Health Advice



Nutrition to support bone health

By Sharon Lehrman, M.P.H., R.D.N., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter on

Published in Health & Fitness

Vitamin D

Vitamin D works hand in hand with calcium in maintaining bone health. The daily target for vitamin D is 600 IU for adults 19-70 years and 800 IU over age 70. It is found in foods fortified with vitamin D such as dairy products, orange juice, soy milk and cereals, as well as fatty fish, beef liver and egg yolks. But our main source comes from production in the skin in response to sun exposure in the summertime. This may be problematic for people who have little or no sun exposure or who live in wintery climates for a long period of the year.

Recent research published in JAMA Network Open indicates that “taking both calcium and vitamin D supplements could trim the number of people who sustain fractured hips.” After reviewing data from 17 studies of nearly 84,000 people, most in their upper 60s or older, investigators found that those taking calcium and vitamin D were about 16% less likely to break a hip and 6% less likely to break any bone. No protection was found for people taking just vitamin D.

Be sure to discuss your health concerns regarding the need for a vitamin D supplement with your health care provider.


Optimal protein intake is important for bone health. A good rule of thumb is a daily intake in grams that is roughly half your weight in pounds. For a woman who weighs 150 pounds, recommended intake would be 75 grams of protein.


Vitamin K

Vitamin K, found mainly in green and leafy vegetables, assists in calcium regulation and the formation of bone. Consuming one of more servings of vitamin K rich foods can cut the risk of fracture in half. So, make sure to include some spinach, kale, broccoli, collards, turnip greens, and dark green lettuces daily. If you are on a blood thinning medication like Coumadin, you can still consume these foods, you just need to be consistent in their intake day to day (discuss this with your health care provider).


Your intake of beverages can affect the absorption of calcium and lead to bone loss.

(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384.