Nutrition For Strong Bones During Winter

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
12/16/11  9:51 PM PST

Did you know that more bone loss occurs during the winter months than any other time of year? Strengthen your skeleton and prevent fractures by consuming foods with bone-friendly nutrients.


Shoot for at least 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Getting enough of this mineral in your diet prevents your body from stealing it from your bones.

Foods that contain approximately 300 mg calcium per serving:

• 1 cup milk or yogurt

• 1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice

• ½ cup calcium-treated tofu

• 3 oz canned sardines with bones

• 1 cup cooked collard greens

Vitamin D

Almost half of Americans are low in the sunshine vitamin, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Five to thirty minutes a day in the sun can help, but sunscreen, time of day, season and even smog can affect this process. Increase your levels by consuming vitamin D-rich foods such as fortified milk, eggs and salmon and by taking supplements containing vitamin D and calcium. The current adult recommendation for vitamin D is 400 IU daily, although research suggests that more is needed to maintain normal blood levels.

Vitamin K

Eat your green leafy vegetables to get enough of this vitamin, which plays a critical role in bone mineralization.A cup of raw spinach packs 145 micrograms, or 120 percent of the daily adequate intake for men. Vegetables and fruits also contain magnesium, potassium and vitamin C to boost bones.


They’re not just fuel for the good bacteria in your colon. These fermentable fibers enhance the absorption of bone-building minerals like calcium and magnesium. Main food sources of prebiotics include wheat, onions, leeks, garlic, artichokes and bananas. In packaged foods, look for inulin, chicory root fiber and fructooligosaccharides or FOS, on the label.


The American Dietetic Association advises 5 to 6 oz of lean meat or beans each day, to provide the protein your bones need. The recommended dietary allowance for protein is 56 grams daily for men and 46 grams per day for women. Don’t overdo it, though. The National Osteoporosis Foundation cautions that some high protein diets may deplete your body of calcium if you don’t get enough of the mineral in your diet.

1. Linus Pauling Institute Spring/Summer 2005 Research Report,
2. American Dietetic Association Nutrition Care Manual: Osteoporosis Nutrition Therapy
3. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Vitamin D for Good Bone Health, 4. American Dietetic Association Nutrition Care Manual: Foods High in Vitamin K
5. Coxam, V. Current Data with Inulin-Type Fructans and Calcium, Targeting Bone Health in Adults. The Journal of Nutrition. 2007;137: 2527S–2533S.
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