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12 Foods to Boost Bone Health

Getting the calcium and vitamin D you need is easier than you think -- if you eat the right foods.

Breakfasts for Strong Bones continued...

Some cereals, for instance, can give you half of the calcium you need all day. Have a cup of fortified cereal with milk and a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice, and you may satisfy your calcium needs before lunch.

Breakfast Foods

Average Calcium (mg)

Cereal, calcium-fortified, 1 cup

100 - 1000

Soy milk, calcium-fortified, 8 ounces

80 - 500

Milk (nonfat, 2%, whole, or lactose-reduced), 1 cup


Yogurt, 1 cup

300 - 400

Orange juice, calcium-fortified

200 - 340

Even if you're lactose-intolerant and don't digest milk well, you can find plenty of dairy products these days that are lactose-reduced or lactose-free. Just check the labels on milk, cheese, and yogurt, and try the health-food store if larger supermarkets don't carry enough choices.

Suppers for Strong Bones

If cereal's not your thing -- or you'd rather spread your calcium across the day for better absorption -- try adding a few calcium-rich foods to your dinner or lunch. Make an omelet with a bit of cheddar cheese, sautéed greens, and salmon. Or whip up a scrambled-egg stir-fry by adding Swiss cheese, broccoli, and sardines to your eggs, and you've got a lunch for strong bones. If you like soups and stews, try adding salmon, kale, or turnip greens to your other favorite recipes.

Just as your bones store calcium, fish bones do, too. Those tiny bones in canned fish like sardines and salmon hold high levels of calcium, so be sure to eat those, too.

Lunch, Dinner, and Snack Foods

Average Calcium (mg)

Canned sardines, 3 ounces


Swiss cheese, 1 ounce


Cheddar cheese, 1 ounce


Canned salmon, 3 ounces


Turnip greens, 1 cup


Kale cooked, 1 cup


Broccoli, raw, 1 cup


How to Find Calcium-Rich Foods

Try this trick to help you decipher the food labels and "Nutrition Facts" you now see on packaged foods.

The calcium amounts you'll see listed are percentages, based on the standard of 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. So to figure out how much calcium you're actually getting in each serving, it's easy. Just add a zero to the percentage of calcium you see on the label to convert it to actual milligrams (mg). So, for example, if a cereal box says "Calcium: 50%," then that cereal has 500 milligrams of calcium in each serving.

Next Article:

Osteoporosis Glossary

  • Bone Mineral Density - A measurement of the amount of calcium and minerals in bone tissue.
  • Calcium - A mineral in (and vital to) your bones. If your body lacks calcium, it takes it from bones.
  • DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) - a test used to measure bone mineral density.
  • Osteoporosis - A decrease in bone density, which increase the risk of fractures.
  • Vitamin D - A vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium.
  • View All Terms

How do you exercise for strong bones?