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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 7-day diet plan, you first need to know about the kinds of nutrients your body really needs and which foods to avoid.

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 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Vitamin C

Some studies have shown Vitamin C to benefit bone mineral density following menopause. Get plenty of vitamin C from fresh fruits and vegetables.

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 daily.

Vitamin K

Research has identified a possible 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.

High-salt foods

Excess salt consumption can cause your body to release calcium, which is harmful to your bones. Limit foods that are high in sodium (those 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 2 to 3 hours before cooking and then drain the beans and add fresh water for cooking.

Wheat bran

Not only does wheat bran contain high levels of phytates, which can hinder calcium absorption, but 100 percent wheat bran is the only food that seems to reduce the absorption of calcium in other foods eaten at the same time.

Therefore, if you take calcium supplements, don’t take them within 2 to 3 hours of eating 100 percent wheat bran.

Excess vitamin A

Vitamin A is essential for bone health, but 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.

Caffeine

Caffeine can decrease calcium absorption and contribute to bone loss. Drinks such as coffee, tea, sodas, and energy drinks all contain varying amounts of caffeine, so choose these beverages in moderation.

Now that you know what nutrients are important when you have osteoporosis, here’s a recommended 7-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.

Breakfast

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

Lunch

  • 2.5 ounces 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. olive-oil-based dressing
  • 8 ounces whole milk (or calcium-fortified unsweetened soy or almond milk)

Snack

  • 1 orange
  • A protein and calcium rich snack such as Greek yogurt, string cheese, or cottage cheese

Dinner

  • 2.5-ounce chicken breast
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 3/4 cup rice OR 2 slices French bread with 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 cup strawberries with 2 tbsp. whipped cream or yogurt

Breakfast

  • 1 slice whole grain toast with peanut butter or avocado
  • 1 apple
  • 8 ounces calcium-fortified orange juice or 4 ounces milk

Lunch

  • vegetarian chili
  • green salad with 1 hard-boiled egg and 2 tbsp. dressing
  • frozen yogurt, ricotta, or cottage cheese

Snack

  • 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 frozen yogurt with raspberries

Breakfast

  • slow-cooked oatmeal prepared with milk and topped with nuts

Lunch

  • falafel pita sandwich with cucumber, lettuce, and tomato
  • 1 slice watermelon

Snack

  • 1 apple, banana, or orange, or 1 serving strawberries PAIRED WITH EITHER:
  • yogurt, almonds, peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, or cheese stick

Dinner

  • fajita burrito with chicken or lean steak, bell peppers, and onions on a whole grain tortilla
  • green salad or cabbage slaw topped with cheese and/or avocado

Breakfast

  • scrambled tofu with vegetables, such as bell peppers, sugar snap peas, and spinach
  • oven-roasted breakfast potatoes sprinkled with 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 yogurt, milk, or calcium-fortified non-dairy substitute such as soy

Dinner

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

Breakfast

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

Lunch

  • Thai soup with spinach, mushrooms, and a protein (either tofu, chicken, shrimp, etc.)
  • carrot and bean dip, with celery and/or carrots for dipping
  • green salad with tomatoes and basil

Snack

  • Greek yogurt parfait with chopped fruit and nuts

Dinner

  • whole grain spaghetti (or bean-based or chickpea pasta) with grilled chicken, shrimp, or lean ground turkey, and vegetables, such as chopped onions, grated carrots, and diced broccoli
  • a calcium-rich dessert like frozen yogurt, pudding made with milk, or ricotta drizzled with honey

Breakfast

  • whole grain pancakes topped with yogurt or cottage cheese and fresh fruit
  • 1 small low-sodium veggie or lean turkey sausage link
  • 4 ounces milk or calcium-fortified orange juice

Lunch

  • vegetable and/or bean-based soup topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt, sour cream, or shredded cheese
  • 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

Breakfast

  • omelet or quiche with cheese, tomato, spinach, and other desired vegetables
  • 8 ounces juice or milk

Lunch

  • 4- to 6-ounce salmon burger on a whole grain bun
  • green salad, cabbage slaw, or roasted broccoli

Snack

  • rice pudding or milk pudding prepared with low fat milk, OR
  • 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 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 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.