isoflavones, which are being used for hormone replacement therapy in women.
Animal studies have demonstrated they may help to increase bone mass and prevent the loss of bone mineral mass.
Isoflavones are derived from soy and are available in supplement form, which is better since soy is a low quality protein and has protease inhibitors that prevent the digestion of protein.
They can also be found in very low amounts in foods like legumes and nuts, so it’s best when you take it via supplement.
2. Vitamin K, an often overlooked vitamin
The good news in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis is that Vitamin K (which promotes normal blood clotting) can play a major role.
Using doses of 45 mg, Japanese researchers discovered that supplementing with Vitamin K contributes to increased bone mass and strength, and reduces fractures.(3)
Vitamin K can also be safely combined with bisphosphonate drugs used to treat osteoporosis, and you can find it in leafy green foods. However, Vitamin K may not be indicated if you’re taking an anticoagulant, so please consult your physician before you start taking it.
3. Vitamin D is a powerhouse vitamin that can prevent osteoporosis
Long known for being associated with bone health, Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in your bones. It also ensures the correct mineralization and renewal of bone.
We can get a lot of our Vitamin D needs from the sun, and actually 30 minutes exposure to the sun generates about 10,000 IU in your body. But if you can’t get out in the sun, especially during the winter months, Vitamin D3 supplements come in a wide range of dosages.
The Vitamin D Council does not recommend taking more than 10,000 IU per day. And it’s important to have your Vitamin D levels checked annually with a blood test.
Vitamin D is best absorbed in the bloodstream when you take it with food, ideally a heavy meal. This is because it’s fat soluble, not water soluble.
4. Calcium, a mineral you need for prevention of osteoporosis
Just like our parents told us, we need calcium for strong bones and teeth. It’s a very beneficial and easy to find nutrient for preventing osteoporosis.
If your health care professional says you need to use a calcium supplement, dicalcium malate, calcium bisglycinate chelate, and calcium fructoborate are some of the best forms to take. They’re easily absorbed by the body, and you can find these calcium supplements in most drug or supplement stores.
Besides supplements, you should have calcium rich foods in your diet. This is just a partial list, but here some foods that are high in calcium:
- Collard greens
- Broccoli, or broccoli rabe
- Sardines, canned with bones
- Salmon, canned with bones
- Kefir, low fat, unsweetened
- Ricotta, low fat
- Yogurt, low fat
- Mozzarella, part skim
Making calcium rich foods part of your diet is an easy way to prevent osteoporosis. Many of these foods also contain other key nutrients for preventing and reversing osteoporosis.
5. Magnesium to be taken with calcium
Many people do not realize that you need magnesium to regulate calcium transport into the bones to increase bone mineral mass.(4) Because so many people aren’t aware of this, most Americans do not get enough magnesium in their diets.(5)
Not getting enough magnesium can lead to heart disease, type II diabetes, and migraines. If you’re concerned, you can ask your physician to run a blood test to check for a magnesium deficiency.
Taking a magnesium supplement can prevent bone loss and improve the formation of new bone.
If you’re unable to get enough magnesium in your diet, four good forms of magnesium are magnesium oxide, citrate, succinate, and magnesium L-threonate.
Avocados, nuts, legumes, tofu, and seeds are all good sources of magnesium as well.
6. Silicon, a trace mineral that helps reverse osteoporosis
Important in bone health and formation, silica or silicon, assists with bone protein formation.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for Americans to be deficient in silicon. Silicon is integral to the early formation of osteogenic cells important for the deposition of calcium and phosphorus into bone, which is why it’s an important nutrient for preventing osteoporosis.
Animal studies demonstrate that silicon supplementation contributes to the reduction of osteoclast cells, thereby limiting the loss of bone mineral mass.(6)
To get enough silicon in your diet and help prevent osteoporosis, you can find this key nutrient in foods like:
- Bell peppers
- Chickpeas, Red Kidney Beans
- Spinach, mustard greens, lettuce, and endives
- Almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds
7. Collagen, a component of skin helps prevent osteoporosis
Collagen is a protein that plays a very important protective role in your body. It’s often called the body’s scaffolding, and it’s the most abundant protein in our bodies.
Many people only think of collagen being for healthy skin, but it’s needed proper bone strength and density, which can prevent osteoporosis
A published study demonstrated “that supplementation with 5 g of specific collagen peptides significantly increases bone mineral density of the lumbar spine.”(7)
Another published study showed that collagen peptide supplementation improved the remodeling and bone mineralization in postmenopausal women with osteopenia (loss of bone mass).(8)
Your body can make collagen if it has adequate amounts of vitamin C, zinc, and copper. But your body’s natural production of collagen declines with age, which is usually when you start seeing signs of osteoporosis.
Bone broth is a really good source of collagen. You can also find collagen in chicken and even fish scales. Eggs don’t have collagen, but they do contain proline, which is an amino acid your body needs to produce collagen. Foods that contain Vitamin C, like berries and citrus fruit, are important because they’re needed for your body to produce pro-collagen, the precursor to collagen.
You can easily find collagen in the supplement form, too.
8. Vitamin E, an antioxidant that may help prevent osteoporosis
Vitamin E may have a supportive role in preventing osteoporosis in middle aged and elderly people, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.(9) Vitamin E also exerts its anti-osteoporotic actions via its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects.(10)
Vitamin E is a key nutrient for preventing osteoporosis because it supports bone-building cells and it may help retain bone mass.
It’s important that you’re getting enough Vitamin E to reap the benefits it provides, but most people do not need to take megadoses of Vitamin E to benefit from it.
Vitamin E is easily accessible and in adequate doses in foods like:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Butternut Squash
- Kiwi Fruit
- Olive Oil
Stand strong to prevent and reverse osteoporosis
It has been said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
You can strengthen all the links in your chain by using a holistic approach with nutrients to prevent and reverse osteoporosis.
If you haven’t been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you can get ahead of the game with proper nutrition.
With any supplements, please consult with your physician before taking nutritional supplements. This is true if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or are trying to prevent it.
By starting early and taking a multi-faceted approach, you greatly increase your chances of preventing and reversing osteoporosis.
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- Amouzougan A, Lafaie L, Marotte H, et al. High prevalence of dementia in women with osteoporosis. Joint Bone Spine. 2017 Oct; 84(5):611-4.
- Lee HF, Wu CE, Lin YS, et al. Low bone mineral density may be associated with long-term risk of cancer in the middle-aged population: A retrospective observational study from a single center. J Formos Med Assoc. 2018 Apr;117(4):339-45.
- Iwamoto J. Vitamin K(2) therapy for postmenopausal osteoporosis. Nutrients. 2014 May 16;6(5):1971-80.
- Mammoli F, Castiglioni S, Parenti S, et al. Magnesium Is a Key Regulator of the Balance between Osteoclast and Osteoblast Differentiation in the Presence of Vitamin D(3). Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Jan 17;20(2).
- https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/. Accessed August 29, 2016.
- Hott M, et al. Short-term effects of organic silicon on trabecular bone in mature ovariectomized rats. Calcif Tissue Int 1993, 53:174-179.
- Argyrou C, Karlafti E, et al. Effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation with and without collagen peptides on bone turnover in postmenopausal women with osteopenia. J Musculoskelet Neuonal Interact. 2020; 20(1): 12-17.
- https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/association-of-dietary-and-serum-vitamin-e-with-bone- mineral-density-in-middleaged-and-elderly-chinese-adults-a-crosssectional-study/6DF9FA8098F5F87157822FE3EA6FC7E8
- Ahmad N, Srijit D, Isa N. Therapeutic effect of Vitamin E in preventing bone loss: An evidence based review. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research (2019), 89, pp. 357-370.