Osteoporosis is a bone disease that develops when bone mineral density and bone mass decrease or when the quality or structure of the bones changes. This can lead to a decrease in bone strength, increasing the risk of fractured bones.

Osteoporosis is a ‘silent’ disease because you typically do not have symptoms and you may not even know you have the disease until you break a bone. Osteoporosis is the major cause of fractures in postmenopausal women and older men. Fractures can occur in any bone but happen most often in bones of the hip, vertebrae in the spine and wrist.

(Read more: Post Menopausal Osteoporosis)

Your genes are responsible for determining your height and the strength of your skeleton, but lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise influence how healthy your bones are. Certain lifestyle changes like having a balanced diet and avoiding dieting for long periods of time can help prevent osteoporosis. In case supplementation is required, you must consult with a doctor and take the recommended dosage. Following are a few food-related changes that you can implement to treat and prevent osteoporosis.

  1. Calcium-rich diet for osteoporosis
  2. Vitamin D-rich diet for osteoporosis
  3. Protein-rich diet for Osteoporosis
  4. Vitamin C rich diet for Osteoporosis
  5. Osteoporosis diet for vegetarians and lactose intolerant people
  6. Osteoporosis diet: Dangerous foods to avoid
  7. Takeaways
  8. Doctors for Osteoporosis Diet

Calcium is one of the main bone-forming minerals and an appropriate supply of it to the bones is essential at all stages of life. If you have a calcium deficiency, you may notice symptoms like weak bones, dental issues, fluctuation in blood pressure, etc. There are certain food options that you can add to your regular diet to meet your calcium requirements and make your bones healthy:

(Read more: Calcium-rich Indian food)

Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, both conditions where the ratio of mineral to osteoid in the bones is reduced. Poor vitamin D status in the elderly (plasma levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D above those associated with osteomalacia) has been linked to age-related bone loss and osteoporotic fracture. 

The prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency ranges from 40% to 99%, with most studies reporting it to be between 80% and 90%. Vitamin D is needed for the maintenance of normal blood levels of calcium and phosphate, which are required for normal mineralization of bone, muscle contraction, nerve conduction and general cellular function in all cells of the body. So check your vitamin D levels and go for supplementation if needed. Meanwhile, spend some time soaking up sunlight and add the following foods to your diet to avoid the deficiency and improve bone health:

  • Fatty fish
  • Eggs
  • Mushrooms
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Vitamin D fortified food products such as breakfast cereals, juice and milk

Dietary protein is said to be a key nutrient for bone health at every stage of life and so it plays an important part in the prevention of osteoporosis. Studies say that protein makes up about 50% of the volume of bone and about a third of its mass. To increase your protein intake, try to include one protein-rich food item in each meal. You can choose from pulses, legumes, milk and milk products, egg, chicken and fish. 

We all know of the boost Vitamic C gives our immune system but some research says that here was a significantly lower risk of developing osteoporosis in patients with high vitamin C intake as well. Try to add vitamin C through natural sources for better absorption in the body. You can add oranges, lemon, sweet lime, green chilli, tomato, broccoli and green leafy vegetables in your daily diet to avoid a vitamin C deficiency

Milk and animal-based food products are ideal foods for healthy bones. If you are vegetarian or have lactose intolerance, you will need to be extra careful about your diet. Try to add finger millet flour in your dough for chapatis. For milk supplements, you can use nut milk and butter and always check for calcium and vitamin D fortification in these food items. 

There are certain foods and habits that are harmful for the absorption of calcium and may worsen the health of your bones. Some of them are: 

  • Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to bone loss. (Read more: Alcoholism)
  • Your body doesn’t absorb calcium well from foods that are high in oxalates (oxalic acid) such as spinach, beetroot, cocoa powder, peanut, sweet potato, turnip greens and star fruit. Ensure that you include other calcium sources in your diet.
  • High caffeine intake can inhibit the absorption of essential nutrients which are required for bone health. So try to limit your consumption of tea, coffee, soft drinks and energy drinks.
  • Eating foods that have a lot of salt or sodium causes your body to lose calcium; this can lead to bone loss. Try to limit the consumption of processed foods, canned foods and salt added to the foods you eat every day. Before buying any packaged foods check the nutrition label to know about the sodium content.

Be careful about your diet and lifestyle choices. Opt for fresh and home-cooked balanced meals, engage in regular physical activity and go for full-body check-ups on a regular basis to prevent osteoporosis. Discuss the need for supplementation with your doctor if required.

Dt. Rajni Sharma

Dt. Rajni Sharma

Dietician
6 Years of Experience

Dt. Ayushi Shah

Dt. Ayushi Shah

Dietician
2 Years of Experience

Dr. Yogita Johar

Dr. Yogita Johar

Dietician
1 Years of Experience

Dt. Miksha Arora

Dt. Miksha Arora

Dietician
2 Years of Experience

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References

  1. Arnaud C D, Sanchez S D. The role of calcium in osteoporosis. Annu Rev Nutr. 1990;10:397-414. PMID: 2200470.
  2. Higgs Jennette, Derbyshire Emma, Styles Kathryn. Nutrition and osteoporosis prevention for the orthopaedic surgeon: A wholefoods approach. EFORT Open Rev. 2017 Jun; 2(6): 300–308. PMID: 28736622.
  3. Hill Thomas R., Aspray Terry J. The role of vitamin D in maintaining bone health in older people. Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis. 2017 Apr; 9(4): 89–95. PMID: 28382112.
  4. Finck Henriette, Hart Andrew R, Jennings Amy, Welch Ailsa A. Is there a role for vitamin C in preventing osteoporosis and fractures? A review of the potential underlying mechanisms and current epidemiological evidence. Nutr Res Rev. 2014 Dec;27(2):268-83. PMID: 25412684.
  5. Brzezińska Olga, Łukasik Zuzanna, Makowska Joanna, Walczak Konrad. Role of Vitamin C in Osteoporosis Development and Treatment—A Literature Review. Nutrients. 2020 Aug; 12(8): 2394. PMID: 32785080.
  6. Shams-White Marissa M et al. Dietary protein and bone health: a systematic review and meta-analysis from the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jun;105(6):1528-1543. PMID: 28404575.
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