The human body is composed of hundreds of nutrients and minerals working together in tandem to keep it functioning. The bones, for example, require a distinct set of nutrients from our diet or otherwise to help maintain their strength and integrity. Without its key nutrients, bones can demineralize, weaken, and eventually result in fractures.

The Two Main Bone Nutrients: Calcium and Vitamin D

The two major nutrients that build the bone are calcium and vitamin D. Both of these minerals are found in abundance in healthy, balanced diets, and the intestines and kidneys tightly regulate their levels through the parathyroid hormone. Calcium is required not only for its bone-building properties but also for its function in maintaining blood vessel integrity and enhancing the immune system.

Foods that are rich in calcium include dairy products such as milk, butter and yoghurt, bread, pasta, green vegetables like kale and broccoli, and calcium-fortified juices.

Vitamin D is another key mineral that is needed to build bones and enhance the effects of calcium. Our body has enzymes that can make its own vitamin D. However, the first step in making vitamin D requires exposure to sunlight. Therefore, people who go out less often in the sun may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Apart from calcium and vitamin D, other nutrients that are involved in the bone-building process include phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins A, C, and K.

What Happens If There Is Too Little Calcium and Vitamin D?

When there is not enough calcium or vitamin D in the body, the bone starts a process of resorption whereby calcium that is needed elsewhere in the body apart from the bone is resorbed from the bone. When there is not enough calcium to replace the resorbed calcium, bones start to weaken.

Similarly, too little vitamin D paves the way for a condition called osteoporosis. This is when the bony matrix does not have enough structure and strength, leading to bone pain and frequent fractures.

Bottom Line

Keep your bones healthy and strong by ensuring a constant and adequate supply of the key ingredients needed for building bones. Diets that are excellent vitamin D and calcium sources include dairy, bread and pasta, fortified foods, and leafy greens.