What to Eat for Stronger Bones

And why men should bother in the first place.

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Bones may look hard and unchangeable, but like any part of our bodies, they’re constantly breaking down and remodeling themselves. That’s good news for us. Because by eating and exercising the right way we can strengthen our bones and keep them healthy a whole lot longer. Find out how.


First, the bad news.

Did you know that by the time you hit the big 3-0, your bones have stopped growing? And after the age of forty, most people in the U.S. lose about 0.5% of bone mass each year.

Chronic bone loss leads to low bone mineral density and osteoporosis.

Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke, and some forms of cancer combined. At least one in five men will fracture a bone during his lifetime.

In fact, while osteoporosis is often considered a disease of elderly women, 30% of hip fractures occur in men, and men are much more likely to die after a fracture than women.  

It’s that serious.

Now, the good news.

You can help arrest this process.

Bones may look hard and unchangeable, but like any part of our bodies, they’re constantly breaking down and remodeling themselves.

And by eating and exercising well, you can help prevent osteoporosis and depend on your bones for a lifetime.

Building better bones

You’ve probably guessed that vitamins and minerals are crucial to bone health. In particular, calcium, vitamin D, and protein are big players, but other vitamins and minerals also play an important role.

So, what should you eat—and what should you avoid—for better bones? Here’s the lowdown.  (And if you’d like to know the “whys,” check out this in-depth article).


Adult men need about 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day. And dairy foods like milk, yoghurt, and cheese are rich in calcium. Including some in your diet can help ensure you meet your calcium needs.

Vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts/seeds

Vegetables in the cabbage family are especially high in easy-to-absorb calcium. This group includes:

  • Chinese cabbage

  • Bok choy

  • Kale

  • Mustard greens

  • Broccoli.

But calcium isn’t the only benefit of a diet high in veggies.

Fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are also rich in vitamins and flavonoids. And getting these nutrients from whole foods is much better for us than trying to supplement. So be sure to eat some every day.

Lean protein  

Protein makes up 20-30% of bone mass. That’s why it’s important to eat enough meat or non-meat sources of lean protein, like chicken, eggs, fish, and beans.  Heck, why not throw in a smoothie now and again, too!


Too much caffeine can hurt our bones. But up to two cups of coffee a day shouldn’t pose risks to someone eating a well-balanced diet.

Mineral waters

Mineral water might be good for bone health, especially if the type you like to drink includes calcium or magnesium. Check out the percentages on the label.


Believe it or not, beer contains ingredients that might protect bones! Alcohol also has a slight estrogenic effect, which could be bone protective.

But before you order another round, drinking more than one or two alcoholic drinks per day appears to be a problem for bone health.

(And you can pretty much imagine what’ll happen if you try to claim Bud Light as a “bone-building medication” on your health insurance. Good luck with that.)

Best bets for bones

Bones are complicated. But ultimately, it’s not hard to take care of them. All you need to do is:

  • Eat a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods

  • Keep your weight stable without dieting

  • Perform regular weight bearing exercise.

Lift weights. Jump. Run. Walk. Carry things.  And do it often.

Because when you feed your bones well and test them regularly, they “understand” that you need them. And they’ll reward you by keeping you upright a whole lot longer.


Looking for the best eating, exercise, and lifestyle advice for you? Download this free guide: Fitness for men: The busy man's guide to getting in shape and living better.


And for more about Dr. John Berardi, including links to his latest men's health articles, click here.

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