Osteoporosis Diet

What is Osteoporosis?

osteoporosis-dietOsteoporosis (‘porous bones’) is a disease causing bones to become fragile and more likely to break. Without prevention or treatment, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks or fractures.

Any bones can be affected, but fractures occur typically in the hip and spine (these are of special concern), and the wrist.

A hip fracture impairs a person’s ability to walk without assistance, and without appropriate treatment results in long-term or permanent disability, even death. Hip fractures almost certainly require hospitalization for major surgery, while spinal or vertebral fractures are likely to cause intense back pain, loss of height, and deformity.

Why do the bones become vulnerable?

Skeletal bones have a thick outer shell, and a strong inner mesh of collagen (protein), calcium salts and other minerals. The interior has a honeycomb-like appearance, the spaces within the bone holding blood vessels and bone marrow.

Bone is alive, and it changes constantly. Up to age 30, bones increase in density. During a person’s lifetime bone is continually renewed in a process called ‘bone turnover’ as old, worn out bone is lost (broken down by cells called osteoclasts) and replaced (by bone building cells called osteoblasts).

After age 30, regular exercise and correct diet will help to maintain bone mass. However, over time, especially as the population lives longer, cumulative bone loss causes the holes between bone to enlarge, making the bones more ‘porous’ and therefore fragile – hence ‘osteoporosis’. There are other causative factors as well (see below). This Osteoporosis usually affects the whole skeleton, although the most vulnerable bones are the weight- and impact-bearing hip and spine (and to a lesser degree the wrist).

Who is at risk?

Statistically, women are four times as likely to develop Osteoporosis than men in America, where millions of aging adults are at risk. In Britain, where it is estimated that 3 million people suffer from Osteoporosis, 1 of every 2 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer a fracture after the age of 50 – there are a quarter of a million fractures each year (one every 3 minutes!), half being spinal fractures, almost a fourth hip fractures, and a fifth wrist fractures.

Apart from the cumulative bone-loss problem, other factors increasing the risk of developing Osteoporosis are:

Women Men
  • a lack of oestrogen due to early menopause (before age 45)
  • early hysterectomy (before age 45), particularly with removal of both ovaries (oophorectomy)
  • missing periods for six months or more (excluding pregnancy) due to excessive exercise or dieting
  • low levels of the male hormone, testosterone (hypogonadism)
Men and Women
  • long-term use of corticosteroid tablets in high doseage (such as for arthritis and asthma)
  • history of osteoporosis in immediate family (mother or father), particularly of hip fracture in mother
  • other medical conditions (Cushing’s syndrome, liver and thyroid problems)
  • malabsorption problems (coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, gastric surgery)
  • long-term immobility, heavy drinking of alcohol, smoking

What can be done to prevent or delay the onset of Osteoporosis?

Although there are treatments for osteoporosis once the ailment has developed (eg, healthy habits and the taking of calcium supplements can slow the process), there is currently no cure.

A healthy lifestyle maintained from before age 30 is the best defense against the onset of osteoporosis. It has been shown that exercising while still a teenager increases bone mass, greatly reducing the risk of osteoporosis in adulthood. So in your healthy lifestyle you should:

  • Ensure you eat a balanced diet and indulge in outdoor exercise/recreation which provides the recommended daily levels of calcium (1000 to 1200 mg; probably the lesser amount for a woman on Hormone Replacement Therapy) and vitamin D (400 to 800 IU or International Units). See notes below on calcium and vitamins.
  • Perform regular weight-bearing exercise
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
  • Eat a Healthy Diet Containing a lot of green leafy vegetables

Also be informed about bone health issues, undertake bone density tests as you grow older, and take medication when appropriate.

Calcium is a mineral fundamental to good bone structure. The mineral salts of bone are estimated to contain 99% of the calcium in the body; also 85% of the phosphorus and 40 – 60% of the sodium and magnesium. Calcium is present in many foods as natural compounds; calcium-fortified foods and calcium supplements can be used also. Calcium absorption requires other vitamins and minerals to be present in the diet, specifically magnesium, Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Calcium retention needs Vitamin B6 and Vitamin K.

Vitamin D is available normally in a balanced diet (such as egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver and fortified dairy products) and is produced by absorption of sunlight through the skin.

Vitamin C is required in sufficient amounts for Collagen production.

Osteoporosis Diet

The best source of all the nutrients you need is in a sensible balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, beans, yogurt, bread and potatoes, plus smaller amounts of very lean meat, low-fat cheese and oily fish (especially sardines), plus at least 1/2 a pint or about 250ml of low-fat milk per day.

Best calcium sources are dairy products (milk, cheese and yogurt), green leafy vegetables, baked beans, bony fish and dried fruit. Reduce consumption of red meat, chocolate and caffeine, and be aware that excessive Vitamin A intake as retinol (in fish and dairy products) may be a factor in increased risk of broken bones (not yet proven), however Vitamin A as carotene in vegetables is not a problem.

Take regular exercise, outdoors preferrably, (such as running, skipping, aerobics, tennis, or brisk walking), at least three times a week for at least 20 minutes.

Osteoporosis Diet Plan

Day 1 Day 2
1 cup oatmeal
0.5 cup or 120ml fat-free milk
5 dried, chopped apricots
1 tbsp chopped nuts
0.5 cup or 120ml orange juice (calcium-fortified)

Method: Top cooked oatmeal with apricots and nuts.


1 sesame bagel

2 tbsp fat-reduced cream cheese

0.5 cup grapes

0.5 cup or 120ml orange juice (calcium-fortified)

0.5 cup fat-reduced cottage cheese
0.25 cup orange segments
0.25 cup grapes
1 tbsp sesame seeds
4 cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cups mixed salad leaves
3 Ryvita biscuits

Method: Mix the cheese, orange and grapes together, place on top of salad leaves in a bowl, and sprinkle with the seeds. Serve with the tomatoes and Ryvita.


1 cup lentil soup

6″ or 15cm French bread

0.5 cup fat-free yogurt

1 apple

4 oz or about 115 gm skinless, boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp oil
0.5 cup tomato sauce
0.5 cup broccoli florets
1 cup spinach
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 oz or about 30 gm (dry weight) pasta

Method: Cook garlic for 2 minutes in the oil heated in a non-stick skillet. Add and stir-fry the chicken for 2-3 minutes, then add the tomato sauce and broccoli, and cook for 5 minutes. Serve over cooked pasta, topped with Parmesan, and with spinach.


4 oz or about 115 gm canned sardines, drained

2 cups mixed salad leaves

1 tbsp fat-free dressing

1 large sliced tomato

8 oz or about 230 gm baked potato

1 tbsp shredded cheese
Method: Top the split baked potato with cheese, and serve with sardines and mixed, dressed salad.

Snacks:Choose from –

  • Small handful pumpkin seeds, soy nuts or other nuts
  • Apple
  • Dried figs (2) or apricots (4)

A Comprehensive Video Guide to Osteoporosis

The National Osteoporosis Foundation

NIH Osteoporosis and Bone Disease Resource Center

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
  • Rachner, T. D., Khosla, S., & Hofbauer, L. C. (2011). Osteoporosis: now and the future. The Lancet, 377(9773), 1276-1287. link
  • Christianson, M. S., & Shen, W. (2013). Osteoporosis prevention and management: nonpharmacologic and lifestyle options. Clinical obstetrics and gynecology, 56(4), 703-710. link
  • Zeng, F. F., Fan, F., Xue, W. Q., Xie, H. L., Wu, B. H., Tu, S. L., … & Chen, Y. M. (2013). The association of red meat, poultry, and egg consumption with risk of hip fractures in elderly Chinese: A case–control study. Bone, 56(2), 242-248. link

5 Comments or Reviews

Comments now closed
  1. Karlyne E. Cooper

    Please advise what foods NOT to eat with Osteoporosis.

  2. farooq

    very informative

  3. sonson

    great information … i am going to try it …

  4. Brookeee/

    greatGREAT website!
    cheers (:

  5. Enedelia Amos

    Great! menu Im going to try it.

Last Reviewed: March 23, 2023