12 Foods That Heal Broken Bones
Get back in action sooner after a fracture: Eat a diet rich in these foods to make sure your bones knit strong, fast, and firm.
Foods like fortified milk, cheese, or yogurt are some of the best sources of calcium and vitamin D, two critical nutrients for bone strength and growth. If you have a fracture, loading up on the dairy high in these nutrients will help support the healing process, says Marisa Moore, RDN, a nutritionist in Atlanta, GA.
Dairy milk gets all the love when it comes to calcium, a critical nutrient for repairing fractures and maintaining strong bones, but if you’re lactose intolerant or just need a change, fortified soy milk is an equally good calcium-rich option. “It delivers a third of the recommended allowance for healthy adult women,” says Moore. Make a healthy dessert by mixing soy milk with chia seeds, a bit of honey, and fresh fruit (or jam, chocolate, or peanut butter). Or, pour it over your morning cereal or oatmeal. Check out these scientist-approved ways to slash your osteoporosis risk.
Calcium only works if you’re getting it with vitamin D, and fatty fish like tuna happens to be a good source. “Calcium is the obvious nutrient here, but without vitamin D, achieving good bone health will be a challenge,” says Moore. D helps control calcium levels in the blood and plays a key role in bone growth and structure, she explains.
This Halloween, clean, dry, and roast the pumpkin seeds from your jack-o’-lantern: They’re a good source of magnesium, a mineral that helps the body absorb calcium; it contributes to the strength and firmness of bones, two important factors when you’re trying to heal a fracture, says Kristi Veltkamp, a dietician with Spectrum Health’s STR!VE. You can toss roasted pumpkin seeds on a salad or munch them alone as a crunchy snack. Watch out for these secret signs your bones could be in trouble.
Sweet bell peppers—especially the red ones—are brimming with vitamin C, a nutrient that’s critical for forming collagen, and that’s important when rebuilding bone, says Moore. Believe it or not, ½ cup of bell peppers actually has more vitamin C than an orange. Cut the peppers into strips and dip them in hummus, or try adding them to a stir-fry or omelet. Try these other collagen-boosting foods.
It’s fitting that kale is loaded with vitamin K. “This vitamin is required for calcium-binding activity in bone formation,” says Moore. Translation: it helps your body use calcium in a way that helps it reknit bone. Chow down on a kale salad, sauté the leaves as a hearty side dish, or crisp them in the oven for a bone-friendly snack.
Sardines are a rich source of bone-fortifying calcium. “Teens need 1300 mg, adult women need 1200 mg, and adult men need 1000 mg of calcium a day,” says Veltkamp. If you don’t like them in sandwiches, try frying them up or cooking them into a tomato sauce. Watch out for these sneaky signs you might have osteoporosis.
Unless you’re drinking fortified milk or dairy, getting vitamin D from your diet is tricky. However, whole eggs have small amounts, says Moore. They also contain a bit of calcium and magnesium; plus, you get plenty of protein, iron, and B vitamins—key for overall health. If you’re looking for new ways to eat eggs, here are 55.
If you’re looking to strengthen your bones, find a reason to eat black beans. They’re another good source of magnesium, the mineral that’s crucial to faster skeleton healing. You can put them in a taco salad, a burrito, or feature them in a big pot of chili.
This juicy sweet fruit is filled with vitamin K. In fact, ¾ cup provides 25 percent of your daily value, says Moore. Eat them plain, freeze them for an icy treat, or use as a salad, yogurt, or oatmeal topping. Here are other summer superfoods you should be eating.
Fatty fish like salmon are high in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids—these also play a role in collagen formation. Fill out your plate with other bone-building foods like dark leafy greens or broccoli and cauliflower medley. Check out these other omega-3 rich foods could add years to your life.
This herb is good for more than a garnish—it’s actually an excellent source of vitamin K, says Moore. Make a parsley pesto for an easy and tasty way to consume a lot of it; put the pesto over bone-building veggies or fish from the list above for an extra boost. Next, keep your skeleton strong with these easy habits that boost bone density.