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Eating to Prevent Osteoporosis

Good eating habits are directly related to the prevention of osteoporosis in both men and women. It is often thought that only women suffer from this disease, but this is not true. While women are more prone to develop osteoporosis, men also suffer from this preventable disease.

Osteoporosis causes bones to lose mass and density. As the bones become porous and brittle, the chance of fracture is greatly increased. To lessen the risk of osteoporosis, try to get at least 1,000 mg (adults ages 19-50) to 1,200 mg (adults over 51) of calcium each day. Use the SparkPeople nutrition tracker to analyze your average intake.

If you're not meeting your needs, include additional milk and dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, or pudding. Don’t forget foods made with milk such as cheese pizza, lasagna, and yogurt shakes. Other foods that are good sources of calcium include calcium-set tofu, canned salmon and sardines with the bones, calcium fortified juice, and broccoli.

Calcium is what strengthens our bones and protects the internal organs. When there is a loss of calcium, we lose strength, and bones become brittle and break more easily. Some simple variations to improve your diet are as follows:
  • For breakfast, use milk instead of water with your cereal and oatmeal. Drink plenty of calcium-fortified orange juice.
  • For lunch, eat yogurt as your dessert, choose milk instead of soda and add cheese to your sandwich.
  • For dinner, prepare canned tomato soup and macaroni and cheese with milk. Have pudding made with milk or frozen yogurt for dessert.
Here is a list of examples of the proper foods you should integrate into your diet to help ward off osteoporosis and become healthier:
  • Whole grains – brown rice, oats, corn, barley, buckwheat, wheat, rye
  • Vegetables – broccoli, carrots, spinach, lettuce, onions, celery, string beans, artichoke, summer squash, endive, cucumbers, asparagus, peppers, parsley, sprouts, and tomatoes
  • Beans – split peas, lentils, kidney beans, navy beans, chickpeas, black beans, white beans, soy beans, and tofu
  • Nuts and seeds – sunflower, sesame or pumpkin seeds
  • Water – 8 glasses a day
Lastly, if you really don't like dairy products or they don't like you, then try some of these tips to increase the amount of calcium in your diet without upsetting your stomach:
  • Use milk in preparing hot chocolate, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, and soups.
  • Make a fruit smoothie using yogurt and frozen fruit for a light refreshing meal or snack.
  • Use nonfat plain yogurt to replace part or all of the sour cream, mayonnaise or cream cheese in recipes.
  • Use canned salmon, instead of tuna for sandwiches and casseroles.
  • Serve a stir-fry packed with calcium-rich foods like broccoli, bok choy and tofu.
  • Make a sandwich spread from calcium-fortified cottage cheese and chopped veggies.
  • Mix part-skim ricotta cheese with cinnamon and raisins to spread on bagels or English muffins.
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Member Comments

I was just diagnosed with osteoporosis, beginning in my hips and intermediate in my spine. I have always eaten cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. I eat broccoli, spinach and almonds almost daily. I exercise 6 days a week. I also take levothyroxine for hypothyroid. My doctor said osteoporosis is common in hypothyroid men and women— but she didn’t say that the medication caused it. Report
I am in my 70s and to this day even thinking about milk (any kind- whole, skim, etc.) makes me gag. When I was in fifth and sixth grade my teacher made us line up and show her our lunch trays when we were done eating. She would not dismiss us until every bite was eaten and all the milk in the carton was drunk. Milk gives me stomach cramps and my entire afternoon in school was a horror. I bet if they treated convicts in jail like this they would never want to risk going back to jail once released! Some days I would go to the restroom as soon as I was dismissed and throw up, hoping no one would come in because it would be so humiliating. Horrible memories. Report
Even though I have been strength training for over 10 yrs and eat healthy, I am told my bones are weakening. I'm pumping it up, hopefully without a lot of dairy and eating more leafy greens and broccoli everyday. I hope that works! Report
Alternative “milk” products are also good sources of calcium. An 8 ounce glass of almond milk, unseeetened, original, delivers 45% of the daily calcium requirement, only 30 calories and it tastes great. A win-win-win! Report
Good to know. Report
Interesting. Thanks. Report
Thank you Report
I love using salmon in place of tuna. it tastes better to me (milder flavor) and it has more omega 3 and calcium! Report
Thank you! Report
Just found out that I have fractures on my spine!!! I have been complaining about lower back pain for years and no one was ever concerned about osteoporosis! I see a doctor at least 4 times a year. SparkPeople saved me! Using nutrition tracker showed dietary deficiencies. Brought those to the attention of my new doctor and I now finally know what's going on!! Stay healthy folks and fix those nutritional deficits! Report
Too much controversy for me. I drink two glasses of skim milk every day along with other sources of calcium including leaving the bones in tuna & salmon and eating lots of greens. Do what is right fr you. Report
got several ideas from the article. thanks Report
I've been reading up on osteoporosis foods and calcium supplements and this article lacks a whole lot of up to date information. I agree with some of the comments below, we should look for more thorough info. Report
Thanks for the info. Report
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