4 Best Foods for Your Bones (and the 4 Worst!)

What are the best foods for bone health? What are the worst? The answers might surprise you!

If you’ve turned on the TV or opened a magazine lately, you’ve probably seen one of those Got Milk? ads touting three glasses a day for bone health. The dairy industry spends billions of dollars to convince us that their products are the end-all when it comes to bone health.

Sure, milk is high in calcium, but there are actually a number of nutrients that come into play when we’re talking bone health. I get into the details a little bit more here, but magnesium is actually just as important for your bones as calcium, and dairy products are not rich in this vital nutrient. Vitamin K is another piece of the bone health puzzle that’s missing from dairy products.

Related Reading: 25 Plant-Based Sources of Calcuim

Fortified milk products do have plenty of vitamin D, but you can also get your fill of this vitamin just by spending a few minutes a day outdoors without sunscreen. Boom! Sunshine vitamin? Check!

OK, so maybe dairy’s not at the top of the list when it comes to best foods for bone health, but where it does fall definitely surprised me. Check out the lists below of the best foods and the worst ones for your bones.

Best Foods for Bone Health

Best Foods for Your Bones

1. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark and leafies, like kale and collard greens pack a one-two-three of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K. When it comes to strong and healthy bones, these are your #1 for sure. Need some leafy green inspiration? Check out these 10 kale recipes to get you started!

2. Seeds

Sprinkle some seeds onto your next salad for some bone-building power. If you want the most bang for your buck, opt for mineral-rich pumpkin seeds.

3. Nuts

Snack on a handful of nuts to protect your bones. You can add them to soups or salads, use them to top casseroles, or even puree them to make creamy vegan desserts (no, really!). Want the most bone-protection power? Walnuts are your friend.

4. Beans

Beans aren’t just a cheap way to round out a meal. They’re also packed with nutrients to keep your bones healthy! Black beans in particular are great for building bone health.

Worst Foods for Bone Health

Worst Foods for Bone Health

1. Dairy Products

I am as surprised as you are! I knew that dairy wasn’t the end all when it comes to bone health, but it turns out that dairy products may leach calcium from bones and increase your risk of fractures over time. What the what?

(See: You CAN Kick the Cheese Habit. Here’s How.)

2. Salt

If you’re trying to eat healthily, chances are that you’re already cutting out the table salt, and here’s one more reason to watch the white stuff: if may increase bone fragility. A Japanese study found that women who ate more salt were four times as likely to fracture a bone.

3. Cola

You may have heard that carbonated beverages or sodapop are bad for your bones, and I found some new research that uncovers what exactly is going on there. Scientists believe that it’s actually the phosphoric acid in cola specifically that depletes your bones.

4. Too Much Protein

Healthy eating is all about balance, and of course you need protein to stay healthy, but there’s some solid evidence that too much of the stuff can weaken your bones. What’s a little bit tricky about this research is that the group who ate less protein also ate a plant-based diet, so it’s unclear whether it’s the amount of protein or the type of protein that’s causing the damage.

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Diane Wayne
Diane Wayne17 hours ago


Peggy B.
Peggy B.21 hours ago

I knew it all except about the dairy. Conflicting reports on that over the years. I'll have to do a search to see what I can discover.

Only Me
Only Me22 hours ago

So fizzy chemical-filled colas aren't good for us? Who'd have though it!! LOL! Dairy is a surprise, though.

Valentina R.
Valentina R.8 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harperabout a year ago


Sonali G.
Sonali G.about a year ago

Ok I will harp on and on about it but I kicked the cheese habit some months ago and I have never looked back. The media and general info will brain wash you in to believing that, as vegetarians you cannot live without huge amounts of dairy but it is a lie. I harly touch any dairy now and I feel so much better for it. In addition my fibroids are actually behaving themselves now for the first time in over a year. I have read that weight loss, exercise and a vegan diet is highly recommended for this disease and it would appear to be true; long may it last. I have also been consuming organic blackstrap mollases every day and it is packed full of nutrients and reputed to help with tumours and helps boost general well being. It is now really beginning to look like I am walking talking evidence of common sense stuff. I would recommend the organic blackstrap mollases for any body

Marie Squire
Marie S.about a year ago

this is interesting, thanx, for it

Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawnabout a year ago

thank you

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harperabout a year ago


Catherine Smith
Catherine Heckelabout a year ago

Thanks for the article