9 amazing foods to build your bones

Every 2 minutes someone in the UK will break a bone. That’s 300,000 fractures a year, many of which are due to the bone disease osteoporosis. It’s really important to look after your bones and the good news is, the food you eat can really help to keep them strong.

Whatever your age or sex, it’s vital to make sure that what you eat today will help keep your skeleton in tip-top condition. We all know you can do this by eating plenty of calcium, but did you know you also need to make sure you’re getting enough of the vitamin D that helps your body absorb calcium in order to really make your bones strong?

Sarah Leyland, Senior osteoporosis nurse and Helpline manager at the National Osteoporosis Society says it’s never too late to start eating for your bones.

“’Healthy eating — including calcium-rich foods — is essential for bone health. The recommended amount of calcium is at least 700mg a day — the equivalent of a pint of milk. As well as dairy products, calcium can be found in green leafy vegetables such as watercress and curly kale, dried fruit such as currants and tinned fish containing bones such as sardines.”

There are lots of ways of getting both of these important bone-building vitamins and nutrients into your diet every day, and we’re not just talking about dairy. Here’s ten fantastic bone building foods high in calcium and vitamin D.

Five out of the ordinary ways to pack more calcium in your diet


Commonly known as lady’s fingers and originally from Africa, okra is widely used in Caribbean, Creole, Cajun and Indian cooking and contains 120mg of calcium per 100g portion. The green, slightly fuzzy pod has a taste somewhere between aubergine and asparagus and is great for thickening stews such as Gumbo. It can also add depth to your usual curry recipe.

Dried Figs

While they may not deliver the unique soft-ripe-fruit-with-a-crunchy-seedy-finish of their fresh counterparts, just two dried figs pack a massive 92mg of calcium and are delicious as a mid-morning snack. They’re also an excellent addition to smoothies and brilliant in flapjacks and homemade granola bars.


Grown as an edible herb throughout the Mediterranean area since Roman times and making regular appearances in English salads since the 16th century, rocket packs a peppery punch to any meal. It also surprisingly contains 216mg of calcium per 100g serving. Try it stirred in with your pasta or sprinkled on top of your pizza.

Chia seeds

Superfood of the moment, Chia seeds come from a species of flowering plant which is part of the mint family and is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. The really great thing about them in terms of bone health is that a 30g serving contains a whopping 190mg of calcium. They taste great too – try sprinkling over cereal, yoghurt, sauces and savoury dishes, or use as a way of adding crunch to cakes and breads.


Global demand for this nutritious super nut reached such a peak this summer that California – which supplies 80 per cent of the world’s almonds – was pushed to the brink of a catastrophic drought as farmers used water supplies to satisfy their thirsty trees. It’s no wonder the humble almond is in such high demand, 10 will provide 53mg of calcium and they’re great in a whole range of sweet and savoury dishes.

Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium in your diet. Here’s 5 unusual foods abundant in the big D!


True caviar is the salted and matured eggs or roe of the female sturgeon and is often seen as the snack of choice of the rich and famous. The eggs are usually a pearly greyish-black in colour and vary in size. Most caviar comes from the Caspian Sea and is processed in Russia and Iran. It’s not cheap, though cheaper varieties are available – even budget supermarkets Lidl and Aldi have been getting in on the action recently. Wherever it comes from, each 100g potion of caviar contains 2.9mg of bone building vitamin D.


While smoked salmon offers a more delicate flavour and cod a more substantial, meatier eating experience, the humble eel is a really delicious fish. A staple of Japanese and Chinese cooking and famous in England in its Cockney Jellied form, 100g of Eel contains a mighty 23.3mg of vitamin D. Try it smoked or in a hearty chowder.

Chanterelle Mushrooms

Chanterelles are wild mushrooms with a bright orangey colour that grow particularly well in Scotland and in Scandinavia. They are highly prized by fungi collectors, enthusiasts and especially cooks. With a delicate peppery taste and a smell similar to ripe apricots, the chanterelle is a perfect addition to stews and meat dishes. It’s also rich in vitamin D, with each 100g portion packing 5.3mg.


Ricotta Cheese

We couldn’t completely ignore good old dairy and Ricotta Cheese was just too delicious to leave off our list. A soft Italian curd cheese made from whey, Ricotta is light and creamy with a slightly grainy texture and delicate flavour. As well as containing 10IU of vitamin D per 100g, it’s also low in fat. Try it crumbled into pasta or as a delicious light desert drizzled with honey.

The National Osteoporosis Society has lots of information on getting bone building calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients into your diet. For more information visit www.nos.org.uk or call our Helpline on 0808 800 0035.

Nutrition information references sourced from:

McCance & Widdowson (2015) The Composition of Foods 7th summary edition, Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry

(USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference; Release 28