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To maintain healthy and strong bones, you need a good balance of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and Vitamin D. Vitamins and nutrition prevent osteoporosis and help you build strong and healthy bones. The biggest question is what you should consume as a diet to not only prevent osteoporosis, but if you already have it, to work to strengthen your bones.


Dairy provides the best source of dietary calcium. One cup of lowfat milk contains 300 mg of calcium. A cup of plain yogurt has 400 mg of calcium while the fruit flavored has 300 mg. Cottage cheese has 150 mg/cup. An ounce of most cheeses has 200 mg of calcium. Canned salmon or sardines with bones has about 300-350 mg of calcium per cup.

Not many vegetables have much over 50 mg of calcium per serving, but collard greens, kale, and bok choy have about 250 mg of calcium per cup. Broccoli, dandelion greens, and okra have about 100 mg per serving. Take note though, of vegetables high in oxalic or phytic acid and ingesting wheat bran with calcium supplements, as they may interfere with calcium absorption.

The following chart documents optimum calcium requirements:

Age Group Optimal Daily Intake (mg of Calcium)
Birth-6 mos 400
6 mos-1 yr 600
1-5 yrs 800
6-10 yrs 800-1200
11-24 yrs 1200-1500
25-65 yrs 1000
Over 65 yrs 1500
25-50 yrs 1000
Over 50 yrs postmenopausal  
On Estrogens 1000
Not on Estrogens 1500
Over 65 yrs 1500
Pregnant and/or nursing 1200-1500



Magnesum is an essential element in all cells. Its presence in green leafy vegetables make dairy products (cows eat vegetables) a reliable source of magnesium. In an average American diet, 200-700 mg of magnesium is ingested. The recommended daily amounts for magnesium are 350-420 mg per day for adult males, and 280-320 mg per day for adult females.

Magnesium is absorbed through the digestive tract, so no supplementation is needed unless there are chronic diarrheal disorders or disorders that result in an extensive loss of magnesium (diabetes, hyperparathyroidism, chronic diuretic use, or extensive burns). Magnesium supplementation should be used with caution in patients with impaired renal function.


Phosphorus, like calcium is available in dairy products and grains, but is also available in meats, baked goods, and carbonated beverages. 600 mg of phosphorus is present in an adult human, 85% of which is in the skeleton. It plays a key role in a variety of metabolic processes, particularly relating to cellular energy generation and transfer.

Phosphorus is essential to normal bone mineralization and varies widely in levels in the blood during the course of the day, depending on age, gender, diet, blood pH, and hormonal activity.

Vitamin D

This is a critical vitamin for bone mineralization. Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” Vitamin D can be obtained by casual exposure of the face, arms and hands in amounts of 200 IU. The recommended dosage of Vitamin D for those 19-50 years old is 400 IU daily, and for those older than 50, 600 IU is recommended.

Vitamin D has been shown to play a role in muscle strength, particularly in the elderly. This can have significant consequences in terms of function and predisposition to falling, and the impact of falling on the fracture risk of osteoporotic bones.