Diet for Osteoporosis


La diet to osteoporosis is a diet aimed at to prevent this skeletal pathology, typical (but not exclusive) of females in old age.

permanently clean, but at the most interrupted in its progression; good bone density recovery results - in terms of a few percentage points - can be obtained with the motor therapy associated with drugs specific e regime correct nutritional.

Although there are known therapies capable of hindering its worsening and to a small extent improve its course, currently there are no remedies capable of reversing the process, especially if serious.

Osteoporosis: statistics and dimensions of the problem

Osteoporosis is a very widespread disease, which affects approx 5 million of your country.

The incidence of this pathology in Western countries is growing year after year, it seems, due to the progressive increase in the average age of the population.

Suffice it to say that every thirty seconds in Europe a person with osteoporosis suffers a fracture of a limb or a vertebra.


Importance of lifestyle

Diet too, motor activity and more generally it contemporary lifestyle (such as reduced sun exposure) contribute to increasing the incidence of osteoporosis.

We recommend abolish smoking, which has a negative effect on bone mass.

Physical activity, especially motor-sports type, exercises one mechanical stimulus on the bones, which are urged to grow (in developmental age) and to maintain a certain density or compactness.

Sun exposure it is essential for the cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D, a pro-hormonal factor necessary for ossification and lacking in the diet of the average population.

For this reason it is very important to adopt, from an early age, healthy dietary habits, effective for preventing the onset of osteoporosis and fighting its advancement, especially if there is a strong genetic predisposition.

Osteoporosis: Geriatric or Pediatric Disease?

For a long time, given the age of onset, osteoporosis was thought to be an aging-related disease. Today, however, specialists prefer to talk about disease mainly pediatric, as it seems that the most relevant risk factor is the failure to reach peak bone mass.

To be clear, a child who suffers from a nutritional deficiency (calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D) or is afflicted by a metabolic - hormonal decompensation, such as not to develop the bones correctly, has a higher probability to become osteoporotic in adulthood or geriatric age.

From the earliest years of life, it is therefore of primary importance to safeguard the health and well-being of one's bones by practicing regular physical activity and adopting a healthy and balanced diet.

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
Influenced Partially Influential Not Influenced
Physical activity Weight Age
Smoke Menopause Ethnicity (white and Asian)
Consumption of coffee Endocrine diseases Familiarity
Consumption of alcohol Rheumatological diseases Female gender *
Nutritional benefits (proteins, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium) Use of drugs (corticosteroids, some antiepileptics, heparin etc.)  
* Women have a higher risk of getting osteoporosis than men due to lower bone mass, increased longevity, and an often low calcium diet

What to avoid

What to avoid to prevent osteoporosis?

To help achieve and maintain peak bone mass, it is also important to avoid consuming excessive amounts of nutritional and anti-nutritional factors that interfere with calcium absorption or promote renal excretion in the urine. Eg:

  • Don't overdo it with the sodium: if in excess, in addition to promoting hypertension, this mineral increases the renal excretion of calcium from the bloodstream;
  • Don't overdo the phosphorus: this mineral essential for the synthesis of hydroxyapatite (the bone mineral), if proportionally in excess of calcium, hinders the absorption of the latter. Given that phosphorus in the diet is generally more abundant than calcium, some specialists advise to be careful not to associate foods rich in phosphorus (such as certain fishery products) with those rich in calcium (since, especially in milk and derivatives - that are the main sources of calcium - phosphorus is already present in sufficient quantities);
  • Don't overdo the protein: it has been hypothesized that an excessive intake of proteins, due to the considerable nitrogen residue, can also increase the renal excretion of calcium from the bloodstream;
  • Don't overdo the fibers, With l 'phytic acid, With l 'oxalic acid and with tannins: fibers are essential for the proper functioning of the intestine, but if in excess they hinder the intestinal absorption of nutrients. Oxalic acid, phytic acid and tannins have a tendency to bind with certain minerals in the intestine, including calcium, preventing its uptake.
  • Don't overdo the sucrose el 'ethyl alcohol; are considered negative factors for the proper metabolism of calcium and bones.
  • Don't overdo the stimulants such as caffeine and theophylline.

Nutritional Advice

Useful tips to follow in the diet for osteoporosis

A diet rich in calcium and phosphorus, and sufficient levels of vitamin D vitamin K are essential to prevent and fight osteoporosis. Also, as we said above, it would be better to limit the quantities of some foods.

Let's see what it is advisable to eat and how much, to guarantee these conditions.

  • Encourage the consumption of foods rich in football; especially milk and derivatives. Certain fishery products, legumes and whole grains also contain a marginal percentage. However, vegetable calcium is not to be considered completely bioavailable due to the presence of anti-nutritional factors; consuming milk and derivatives, a satisfactory share of phosphorus, rarely deficient but still important (as long as not in excess of calcium);
  • Promote the consumption of foods rich in vitamin D.; even if this vitamin is mainly synthesized in the skin in exposure to sunlight, more or less significant quantities of vitamin D can be taken with the diet. It is present in the liver, especially of fish such as cod, in the meat of fish (especially blue), in the oil obtained from it, in egg yolk and in mushrooms;
  • The hypothesis has recently been advanced that the Vitamin K may be related to a greater predisposition to osteoporosis. Several studies are still ongoing in this regard. Vitamin K1 it is widely distributed in food of origin vegetable and above all of the leaf or flower type such as: spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnip greens, etc. Its absorption is optimized by an environment lipophilic, therefore in the presence of fats such as extra virgin olive oil;
  • Make sure you have sufficient intake of magnesium. This mineral also participates in ossification, which is why its chronic deficiency could also participate in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis. Magnesium abounds in moles oil seeds (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, etc.), moles vegetable (beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, etc.), moles Whole grains and in other vegetables;
  • Consume a quantity appropriate of food strongly protein: for example, limit the portion of meat dishes to 100 g, of cured meats to 50 g, of fish products to 150 g, of aged cheeses to 50 g, of fresh cheeses to 100 g, of milk and yogurt to 125 ml, of eggs to 50 g (number 1). The frequency of consumption is:
    • about two weekly portions of meat
    • two or three of fishery products
    • three eggs in all
    • two portions of mature cheese or three of fresh cheeses (excluding parmesan on first courses)
    • three a day of milk and yogurt;
    • cured meats are to be consumed occasionally, as well as canned fish.

Note: they may seem small portions, but we must not forget that proteins are also contained in foods of plant origin (especially in legumes).

  • Exclude added salt from your diet or limit it as much as possible. The same goes for salty foods (cured meats, sausages to be cooked, canned fish, salty snacks - such as pretzels or chips or peanuts - very aged cheeses, all foods in brine or salt, etc.);
  • Consume the right quantities of cereals and legumes, and evaluate the relevance of wholemeal products: in addition to being rich in fiber (which in diets with many calories and large portions become excessive) they contain many anti-nutritional agents. The portion of cereals for first courses should be around 80 g; 50 g for dried legumes, while that of bread is 50 g (we omit the other derivatives such as biscuits, rusks, etc.). The total quantity and number of servings varies greatly according to the general composition of the diet;
  • Consume the right quantities of fruit and vegetables: for the same reasons just described. 4-6 portions a day of 50-250 g between raw and cooked foods are enough;
  • Eliminate the consumption of added sugar and limit sweet recipes as much as possible;
  • Eliminate alcohol;
  • Limit the consumption of coffee, fermented tea, energy drinks.

Calcium, Diet and Osteoporosis

Your country's diet is often low in calcium (on average it only provides 700-800 mg / day). This deficiency predisposes many people to osteoporosis (especially postmenopausal women).

The daily calcium requirement for adults is estimated at around 800-1.000 mg per day. The following table shows the recommended daily intake levels for different ages:

Category Age (years) 1 Weight (kg) 2 Calcium intake (mg / day)
infants 0,5 1 7 10 500
Kids 1 3 9 16 800
  4 6 16 22 800
  7 10 23 33 1000
Our boys 11 14 35 53 1200
  15 17 55 66 1200
  18 29 65 1000
  30 59 65 800
  60+ 65 1000
Our girls 11 14 35 51 1200
  15 17 52 55 1200
  18 29 56 1000
  30 49 56 800
  50+ 56 1200 1500
Expectant     1200
Nutrients     1200
An excess of calcium in the diet is difficult to achieve with food alone. In any case, exceeding the recommended values ​​is completely harmless, with rare exceptions. The hypothesis that an excess of calcium favors the onset of kidney stones has proved completely unfounded.
Average calcium content in some foods
Food Calcium (mg) per 100g of food
Long-aged cheeses (parmesan, emmenthal) 900 1100
Medium-aged cheeses (taleggio, fontina, provolone) 600 900
Fresh cheeses (ricotta, mozzarella, robiola) 400 600
Blue fish 350
Rocket or rug 300
Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts 250 300
Cavoli, rape, version 250
Broccoli, Beans 100 125
Shrimp 120
Low-fat milk and yoghurt 100 120
Whole milk and yoghurt 80 100
Spinaci 80 100
Equivalence of 500 mg of calcium compared to the content of proteins, lipids and energy intake for several types of cheese
Formaggio Quantity (g) Protein (g) Lipids (g) Energy (kcal)
Parmesan 37 13,3 9,6 146
Grit 39 13,8 8,8 141
Emmental 44 12,5 13,5 178
Provolone Cheese 57 15,0 16,5 216
Gorgonzola 82 15,9 25,6 302
Beautiful country 83 24,1 25,1 321
Stracchino 88 16,3 22,1 272
Dairy 116 13,0 31,2 339
Mozzarella 124 24,6 20,0 291
Scamorza 127 28,9 12,8 245
Sheep Ricotta 182 17,3 27,3 324
Milk cream 309 63,7 62,7 851
Mascarpone 735 55,9 345 3356
Which and How Many Foods to Take a Gram of Calcium?
Food Quantity Calcium (mg)
Latte o yogurt a 140ml cup or jar 140
Seasoning cheese two 5g teaspoons 115
Seasoned table cheese a portion of 50g 580
Fish and meat a restaurant portion 30
Pasta and bread Pasta (90g) and bread (100g) 40
Dried vegetables   75
Vegetables   little usable stock
Acqua   depending on the mineral characteristics (see above)
    TOTAL 980 mg of calcium in the diet

Looking at the table, you realize how simple it is all in all to get the right amounts of calcium in your diet. For example, 37 g of Parmesan or 82 grams of gorgonzola are enough to introduce 500 mg of calcium, almost half of the recommended daily allowance.

To prevent osteoporosis, a good percentage of the calcium taken in the diet should also derive from plant foods: rich in sesame, walnuts, almonds, cabbage and legumes.

Optimize the absorption of dietary calcium

The absorption of calcium present in food is favored by the simultaneous presence of:

  • Vitamin D (contained in animal fats)
  • Lactose (milk sugar)
  • Some amino acids
  • Optimal ratio of phosphorus and calcium.

For this reason, while the macro and micronutrient composition of dairy products and oily fish favors the absorption of the calcium contained in them, some substances present in plants make this process more difficult.

Food Yes and Food No

Summary of foods recommended and not recommended in the diet for osteoporosis

Recommended Foods Foods Not Recommended
Milk: At least two glasses a day (even skimmed) Foods rich in salt: A diet that is too high in sodium increases the loss of calcium in the urine
Cheeses: Fresh cheeses (ricotta, cottage cheese, etc.) contain, for the same weight, less calcium than mature cheeses Excess Protein A diet that is too high in protein increases the loss of calcium in the urine. However, it should be noted that in various studies, high-protein diets have been shown to increase intestinal absorption of calcium, compensating for the increased urinary losses of the mineral; moreover, a diet very rich in proteins seems to favor the synthesis of hormones with an anabolic effect on the bone (such as IGF-1), reducing the synthesis of parathyroid hormone; at present, therefore, high-protein diets are NOT considered harmful to bone health. A low-protein diet, on the other hand, could represent a risk factor for osteoporosis.
Yogurt: There are "fortified" products with a high calcium content on the market; however, traditional yogurt has a calcium content similar to that of milk Legumes / vegetables in excess: Especially some vegetables (spinach, beets), or excess in general, reduce intestinal absorption of calcium
Mineral waters: Bicarbonate / calcium waters have a high calcium content Whole foods: A high consumption of whole foods and bran supplements decreases intestinal absorption of calcium
Fish: Blue fish has an appreciable calcium content Coffee and Caffeine: Excessive consumption of caffeine increases the loss of calcium in the urine
Legumes / vegetables: Beans and chickpeas have a good calcium content Alcohol: The consumption of alcohol decreases the absorption of calcium and reduces the activity of the cells that "build bone"
NOTE: : If calcium is taken with meals, its absorption is better than when taken on an empty stomach. 

Vitamin D and Osteoporosis

How important is vitamin D in the diet?

Vitamin D or calciferol is not really a vitamin, but a hormone, which mainly controls the intestinal absorption of calcium.

The skin synthesizes vitamin D by exploiting the action of ultraviolet rays B. Thanks to the heat that these rays produce, the conversion of dehydrocholesterol (precursor) into vitamin D takes place in the deep layers of the skin. Other organs such as the liver and kidney are important in the metabolism of calciferol, as they favor its metabolization and activation. According to some epidemiological studies, there is a widespread lack of vitamin D in the population over 65; due to this deficit, the absorption of calcium in the intestine is compromised, aggravating a situation already compromised by aging.

To increase the levels of this vitamin in the diet, it is important to consume the right amounts of eggs, salmon, butter and milk.

Given that almost all of vitamin D is synthesized in the skin, especially for the elderly who already suffer from osteoporosis, it is advisable to combine a balanced diet with the right exposure to the sun.

Note: we remind you that, as important as a physiological levels, there is no evidence that vitamin K1 and magnesium supplementation is beneficial for bone health and osteoporosis prevention, but deficiency may be a risk factor that should not be underestimated.

For further information: Diet and Bone Fractures
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