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Nutrition for healthy bones and joints

How do you maintain strong, healthy bones?

Our bones are mostly made of calcium and are constantly undergoing a process of remodeling - our bones are continuously broken down and then rebuilt into new bones.  In order to keep your bones strong, you need to be physically active. Osteoporosis can occur with reduced bone formation as we age - sedentary behaviour is a key risk factor.  Arthritis can also develop through repetitive use and/or inflammation of the joints. But the good news is that maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle can delay the onset of these conditions and prevent other chronic diseases.

A healthy diet can help supply the nutrients needed for healthy bones, physical activity (especially weight bearing exercise) helps maintain healthy bone-formation activity and processes, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce pressure on painful joints.

Here’s a few tips to consider:

  • Eat calcium rich foods. The richest sources of calcium are dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), fortified beverages (soy, rice, almond) and canned salmon/sardines. Dark leafy greens and legumes provide some calcium. 
  • Follow the "plate method" for balanced nutrients and portion control to manage body weight.
  • Eat antioxidant-rich foods to reduce inflammation.
  • Physical activity. Engage in regular physical activities that incorporate a combinations of cardio and strength training (weight bearing exercise) to improve and maintain bone health. 
  • Consider having a Bone Mineral Density test. If you are 65 years or older, or are at high risk of bone fractures, speak to your doctor about the BMD test to know your risk.
  • Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption. Excess alcohol and smoking can increase bone loss and increase risk of fractures. Quit smoking and limit alcohol. 



Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements

Bone Health

Joint Health


Vitamin D: 1000 IU (D3)

Calcium: 1200mg elemental calcium from foods and supplement if >50 years

Magnesium: 300-400mg elemental magnesium


Vitamin D: 1000 IU (D3)

Calcium: 1200mg elemental calcium from foods and supplement if >50 years

Fish oil*: 3-4g daily

Turmeric*: 500mg twice daily

Glucosamine sulfate*:1500mg once daily

Chondroitin sulfate*: 800mg once daily

SAMe*:200mg three times daily


*Supplements may reduce pain and improve function in some arthritis subtypes. Individual results vary. Avoid if pregnant or lactating.



Wondering if you are getting enough calcium from foods? Use the following calculator to determine your intake.


Your number of servings

Calcium/ serving

Your calcium

1 cup black beans, lima beans and/or lentils (cooked)

2 eggs

2 slices bread

¾ cup broccoli

½ cup gai lan or mustard greens




X 50 mg


1 cup chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans (cooked)

¼ cup almonds

½ cup bok choy, kale, rapini, okra

½ cup ice cream, frozen yogurt

1 Tbsp (15ml) parmesan cheese




X 75 mg


1 cup baked beans, soybeans, white beans (cooked)

100g tofu (made with calcium)

½ cup collards (cooked)

25g (1oz) soft cheese (blue, feta, mozzarella)





X 150 mg


25g (1oz) cheese (cheddar, swiss, gouda, paneer)
2 slices cheese (processed)

⅓ can salmon with bones

½ can sardines with bones

¾ cup (175ml) yogurt, plain/flavored




X 200 mg


1 cup (250ml) skim, 1%, 2%, whole milk, buttermilk

1 cup (250ml) calcium-fortified beverages (ie. almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk)




X 300 mg






How do you compare to the recommendation?

Recommended calcium intake per day (mg)

19-50 years

51-70 years

71+ years





Questions? Ask the author PuiChi.Cheng@medisys.ca 

Concerned about your health? Inquire about or book a Medisys preventive health assessment today!