A Healing Diet After Bone Fracture

Medically Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on June 02, 2024
3 min read

After a fracture, your bone needs to rebuild. A healthy, well-balanced diet rich in key nutrients can help speed that up.

You don't need to take supplements unless your doctor recommends it. They don't always work well. It's much better to get the nutrition you need from your plate, not from a pill.

About half your bone's structure is made of this. When you have a fracture, your body needs it to build new bone for the repair. It also helps your body take in and use calcium, another key nutrient for healthy bones.

Good sources: Meat, fish, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, nuts, seeds, beans, soy products, and fortified cereals.

This mineral also helps you build strong bones, so foods and drinks rich in it can help your bone fracture heal. Adults should get between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day. Your doctor will tell you if you need a calcium supplement, and what amount you should take if you do.

Good sources: Milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, broccoli, turnip or collard greens, kale, bok choy, soy beans, canned tuna or salmon with bones, almond milk, and fortified cereals or juice.

This vitamin should be a part of your diet to help your fracture heal. It helps your blood take in and use calcium and build up the minerals in your bones.

You get some vitamin D when sunlight hits your skin, so it can be a good idea to spend a short amount of time outdoors each day -- 15 minutes may be enough for a fair-skinned person.

Vitamin D is found naturally in only a few foods like egg yolks and fatty fish, but manufacturers add it to other foods, like milk or orange juice. Adults should get at least 600 IU of vitamin D every day, and if you're over 70 you should get at least 800 IU.

Good sources: Swordfish, salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, liver, fortified milk or yogurt, egg yolks, and fortified orange juice.

Collagen is a protein that's an important building block for bone. Vitamin C helps your body make collagen, which helps your bone fracture heal. You can get it from many tasty, fresh fruits and veggies. Aged or heated produce can lose some of its vitamin C, so go for fresh or frozen.

Good sources: Citrus fruits like oranges, kiwi fruit, berries, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and green vegetables.

If you have iron-deficiency anemia -- when you don't have enough healthy red blood cells -- you may heal more slowly after a fracture. Iron helps your body make collagen to rebuild bone. It also plays a part in getting oxygen into your bones to help them heal.

Good sources: Red meat, dark-meat chicken or turkey, oily fish, eggs, dried fruits, leafy green veggies, whole-grain breads, and fortified cereals.

Get enough of this mineral in your diet, and you won't lose as much calcium when you pee. There are lots of fresh fruits rich in potassium.

Good sources: Bananas, orange juice, potatoes, nuts, seeds, fish, meat, and milk.

It's a good idea to cut back on or skip these:

Alcohol: While you don't have to cut out alcoholic drinks, these beverages slow down bone healing. You won't build new bone as fast to fix the fracture. A bit too much alcohol can also make you unsteady on your feet, which can make you more likely to fall and risk an injury to the same bone.

Salt: Too much of this in your diet can make you lose more calcium in your urine. Salt can be in some foods or drinks that don't taste salty, so check labels and aim for about 1 teaspoon, or 6 grams, a day.

Coffee: Lots of caffeine -- more than four cups of strong coffee a day -- can slow down bone healing a little. It might make you pee more, and that could mean you lose more calcium through your urine. A moderate amount of coffee or tea should be fine.