When you have osteoporosis, there are several key nutrients you need to supply your body with to make your bones as strong as possible. Before we get to building out your seven-day diet plan, you first need to know about the kinds of nutrients your body really needs and which foods to avoid.

Here are the nutrients to focus on:

Calcium: This mineral is an important component of bone tissue.

Vitamin D: This is your body’s companion vitamin to calcium. Without enough vitamin D, your body can’t absorb calcium properly.

Protein: You need protein to maintain healthy tissues, including muscle tissue. Low protein intake is associated with increased risk for hip fracture. Researchers recommend eating between 0.8 and 2.0 milligrams (mg) of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Magnesium: This mineral plays a role in building strong bones. However, your body’s ability to absorb magnesium diminishes with age. Eating a variety of healthy foods can help you get enough magnesium on a daily basis.

Vitamin K: Researchers have identified a relationship between vitamin K1 and osteoporosis: Women with lower vitamin K intakes were at greater risk for hip fracture. Those who got more than 254 mg per day had a significantly reduced risk for hip fractures.

Zinc: Your body uses zinc to help the bones stay strong. Low intakes of zinc are associated with poor bone health.

Foods to limit or avoid:

High-salt foods: Excess salt consumption can cause your body to release calcium, which is harmful to your bones. Avoid foods that contain more than 20 percent of the daily recommended value for sodium. Limit your intake to no more than 2,300 mg per day whenever possible.

Alcohol: While a moderate amount of alcohol is considered safe for those with osteoporosis, excess alcohol can lead to bone loss. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, drinks should be limited to about two per day.

Beans/legumes: While beans have some healthy attributes for women with osteoporosis, they’re also high in phytates. These compounds affect your body’s ability to absorb calcium. However, you can reduce the amount of phytates in beans: First soak them in water for two to three hours before cooking, and then drain the beans and add fresh water for cooking.

Excess vitamin A: Too much of this nutrient is associated with having adverse effects on bone health. This isn’t likely to happen through diet alone. However, those who take both a multivitamin and fish liver oil supplement (also high in vitamin A) daily may have increased risk for adverse health effects from excess vitamin A consumption.

Your seven-day plan

Now that you know what nutrients are important when you have osteoporosis, here’s a recommended seven-day plan. Always talk with your doctor before beginning a new meal plan to ensure it doesn’t interfere with any medications or health conditions you may have.

Day 1

Breakfast

  • 8 oz. orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D
  • 1 cup whole grain cereal fortified with vitamin D
  • 4 oz. skim milk

Lunch

  • 2.5 oz. extra-lean ground beef on a whole grain bun (may add 1 slice nonfat American cheese, 1 lettuce leaf, and 2 red tomato slices)
  • green salad with 1 hard-boiled egg and 2 tbsp. low-calorie dressing
  • 8 oz. skim milk

Snack

  • 1 orange

Dinner

  • 2.5 oz. chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 3/4 cup rice
  • 2 slices French bread with 1 tsp. margarine
  • 1 cup strawberries with 2 tbsp. lite whipped topping

Day 2

Breakfast

  • 1 slice whole grain toast with peanut butter, avocado, or fruit jam
  • 8 oz. calcium-fortified orange juice or 4 oz. skim milk

Lunch

  • vegetarian chili
  • green salad with 1 hard-boiled egg and 2 tbsp. low-calorie dressing
  • small serving sorbet with raspberries

Snack

  • low- or nonfat yogurt with sliced fruit or berries

Dinner

  • pasta primavera with whole grain pasta, grilled chicken, yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, and cherry tomatoes, dressed in olive oil
  • cucumber, avocado, and tomato salad
  • small serving lemon sorbet garnished with berry sauce

Day 3

Breakfast

  • slow-cooked oatmeal prepared with apples and/or raisins
  • 8 oz. calcium-fortified orange juice

Lunch

  • falafel pita sandwich (may add cucumber, lettuce, and tomato)
  • 1 slice watermelon

Snack

  • 1 apple, banana, or orange, or 1 serving strawberries

Dinner

  • fajita burrito with chicken or lean steak, bell peppers, onions, and quinoa on a whole grain tortilla
  • mashed sweet potato
  • corn

Day 4

Breakfast

  • scrambled tofu with vegetables, such as bell peppers, sugar snap peas, and spinach
  • oven-roasted breakfast potatoes (may sprinkle with skim-milk American shredded cheese)

Lunch

  • whole wheat wrap with red pepper hummus, grated carrots, and tomato (may also try black or white bean spreads)
  • 1 apple or banana

Snack

  • fruit smoothie blended with low-fat yogurt or skim milk

Dinner

  • grilled chicken sauteed with zucchini, asparagus, and mushrooms
  • corn on the cob

Day 5

Breakfast

  • whole grain cereal with sliced strawberries
  • 4 oz. soy milk
  • 1 small banana

Lunch

  • Thai soup with noodles, spinach, mushrooms, and corn
  • carrot and bean dip, with celery and/or carrots for dipping
  • green salad with tomatoes and basil

Snack

  • chickpea or white bean dip
  • 1 toasted whole grain pita, sliced into fours for dipping

Dinner

  • whole grain spaghetti with vegetables, such as chopped onions, grated carrots, and diced broccoli
  • small serving sorbet with berry sauce or fruits

Day 6

Breakfast

  • whole grain pancakes topped with applesauce or fruit spread
  • 1 small veggie sausage link
  • 4 oz. milk or calcium-fortified orange juice

Lunch

  • vegetable and/or bean-based soup
  • black bean and corn salad with red peppers
  • 1 apple, banana, or orange

Snack

  • 4 cubes of low-fat cheese
  • whole grain crackers or crisps

Dinner

  • whole wheat spinach lasagna with low-fat cheese
  • green salad, with vegetables of your choice

Day 7

Breakfast

  • omelet or quiche with tomato, spinach, and other desired vegetables
  • 8 oz. calcium-fortified juice or skim milk

Lunch

  • 4- to 6-oz. salmon burger on a whole grain bun
  • mashed potatoes

Snack

  • rice pudding or milk pudding prepared with low-fat milk
  • 1 handful of unsalted almonds

Dinner

  • nachos topped with kidney beans, avocado, and low-fat cheese
  • Greek salad with feta cheese

This meal plan was adopted from recommendations by the American Dietetic Association, the book “Building Bone Vitality: A Revolutionary Diet Plan to Prevent Bone Loss and Reverse Osteoporosis,” and the International Osteoporosis Foundation, which offers many bone-friendly recipes.