Strong, healthy bones don’t just occur out of nowhere; a host of lifestyle choices builds them day by day. Performing weight-bearing exercises, not smoking, supplementing with certain vitamins and minerals, and choosing the right foods and beverages—most famously, milk—all contribute to solid, shatter-proof bones.
Still, the connection between bones and drinks goes way beyond dairy (although it is, of course, an excellent option). Numerous other beverages can help prevent bone loss by loading you up on calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, vitamin C, and other bone-building nutrients.
If you’re working on curating your diet to combat osteoporosis, try these five healthy drinks. Then, don’t miss the #1 Best Fruit to Keep Your Bones from Aging.
No surprise here! Milk is a classic go-to for bone health for good reason. Dairy products are some of the highest dietary sources of calcium, the mineral that serves as a building block of the skeleton. While the jury is still out on exactly how much calcium to ingest daily to prevent bone loss, one thing is certain: getting adequate vitamin D boosts calcium absorption. Consuming the two together—as in a glass of vitamin D-fortified milk—offers a synergistic effect for strengthening bones.
Meanwhile, milk provides plenty of protein (an impressive 8 grams per 8-ounces). Research shows that protein is a key nutrient for bone health across the lifespan and even helps prevent osteoporosis.
Can’t drink milk due to lactose intolerance or an aversion to its flavor? Don’t dismay—there are other dairy options available. A 2021 study recommended that people who need to go milk-less should choose fermented dairy beverages as an alternative for promoting bone health.
Kefir is an excellent example. This probiotic-rich bottled dairy product (which you can think of as a drinkable yogurt) is lactose-free but still contains plenty of calcium. Full-fat dairy kefir also packs a punch of vitamin K2, another major player in bone health. A 2015 study on osteoporosis patients found that supplementing their diet with kefir for six months was associated with greater bone turnover and higher hip bone mineral density.
Dairy foods top everyone’s list of high-calcium foods, but dark green leafy vegetables aren’t far behind. Spinach and kale both contain sizable amounts of calcium (though spinach contains oxalates, which inhibit the body’s ability to absorb its calcium). For bone building, kale is a better choice for popping in green smoothies or juices.
Toss some fresh kale in the blender with fortified milk, kefir, or yogurt to maximize calcium and vitamin D content—then sweeten things up with the addition of a banana or orange segments. Their potassium content may help improve bone mineral density.
Grapefruit juice already has a reputation as a wellness beverage. (What else do health nuts drink with breakfast?) Turns out, the juice may have even more to offer beyond its weight loss and skin health benefits. Grapefruit juice may also help maintain strong, sturdy bones.
The fresh and fruity drink contains extremely high amounts of vitamin C, which assists with collagen production in the bone matrix and ousts harmful free radicals detrimental to bone health. Animal research on grapefruit juice’s effects on bones is especially promising.
In one study, grapefruit pulp improved bone quality in rats, while in another, grapefruit juice increased bone quality, bone mineral contents, and bone turnover. More research is needed to pin down the juice’s impact on humans, but we say go ahead and drink pink for bone health.
Milk alternatives don’t always offer all the protein of dairy milk, but they’re much more than just nut-flavored water. In fact, “mylks” like soy, almonds, cashew, and macadamia deserve a place in your fridge for strengthening bones. These beverages are typically fortified with several nutrients that prevent bone loss–especially calcium and vitamin D. Turn to an alt-milk’s nutrition facts label and you may be surprised to find it actually packs more of these nutrients than cow’s milk!
Of the many non-dairy kinds of milk on the market, soy milk is an especially good choice for bone health for its high protein content, plus ample calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and magnesium. Eight ounces of Silk’s Original Soy Milk, for example, comes with 8 grams of protein (the same as cow’s milk), 30% of the Daily Value (DV) of calcium, and 15% of the DV of vitamin D.
Along with drinks, here are the 5 Best Foods for Keeping Your Bones from Aging, Says Dietitian.