Nutrition for Bone Health: Calcium & Beyond

a side-by-side rendering of bones with good and poor density

Bones are quite literally our most important support system. Not only do they give our bodies the structure upon which every other part depends, they also serve as a storehouse for minerals used in everyday processes, including controlling the beating of the heart! Our bones deserve—and need—much more than a daily calcium supplement or glass of milk.

Bone health relies on many inter-related nutrients, particularly vitamins A, C, D, and K, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Many of these nutrients regulate the absorption or action of others. For example, vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium absorbed in the intestines. You can drink a cow’s worth of milk, but without adequate vitamin D, much of that calcium will pass right on through you.

Even more concerning is that excessive calcium in the diet or through supplements can lead to serious health problems. Calcium is involved in many more processes in the body than just bone mineralization. Getting too much can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, chest pain, stomach bleeding, kidney dysfunction, calcium deposits throughout soft tissues in the body, and magnesium deficiency.

For many healthy individuals, obtaining adequate nutrition for bone health from the diet is not only possible, but also delicious. This salmon salad is nutrient dense and super simple to make. Carrots provide vitamin A for bone growth and remodeling, and parsley packs a punch with vitamin A, vitamin C for collagen formation, and vitamin K for bone protein production. Choose canned salmon that contains bones: the canning process softens bones so they are completely edible and full of minerals.
salmon salad

Bone-Building Salmon Salad
Original Recipe

1 7.5-ounce can of wild sockeye salmon, bone and skin included, drained, flaked with fork
1 carrot, shredded
1 scallion, minced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
juice of half a lemon (1–2 tablespoons, or to taste)
drizzle of olive oil
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Stir ingredients together thoroughly. Adjust seasonings, and add more olive oil if necessary to moisten. Serve spread on toast, scooped atop salad, tossed with pasta, stuffed into celery, or dipped into with cucumber slices.

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