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Bone Health

Wednesday 10 July, 2019

Adequate nutrition for healthy bones is essential, not only as we age, but earlier on in life, ensuring a strong foundation. Bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt, therefore having the nutrients required for building bones is vital. Insufficient nutrients can result in osteoporosis or bone weakness, increasing risk of fractures.

The main nutrient people associate with bone health is calcium, however, there are other nutrients such as vitamin D, phosphorus and protein, just to name a few, that also play a role in bone health and strength.

Even though we know how important calcium is for bone health, currently, over half of Australians aged 2 years and over are not meeting their calcium requirements. One of the major sources of calcium in Australian diets is dairy, however there are other sources of calcium if you are unable to consume dairy or need to boost your calcium intake.

It is recommended adults consume approximately 2 ½ -4 serves (depending on age and gender), of dairy or alternatives per day, one serve of dairy or equivalent is equal to:

  • 250mL milk (regular, skim, fortified plant-based milk with >100mg calcium/100mL)
  • 200g yoghurt
  • 40g (2 slices) of hard cheese
  • ½ cup of ricotta
  • 60g sardines
  • 100g tinned pink salmon
  • 100g of firm tofu
  • 100g of almonds with skin on

Adequate vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption and is therefore a key player in maintaining healthy bones. Vitamin D is largely sourced from the sun with recommendations varying for different locations around Australia but generally a few minutes of summer sun is sufficient.  Foods high in vitamin D include egg yolks and oily fish such as salmon and mackerel.

Phosphorus also plays a role with calcium in building bones, with 85% of our phosphorus being stored in our bones and teeth. Most Australians consume adequate phosphorus unless whole food groups are removed. Common sources of phosphorus include dairy, wholegrains, meat, beans and legumes.

A diet high in calcium and protein has been shown to assist with bone health. In older adults, consuming inadequate amounts of protein has been shown to negatively impact bone mineral density and bone strength. It is recommended adults consume 2-3 serves (depending on age and gender) of meat or alternatives daily, one serve is equivalent to:

  • 65g cooked lean red meat such as beef, lamb, veal or pork (90–100g raw weight)
  • 80g cooked lean poultry such as chicken or turkey (100g raw weight)
  • 100g cooked fish fillet (115g raw weight) or one small can of fish
  • 2 large eggs (120g)
  • 1 cup (150g) cooked or canned legumes/beans such as lentils, chickpeas, split peas or kidney beans (preferably with no added salt)
  • 170g tofu
  • 30g nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter or tahini or other nut or seed paste (no added salt)

Get in touch to learn more about nutrition for bone health or any other nutrition related information.

Fuel Your Life is a nation-wide Dietetic company focusing on Veteran health and nutrition. We have specific Veteran nutrition programs which are bulk-billed for Gold and White card holders and offer in clinic or home visits. Areas we can assist with include weight management, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease, sports nutrition, mental health and pain management.


Danielle Rodger

Accredited Practising Dietitian, Business Development Officer, Area Manager (Adelaide) Fuel Your Life

Ph: 0490 542 715


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