Bone Health – Part 2

Last month I talked about how important it is to look after our bones, so this month we will continue with this topic and take a look at nutrients that are important for good bone health:

  • Calcium, good sources include dark green leafy vegetables like bok choy, kale and green cabbage, also various nuts and seeds like almonds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Vitamin D is important because it helps our bodies absorb the calcium in our food.  Oily fish such as salmon and sardines contain good amounts of vitamin D and of course, our skin makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun. 
  • Phosphorous works together with calcium to give hardness to bone.  It’s found in many different foods, especially meat, dairy, and eggs.
  • Magnesium helps to give structure to bone and is found in leafy green veggies, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
  • Vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin, is found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.  Eating olive oil, avocado oil or a little butter with your greens helps your body to absorb this vitamin more effectively. Vitamin K is also produced by the bacteria in our intestines. 

More reasons to quit some habits

Smoking and too much alcohol can interfere with our body’s ability to absorb calcium, causing weak bones. Excessive salt and caffeine consumption can have a detrimental effect on bone, as they cause more calcium to be lost in urine instead of being stored by the body.  Interestingly, studies have shown that high soft drink consumption has a detrimental effect on bones, however, researchers have not yet been able to determine why.

Hormonal changes

High levels of thyroid hormone and low levels of oestrogen (especially at menopause) can cause bone loss, so in both these cases it is important to make sure you look after your bones well.


Weight bearing exercise protects against bone loss.  Just like a muscle needs a certain amount of stress to grow stronger, it works the same way with our bones.  Any weight bearing exercise such as walking, running, strength training and tennis, puts a healthy stress on the bones causing them to become stronger.  With the winter winding down and sunnier days ahead, it’s a great time to add some exercise to your daily routine and your bones will love you for it!

By Paula Southworth

Nutritionist and Health Coach, Dr Kathleen & Team:

(BSc Human Nutrition and Sports Science, Massey University)

Member of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand


  1. Association between soft drink consumption and osteoporotic fractures among postmenopausal women: the Women’s Health Initiative

  1. Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and bone health: a systematic review and meta-analysis.