7 Nutrients Your Body Needs to Build Bone

7 Nutrients Your Body Needs to Build Bone

We all know that calcium plays a crucial role in building strong bones. But have you ever considered it might not be enough? 

Surprisingly, too much calcium, especially from supplements, can actually block the absorption of other nutrients. To keep your skeletal system in great condition, you need a whole team of vitamins and minerals working together. So, let’s shift the bone health conversation beyond just calcium alone. In this article, we’ll highlight the nutrients that go hand in hand with calcium and share how you can easily make them part of your daily routine.

Understanding Bone Health 

Around 10 million Americans (with women making up 80%) have osteoporosis, a condition where bones become weak and brittle. And if that’s not alarming enough, an additional 34 million people are estimated to have low bone mass, which puts them at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis later on. 

Most of us know the importance of bone health, but we tend to overlook it until there’s a problem. It’s natural to give more attention to other parts of our bodies, like our muscles, skin, and organs. But there’s a system that works behind the scenes—the skeletal system. It’s made up of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons, accounting for about 20% of your body weight. Think of it as the foundation, supporting your organs, enabling movement, and serving as a storage hub for essential minerals.

What are bones made of?

It’s easy to imagine your bones as dry, rigid structures– but they’re not. Two key components comprise bones: A mineral matrix packed with calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, silica, etc., and a non-mineral matrix primarily composed of protein (collagen). 

Minerals make our bones tough and dense, while the proteins step in and provide flexibility, preventing bones from becoming too soft and brittle. You need the right balance of both to maintain overall strength.

How they grow and change with age

Throughout life, bones undergo a constant process called “remodeling,” which involves the breakdown and rebuilding of bone tissue. Osteoclasts, specialized cells, break down old bone tissue in the resorption phase, while osteoblasts step in during the bone formation phase to create fresh bone tissue. As you approach adulthood, new bone is added faster than it’s removed. But as you reach 30, the balance shifts, leading to a gradual loss of bone mass over time.

7 Bone-Building Nutrients

By incorporating bone-building nutrients into your daily routine, you’re setting the stage for better bone and joint health for years to come.

 Let’s explore seven key players:

  • Vitamin D
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin K
  • Zinc
  • Omegas
  • Boron
  • Calcium


1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D maintains bone health by helping your body absorb and use calcium and phosphorus—two minerals essential for bone formation. 

  • Vitamin D makes it easier for your body to absorb calcium. It acts as a transporter, shuttling calcium from the intestines to the bloodstream and ensuring its delivery to the bones.
  • Low vitamin D levels throw off the delicate calcium balance in your body. When this happens, your body pulls calcium from your bones to compensate for the shortage. A deficiency leaves them vulnerable to fractures and increases the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Promotes the production of osteocalcin, a protein vital for bone formation and remodeling. This enables a healthy turnover rate and may prevent bone loss associated with aging.

To maintain optimal vitamin D levels, spend time outdoors during sunny hours, as sunlight triggers vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Aside from sunlight, there are also some tasty dietary sources that you can incorporate, such as wild-caught salmon, tuna, mackerel, egg yolks, and mushrooms. However, relying solely on your diet likely won’t give you enough vitamin D to meet your body’s needs. That’s where a high-quality vitamin D supplement comes into play to help bridge the gap.

2. Magnesium

Often overlooked, magnesium is a key mineral for bone health. Approximately 50-60% of the body’s magnesium is stored in our bones, making it the fourth most abundant mineral.

  • Magnesium supports the production of collagen, a critical component of the bone matrix that provides the structural framework for bones.
  • Maintains bone density by regulating the activity of osteoblasts, cells responsible for forming new bone cells. When there’s a deficiency, our bodies struggle to build and repair bone tissue, ultimately weakening bones.
  • Magnesium works hand in hand with calcium and vitamin D. It helps convert vitamin D into an active form, facilitating calcium absorption into the bones.
  • This mineral stimulates the production of the hormone calcitonin, which helps move calcium from the blood and into the bones. By doing so, it prevents buildup in soft tissues that can contribute to conditions like kidney stones and arterial plaque buildup.

To ensure an adequate magnesium intake, you can incorporate magnesium-rich foods, including spinach, nuts and seeds (such as almonds and pumpkin seeds), legumes, whole grains, avocados, and dark chocolate. Supplement with a liquid magnesium chloride formula to boost your levels further.

3. Vitamin K

Vitamin K belongs to a group of fat-soluble vitamins and comes in two primary forms: vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone). 

  • Involved in the production of osteocalcin, a protein responsible for binding calcium and other minerals to the bone matrix.
  • While vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium, vitamin K ensures that the absorbed calcium finds its way to the bones, where it belongs. 

To get your daily dose of vitamin K, include spinach, collard greens, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts in your diet. If you’re considering a supplement, opt for a vitamin D plus vitamin K2 complex to give your bones the needed support. 

*Remember that certain medications like blood thinners can interact with vitamin K. So, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider before adding new supplements.

4. Zinc

Zinc plays a vital role in activating our bone-building cells, the osteoblasts. Without enough, bones struggle to grow and repair properly.

  • Zinc works in harmony with calcium and magnesium. Together, they maintain the perfect balance between bone formation and bone breakdown.

Zinc is in a variety of nutritious foods, including oysters, legumes, nuts, seeds, spinach, beans, and whole grains. Remember, zinc from plant-based sources may not absorb as efficiently as from animal sources, so consider supplementation to ensure you’re getting enough.

5. Omega’s

Omega-3 fatty acids possess anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the risk of bone-related conditions. 

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), have been shown to improve calcium absorption in the body.
  • Studies show that those with higher intakes of omega-3s generally have better bone mineral density numbers and a reduced risk of fragility fractures. 

To get your daily dose, incorporate foods like fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts into your diet. If you’re thinking about supplements, choose a formula containing plant-based omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, DHA, and EPA.

6. Boron

Boron is a tiny yet mighty trace element, critical to magnesium absorption and bone tissue growth.

  • Boron stimulates the production of estrogen, a hormone that plays a role in maintaining bone density. By supporting estrogen levels, boron helps lower the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Extends the lifespan of vitamin D, keeping it active in your body for longer periods. This means that vitamin D can continue doing its job of absorbing calcium, with extra help from boron.

Foods such as nuts, apples, potatoes, beans, avocados, dried fruits, and legumes are excellent sources of boron. Adding a handful of almonds or a sprinkle of raisins to your daily snack routine can provide a natural boost. For best results, add a multi-mineral supplement to your routine. The formulation of these supplements includes other minerals that work synergistically with boron, enhancing its absorption by the body. 

7. Calcium

Last, but not least. Calcium allows for the constant building and renewal of bone tissue and lays the foundation for healthy bones as we reach adulthood. But calcium still matters even if you’re past your teenage years. While bone growth slows, it remains just as crucial in preventing bone loss, which becomes more common as we age.

  • Bones act as calcium storage units, regulating levels in the body with signals from parathyroid glands and vitamin D metabolites.
  • Calcium deficiency triggers the body to extract calcium from your bones to fulfill other critical functions. As a result, bone density decreases, and the risk of fractures increases. 

Leafy greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, almonds, chickpeas, chia seeds, and yogurt are excellent sources of this essential mineral. 

However, be careful not to overdo it. Too much calcium, especially from supplements, can impact the absorption of other important minerals. Many women unknowingly consume excessive amounts of calcium (we’re talking 1000-1200 mg per day), which can lead to calcification. Instead, aim for a reasonable 600 mg daily. By including other bone-building nutrients in your routine alongside calcium, you can avoid issues down the line.

Frequently Asked Questions: FAQs

We’ve got the answers to some common questions about bone health.

Can you rebuild bone density?
Our bodies possess an amazing ability to regenerate and remodel bone tissue. With the right combination of exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle choices, you can stimulate bone growth, increase mineral density, and restore strength.

Can you reverse osteoporosis?
The short answer is both encouraging and challenging. While you can’t entirely reverse osteoporosis, you can slow down its progression. A balanced diet and supplementation with bone-building nutrients can make a world of difference. Remember, prevention is key!

Preventing Bone Loss

Taking care of our bones is a lifelong journey. 

With all the roles nutrients play, it’s no wonder that even a mild deficiency can be a risk factor. Beyond calcium– several vitamins and minerals support bone strength, density, and flexibility. So, understanding the significance and role of these nutrients can pave the way for stronger bones and overall well-being.