When people hear about keeping their bones healthy, they immediately think about calcium. That’s great, but research has shown that a spectrum of nutrients is necessary to maintain bone health.
So what are the nutrients needed for bone health?
Vitamin D has gained a significant amount of attention for its role in increasing calcium absorption. And while calcium is the primary mineral found in bones, other minerals like magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and boron also play a crucial role in maintaining bone strength and integrity.
Recent studies are also bringing to light the importance of nutrients not previously associated with bone health. Certain B vitamins, for example, lower homocysteine levels, which may increase the risk of fractures in both men and women. And studies have found that vitamin K, a nutrient not found in most multivitamin supplements, may significantly improve bone mineral density.
Even phytonutrients, like the isoflavones found in soy, the polyphenols found in green tea and certain antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, have been found to have a beneficial impact on chemical reactions in the body that affect bone health.
One key thing to remember is that nutrients almost always work best in groups or families, as they are found in whole foods. And even though research and media attention has focused almost solely on calcium as the principle nutrient needed for bone health, in the end we will probably find that it takes the subtle interplay of a wide variety of nutrients to keep bones truly healthy and strong.