Good foods for osteoporosis

First things first, no spoilers here so no need to read slowly, one line at a time, with your mouse hovering over the Close Window button.

I notice things like Easter eggs and mistakes/goofs when I watch TV/Movies but my favorite thing to spot is what my fictional characters are reading–and the inmates of OITNB read a lot. Whether it’s because of the amount of time they have on their hands or because the writers are huge fans of reading (as writers tend to be) I’m a big fan of all the book-love I see. (I’m also a big fan of Netflix releasing season 3 a day early!)

So let’s do this! Here are the book covers and bookish conversations I spied while watching Orange is the New Black season 3. (If you’re like me you’re TBR shelf is about to get much heavier.)

“Mother’s Day” brings us a Triwizard Tournament Harry Potter reference from Taystee, a reading of Calvin and Hobbes, and a clown’s pep-talk that uses Freakonomics to discuss abortion. (One of those might be a fun scene for those still traumatized by IT.)

“Bed Bugs and Beyond” shows Red carrying Sophomore Year is Greek to Me, Chapman closing a book I couldn’t make out (Anyone? Anyone?), and Poussey lists the Rats of NIMH as a top 5 book.

“Empathy Is a Boner Killer” is where Poussey steals the show with her “titles to honor” speech: Great Expectations; THE BFG; The Dictionary; Sister Souljah; A High Wind in Jamaica; ALL of David Sedaris “or Sedari?”; The Treasure of Sierra Madre; The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin; The Jonathans: Swift, Lethem, Tropper, Franzen, Kellerman; Jonathan Livingston Seagull. (Make room Rory Gilmore cause Poussey has a new reading challenge!!)

“Fake It Till You Fake It Some More” shows Poussey going through the card catalog and asking Taystee if she’s ever read Arms and the Man, Taystee mentions Winnie-the-Pooh, and Vause quotes Philip K. Dick. (Trivia Answer: Philip K. Dick wrote Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which is the book Blade Runner was adapted from.)

“Fear, and Other Smells” shows Caputo and Alex having their priorities straight: Caputo says, “We need books in the library!” and Alex retires early to read An English Interpretation of The Holy Qur’an– the cover will be clear in the next episode. (Don’t worry about the request for new books, the inmates find new reading material thanks to a fellow inmate.)

“Where My Dreidal At” shows Gloria and Red sharing a cookbook: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. (If it makes the prison food taste better it must be a damn good cookbook!)

“We Can Be Heroes” shows Red lounging with the book We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and Poussey suggesting that an inmate write a trilogy like The Hunger Games. (Red and Poussey should really start a book club: Red can supply the books and Poussey can bring the hooch.)

“Don’t Make Me Come Back There” shows Boo channeling her inner The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and a CO feeling like he’s in Narnia over a bag of mysterious fruit.

“Trust No Bitch” shows Piper pretending to read Rebuilding Your Bones with Butter; a book Flaca questions the science of while returning a book she disliked. (I’m thinking–hoping–the Butter book is a joke since I didn’t find it anywhere.)

Bonus: The author of Sleepwalk with Me, Mike Birbiglia, is a new cast member.

And to finish this OITNB Season 3 Book Round-up here’s an image of all the books (cause books are purdy) in case you want a reading challenge and/or to pretend you’re in a book club with the Litchfield ladies.

Book Riot Live is coming! Join us for a two-day event full of books, authors, and an all around good time. It’s the convention for book lovers that we’ve always wanted to attend. So we are doing it ourselves.

Ask the experts

My grandmother has osteoporosis, and I’m worried that I may get it, too. Which foods should I eat to prevent osteoporosis?

Doctor’s response

It’s great that you are looking to do something about osteoporosis now. Prevention is very important because even though there are many treatment options for those who have it, there is no cure once you do. Your diet plays a key role in this. The key areas to focus on are:

Calcium: This is a mineral that your body needs every day for many functions. Calcium plays a role in maintaining the strength of your bones and teeth, as well as the functioning of your heart, nerves, and blood clotting. Unfortunately, the majority of the population is not taking in the required daily amount of calcium. When this happens, your body will use the supply that you have from your bones to support the other functions that it is needed for. For this reason, it’s imperative that you meet your daily requirements every day. Your dietary sources of calcium are:

  • Dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese and calcium-fortified cottage cheese
  • Green leafy vegetables: broccoli, kale, collard greens, dried figs, turnip greens, and mustard greens
  • Fish: canned salmon and sardines with the bones
  • Nuts: almonds and Brazil nuts
  • Enriched foods: cereals, orange juice, beverages, and breads that have calcium added to them

There are things in your diet that can interfere with how much calcium your body can absorb:

  • Phytic acid: This is found in unleavened bread, raw beans, seeds, and grains.
  • Oxalic acid: This is found in spinach. The calcium that spinach contains will not be absorbed because of this.
  • Sodium: High levels of sodium will interfere with calcium retention; the higher your sodium intake the more calcium your body needs to meet its daily requirements, so it’s best to keep your sodium intake down.

You can usually meet your needs by having a diet balanced with high-calcium foods. If you need to take a supplement to reach your requirements, speak with your physician about the best one for you. Your body does not absorb more than 500 mg of calcium at one time, so do not try to get all of your calcium in at one meal.

Vitamin D: This is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes from food and from your body being exposed to the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. The UV rays from the sun trigger the production of vitamin D in your skin. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, so it is as essential as calcium is. The sources of vitamin D are:

  • UV rays from the sun: This is probably the most ideal source of vitamin D. An exposure of 10 to 15 minutes of sun to your hands, face, arms, or back without sunscreen for at least two times per week is usually sufficient to provide adequate vitamin D synthesis. Sunscreen, skin color, season, geographic latitude, time of day, clouds, and smog affect UV ray exposure and vitamin D synthesis.
  • Fortified milk
  • Fish: salmon, mackerel, and tuna fish
  • Egg yolk

Protein: Maintain a balance of high-protein foods in your diet. These foods include meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, cheese, beans, and dairy.

Phosphorus: This supports building bone and other tissue during growth. There is a wide availability of this in foods, so it is not difficult to get adequate amounts in. Sources of phosphorus are:

  • Dairy foods: milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Meat
  • Baked goods
  • Cereal
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Soda

There are numerous other vitamins and minerals that can play a role in preventing osteoporosis. If you would like a detailed list of these, including their food sources, you can go to to read about them in Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Hopefully, looking over the list of foods will make you realize that a balanced diet, with foods from all of the foods groups, is the ideal way to reach all of your nutritional requirements.

Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis can lead to serious and sometimes disabling fractures, particularly in the vertebrae and hip. The condition is more common among women than men, and more prevalent among Caucasians than other racial groups. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, conducted between 1988 and 1991, the age-adjusted prevalence of osteoporosis in women aged 50 years and older was 21 percent in U.S. whites, compared to 16 percent for Mexican Americans and 10 percent for African Americans.1 Similarly, a 1988 Texas study showed that hip fracture rates (a sign of osteoporosis) were much lower among African American (55 per 100,000) and Mexican American women (67 per 100,000) than white women (139 per 100,000).2

While patients tend to assume that boosting their calcium intake will ensure strong bones, research clearly shows that calcium intake is only part of the issue and that simply increasing calcium intake is an inadequate strategy. No less important is reducing calcium losses. The loss of bone mineral probably results from a combination of genetics and dietary and lifestyle factors, particularly the intake of animal protein, salt, and possibly caffeine, along with tobacco use, physical inactivity, and lack of sun exposure.

Animal protein tends to leach calcium from the bones, leading to its excretion in the urine. Animal proteins are high in sulfur-containing amino acids, especially cystine and methionine. Sulfur is converted to sulfate, which tends to acidify the blood. During the process of neutralizing this acid, bone dissolves into the bloodstream and filters through the kidneys into the urine. Meats and eggs contain two to five times more of these sulfur-containing amino acids than are found in plant foods.3

International comparisons show a strong positive relationship between animal protein intake and fracture rates. Such comparisons generally do not take other lifestyle factors, such as exercise, into account. Nonetheless, their findings are supported by clinical studies showing that high protein intakes aggravate calcium losses. A 1994 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when animal proteins were eliminated from the diet, calcium losses were cut in half.4 Patients can easily get adequate protein from grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits.

Sodium also encourages calcium to pass through the kidneys. While patients tend to associate sodium with high blood pressure, its effect on calcium is equally important. People who reduce their sodium intake to 1-2 grams per day cut their calcium requirement by an average of 160 milligrams per day. It helps to encourage your patients to avoid salty snacks and canned foods with added sodium, and to minimize salt use in the kitchen and at the table.5

Caffeine’s diuretic effect causes the loss of both water and calcium, and appears to be significant at consumption levels equivalent to two or more cups of coffee per day.6

Smoking is also a contributor to calcium loss. A study of identical twins showed that long-term smokers had a 44 percent higher risk of fracture compared to their non-smoking twins.7

Active people keep calcium in their bones, while sedentary people tend to lose calcium. Physical activity may be part of the reason why people in the nonindustrialized world have fewer fractures. Simple weight-bearing exercises can be recommended for patients at virtually any age.

Vitamin D is also important, as it controls how efficiently the body absorbs and retains calcium. In a 1997 study of 389 subjects who were given either a combination of 700 IU of cholecalciferol and 500 milligrams of calcium citrate malate or a placebo each day, 11 people in the treated group had fractures over a three-year period, compared to 26 in the placebo group.8

A few minutes of sunlight on the skin each day normally produces all the vitamin D the body needs. However, people who get little or no sun exposure, who live in areas with less direct sunlight, who have darker skin, or who are older, may need a vitamin D supplement. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for healthy adults is 600 IU (5 micrograms) per day.


Nutrition, especially calcium, plays an important role in preventing osteoporosis. In people who have healthy bones, adequate calcium intake on a daily basis is necessary to maintain bone health. For older adults, studies have shown that adequate calcium intake can slow bone loss and lower the risk of fracture. Protein is another important nutrient for building and repairing body tissues, including bones.

For those who are lactose intolerant or who have a milk allergy, options such as calcium-fortified soy, almond and rice beverages, calcium-fortified orange juice and canned salmon or sardines are great calcium-rich alternatives. However, it is important to note that the calcium in soy beverage is absorbed at the rate of 75% of milk and to benefit from the calcium in canned salmon, the bones must be consumed.

Not all food sources that list calcium as a nutrient are absorbed by the body. The calcium in some foods, such as sesame seeds, rhubarb, swiss chard and spinach is not well absorbed because of their very high oxalate content, which binds the calcium. They have other nutrients, but are not a good source of calcium when calculating your daily intake.

Here is more information on calcium-rich foods

As you age, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet full of nutrients is a critical part of body and bone health. Certain foods and supplements can help you prevent osteoporosis, along with a plethora of other health benefits. Boosting your diet with vitamin-rich foods will help you look and feel your best.

Best Foods for Osteoporosis

Calcium, vitamin C and Vitamin D are integral to preventing osteoporosis. Eating foods rich in those vitamins and nutrients will promote bone health and reduce your risk for many other conditions as you age. The following are a few of the best foods for bone health.

Dairy Products

Healthy sources of calcium and fat are important for bone health. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are full of calcium. A few servings a day will boost your calcium intake.

Fruits & Vegetables

The produce aisle is packed with good-for-you nutrients. Some of the best fruits and vegetables for osteoporosis prevention include:

  • Leafy greens like kale, collard greens, spinach, and mustard greens
  • Figs
  • Broccoli
  • Oranges
  • Mushrooms

Prepare fruits and vegetables in a way that you enjoy, and eat a few servings a day to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to help keep your bones healthy and strong.

Lean Protein

Salmon and tuna are particularly high in vitamin D, which helps the body process calcium. Skinless chicken and other lean meats also provide a healthy dose of protein to support bone density and tissue growth.


Eggs are another great source of vitamin D. The egg yolks in particular are packed with vitamin D, but also contain cholesterol. Eat eggs in moderation with a variety of other vitamin D rich foods.

Many types of nuts are a good source of healthy fats, protein, and nutrients like calcium and magnesium. Some ideal nuts for osteoporosis prevention include almonds, sunflower seeds, or pistachios. Eat a handful each day as a snack to promote bone health.

Fortified Foods

Certain foods are fortified with extra nutrients. Some breakfast cereals, orange juice, breads, and more have added calcium or vitamin D to help consume extra nutrients. If you are lactose intolerant, or don’t like certain other nutrient-rich foods, fortified foods can be a good alternative.

What are other ways to prevent osteoporosis?

Your diet is not the only way to prevent osteoporosis and encourage strong bones. Certain supplements can increase your vitamin consumption and make sure you are getting the recommended daily amounts. Read more about the recommended supplements and how they can aid in osteoporosis prevention.

Osteoporosis has a strong genetic component, and even those with a robust bone health diet can still be susceptible to developing the condition. It is important to elect for bone density scans, also known as DEXA scans, to analyze your bone structure and watch for any decrease in density. Find out more about how DEXA scans work and how often you should receive them by reading our blog.

Turn to Heiden Orthopedics for Osteoporosis Prevention

Osteoporosis prevention is an important part of getting older, and a few simple dietary changes along with regular bone density scans can help you stay happy and healthy for years to come. Heiden Orthopedics is your resource for bone health, so consult with us today to get started with preventive care, bone density scans, or other treatments.

Calcium is often seen as the superhero of bone health. No disrespect to calcium, we certainly need it. But it is just one of the leading nutrients when it comes to having a healthy skeleton. You also need magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K to maximize the health of your bones.

So, to put it simply, you need to eat a lot more than milk and cheese to keep your bones healthy. Check out these six foods to ensure you’re keeping that whole structural support system of yours in its best shape.

1. Broccoli rabe

Dark leafy greens are a great vegan source of calcium. Broccoli rabe is a green that gets a calcium gold star — it even beats spinach (slightly) — and adding it to your grocery list is a surefire way to up the green veggie benefits of your diet.

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Blanch in boiling water and toss with a little olive oil before roasting. Or you could create a pesto for dipping or mixing with hummus. Watercress and bok choy are also great green options for getting in your calcium.

2. Cashews

These nuts are high in magnesium, a mineral that contributes to your bone health by stimulating your thyroid’s production of calcitonin. This hormone inhibits the activity of osteoclasts, the cells that function to break down bone.

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Chicken Cashew Slaw

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Cashews are the perfect “sweet” nut and a good grab-and-go snack, or you can try this cashew-carrot dipping sauce that can go on just about anything. Leafy greens, whole grains and legumes will also provide a healthy dose of magnesium.

3. Eggs

Egg yolks are high in vitamin D, better known as the “sunshine” vitamin. This nutrient is essential to your bone health because it affects how much calcium you’re able to absorb by stimulating the production of a calcium-binding protein.

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Make-Ahead Spinach and Artichoke Baked Egg Soufflés

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Eggs are easy to prepare and we all know they can be scrambled fast, but you can also have them at lunch, (and even dinner too!) with these deviled egg salad lettuce cups. Sick of eggs? Salmon is also high in vitamin D.

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4. Scallions

Vitamin K is well known for its role in blood clotting, but it also plays a role in working with vitamin D to absorb calcium. It even helps your body make the proteins it needs to create healthy bones. Just one scallion stalk chopped and sprinkled in your salad provides you with almost 40 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K. If that scallion flavor is not your thing, Brussels sprouts and kale will provide vitamin K, too.

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5. Canned salmon

Research shows that in addition to adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, protein plays a role in bone health, and therefore is helpful in the prevention of osteoporosis. Low protein intake is associated with an increased incidence of hip fractures.

Maya Visnyei

Salmon Rice Bowl

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Buy “bones in” canned salmon and you’ll up your calcium intake to boot. Just a 3-ounce serving of canned salmon provides you with 20 grams of protein and 25 percent of your daily calcium needs. Switch up your traditional tuna salad and add salmon to this chickpea and tuna salad recipe. Sardines are your protein and calcium friends, too, and so easy to top a cracker with for an afternoon snack

6. Almond milk

Because it is usually fortified with calcium, almond milk often has more than regular milk (1 cup = 450 milligrams, versus 311 milligrams for cow’s milk). Recommended daily intake for calcium is 1,000 milligrams for men and women ages 19-50, and increases to 1,200 milligrams for women ages 51-70.

RELATED: How to make dairy-free drinks at home

Almond milk is relatively low in calories for those watching their waistlines, and it’s a great option for people who might be sensitive to lactose. Use it to make oatmeal, or switch your afternoon coffee for a decadent (but healthy!) matcha latte. Tip: In an effort to avoid unwanted additives, choose carrageenan-free almond milk.

For more tips on how to live your most nutritious life, follow Keri on Instagram!

What You Can Do Now to Prevent Osteoporosis

Keep Bones Healthy Through Your Diet

Get the Right Amount of Calcium

When it comes to calcium, more is not always better. You should strive to hit the daily intake recommendation:

  • 1,000 mg for women 50 and younger
  • 1,200 mg for women 51 and older

With well-balanced nutrition, you may be able to get most of the necessary calcium from your diet and fill in the rest with supplements. As a matter of fact, you could be eating more calcium than you think!

Try calculating your daily intake by reading nutritional labels. Remember, these labels are based on a daily allowance of 1000 mg, so if the label says, “25% of daily calcium,” that means you’re getting 250 mg of calcium per serving, just add a zero.

Don’t Forget Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and use it to strengthen your bones. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, your liver and kidneys are responsible for making vitamin D. However, most of us can’t rely solely on the sun to get our daily dosage for many reasons: indoor living, sunscreen, skin tone, seasonal changes, etc. Non-fortified foods are also limited in vitamin D.

Your goal should be:

  • 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day if you are 70 or younger
  • 800 IU if you are 71 or older

Because many women don’t hit the recommended dosage of vitamin D through sun exposure and diet, supplements may be needed to meet this goal.

Protein Is Important for Bone Health, Too

Protein is in every cell in your body, including your bones. Studies have shown that eating protein increases bone mineral density. The recommended daily protein intake is 0.4 grams per pound of body weight. So, if you’re a 140-lb. woman, you need about 60 grams of protein per day. Protein can be found in animal or nonanimal food sources.

Food For Thought Quiz

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Food and Your Bones — Osteoporosis Nutrition Guidelines

The food that you eat can affect your bones. Learning about the foods that are rich in calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients that are important for your bone health and overall health will help you make healthier food choices every day. Use the chart below for examples of the different types of food you should be eating every day.

If you eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of dairy, fish, fruits and vegetables, you should get enough of the nutrients you need every day, but if you’re not getting the recommended amount from food alone, you may need to complement your diet by taking multivitamins or supplements.

Good-for-Your-Bones Foods

Food Nutrient
Dairy products such as low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese Calcium. Some dairy products are fortified with Vitamin D.
Canned sardines and salmon (with bones) Calcium
Fatty varieties such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines Vitamin D
Fruits and vegetables
Collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, mustard greens and broccoli. Calcium
Spinach, beet greens, okra, tomato products, artichokes, plantains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, collard greens and raisins. Magnesium
Tomato products, raisins, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, papaya, oranges, orange juice, bananas, plantains and prunes. Potassium
Red peppers, green peppers, oranges, grapefruits, broccoli, strawberries, brussels sprouts, papaya and pineapples. Vitamin C
Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens and brussel sprouts. Vitamin K
Fortified Foods
Calcium and vitamin D are sometimes added to certain brands of juices, breakfast foods, soy milk, rice milk, cereals, snacks and breads. Calcium, Vitamin D

Leafy greens and other nutrient-rich foods are good for your bones.

More Examples of Bone Healthy Food

Recent research has found that olive oil, soy beans, blueberries and foods rich in omega-3s, like fish oil and flaxseed oil may also have bone boosting benefits. While additional research is needed before the link between these foods and bone health can definitively be made, the many overall health benefits of these foods make them excellent choices to add to your diet. Studies have also shown that a moderate intake of certain alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages like wine, beer and tea may also be good for your bones. More research is also needed to better help us to better understand the relationship between these drinks and bone health.

More Tips for Eating for Good Bone Health

Beans (Legumes)

While beans contain calcium, magnesium, fiber and other nutrients, they are also high in substances called phytates. Phytates interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the calcium that is contained in beans. You can reduce the phytate level by soaking beans in water for several hours and then cooking them in fresh water.

Meat and Other High Protein Foods

It’s important to get enough, but not too much protein for bone health and overall health. Many older adults do not get enough protein in their diets and this may be harmful to bones. However, special high protein diets that contain multiple servings of meat and protein with each meal can also cause the body to lose calcium. You can make up for this loss by getting enough calcium for your body’s needs. For example dairy products, although high in protein, also contain calcium that is important for healthy bones.

Salty Foods

Eating foods that have a lot of salt (sodium) causes your body to lose calcium and can lead to bone loss. Try to limit the amount of processed foods, canned foods and salt added to the foods you eat each day. To learn if a food is high in sodium, look at the Nutrition Facts label. if it lists 20% or more for the % Daily Value, it is high in sodium. Aim to get no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.

Spinach and Other Foods with Oxalates

Your body doesn’t absorb calcium well from foods that are high in oxalates (oxalic acid) such as spinach. Other foods with oxalates are rhubarb, beet greens and certain beans. These foods contain other healthy nutrients, but they just shouldn’t be counted as sources of calcium.

Wheat Bran

Like beans, wheat bran contains high levels of phytates which can prevent your body from absorbing calcium. However, unlike beans 100% wheat bran is the only food that appears to reduce the absorption of calcium in other foods eaten at the same time. For example, when you have milk and 100% wheat bran cereal together, your body can absorb some, but not all, of the calcium from the milk. The wheat bran in other foods like breads is much less concentrated and not likely to have a noticeable impact on calcium absorption. If you take calcium supplements, you may want to take them two or more hours before or after eating 100% wheat bran.


Drinking heavily can lead to bone loss. Limit alcohol to no more than 2 – 3 drinks per day.


Coffee, tea and soft drinks (sodas) contain caffeine, which may decrease calcium absorption and contribute to bone loss. Choose these drinks in moderation.


Drinking more than three cups of coffee every day may interfere with calcium absorption and cause bone loss.

Soft Drinks

Some studies suggest that colas, but not other soft drinks, are associated with bone loss. While more research will help us to better understand the link between soft drinks and bone health, here is what we know:

  • The carbonation in soft drinks does not cause any harm to bone.
  • The caffeine and phosphorous commonly found in colas may contribute to bone loss.
  • Like calcium, phosphorous is a part of the bones. It is listed as an ingredient in colas, some other soft drinks and processed foods as “phosphate” or “phosphoric acid.”
  • Some experts say that Americans get too much phosphorous, while others believe that it is not a problem as long as people get enough calcium. The harm to bone may actually be caused when people choose soft drinks over milk and calcium-fortified beverages.
  • Luckily you can help make up for any calcium lost from these beverages by getting enough calcium to meet your body’s needs.

More Information

To learn more about other foods that may be good for your bones, visit, an online service of the US National Library of Medicine, to find research studies on nutrition and bone health.

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