We know a balanced diet incorporating many types of nutritious food is necessary for healthy bones.

Outside of the traditional vitamin D fortified milk and cheese, there are non-traditional foods with bone-strengthening power.

Whey Protein

A high concentration of conjugated linoleic fatty acids (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids put whey protein on the list as a super bone-building food. But whey’s secret weapon may be its lactoferrin. A small study published in Osteoporosis International suggested ribonuclease-enhanced lactoferrin may reduce bone resorption and increase osteoblastic bone formation. Whey protein is reported to prevent bone loss and promote bone growth.

Add whey protein to smoothies, cereal, or baked goods as an easy way to include this bone-booster in your diet.

Bananas and Plantains

Both bananas and plantains are great sources of the magnesium and potassium necessary for calcium absorption. Most people eat bananas straight from the peel. But, plantains, which are less sweet, must be cooked.

These fibrous fruits also boost intestinal health. A healthy digestive tract allows the body to readily absorb and use vitamins and minerals

If you’ve never cooked with plantains, don’t worry. Plantains are a popular and versatile ingredient found in many Latin recipes. This fruit lends its taste to sweet and savory dishes. They can be mashed, fried, baked, stuffed or used in soups or baked goods.

Next time you create your menu, add a bit of adventure and try a new dish made with plantains.

Dried Plums (Prunes)

According to clinical studies involving humans and animals, dried plums (known as prunes in Grandma’s day) show promise as a bone-building superfood. Though more study is needed, initial reports suggest dried plums enhance bone formation and decrease calcium resorption.

Researchers believe vitamin K sets dried plums apart from other fruits as a bone-builder. They are definitely worth consideration for the grocery carts of postmenopausal women who may be at risk for osteoporosis.

So how many dried plums should you eat? Several studies suggest six died plums may keep your osteoblasts active and your osteoclasts quiet.


Salmon has a reputation for being naturally high in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Both nutrients are important to support calcium absorption and overall health. But it’s the essential fatty acids that help salmon make this list.

According to a 1997 report in Progress in Lipid Research, omega-3 fatty acids allow the body to process vitamin D effectively, increase calcium absorption, and promote bone growth while minimizing the calcium excretion and reducing bone loss.

Fermented Foods

The inclusion of this food type may be a bit surprising, especially since not all fermented foods contain calcium. There’s another way fermented foods benefit bone health.

Yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut support the growth of good intestinal bacteria, which are necessary efficient digestion and the absorption of nutrients.

When your body is able to use the vitamins and minerals in food, your body … and your bones will be healthier.

In conclusion

Most people want strong and healthy bones that last a lifetime. They are key to staying active well into the eighth and ninth decades of life. Eating a variety of foods that support digestion, calcium absorption and prevent extraction while staying active can increase your odds of living a long and independent life.

If you’re being treated for a preexisting condition, make sure adding these types of foods does not interfere with your treatment or interact with your medications. Talk to your primary care provider or orthopedic specialist about specific guidelines for your condition.