Bone health – the
importance of nutrition

Though it might seem unlikely at first glance, bones are living, dynamic tissue which is continuingly remodelling itself. Each bone is covered with a coating – the periosteum – that contains many nerves and vessels. It also contains cells that specialise in bone formation (osteoblasts) and resorption (osteoclasts). In this way, the bone is remodelled on an ongoing basis and thus remains stable. In addition, it is able to adjust to the mechanical and physical demands in everyday life. This bone remodelling is controlled in a complex interaction of hormones, vitamins and minerals in combination with mechanical loading. A balanced supply of vitamins and other micronutrients as well as sufficient exercise contribute to a healthy balance within the bone substance.

Building up bone mass in good time

Even though actual bone growth is completed at the end of puberty, the bone substance is subjected to a lifelong process of renewal. Bone mass and bone strength reach their peak around the age of twenty-five. After that they gradually degenerate and the bone mass continually diminishes. Due to the hormonal changes experienced during the menopause, in the years that follow women are affected more than men in the relevant age group. A certain reduction in the bone substance is therefore normal.

Schematic diagram of a bone

Bone health and nutrition

Ensuring a sufficient supply of calcium and micronutrients – both as a young person and in later years – plays a major role in ensuring that your bones remain healthy. A healthy and well-balanced diet influences bone mineral density and thus keeps the bones strong and resilient even in old age.

Calcium – a material for bone formation

In terms of quantity, calcium is the most important mineral in the body. But in addition to the maintenance of normal bones, it also has important responsibilities in other areas of the human organism as well. In order to enable sufficient quantities to be absorbed in the gut, calcium must be ingested together with vitamin D. There is no doubt that a sufficient quantity of calcium obtained from suitable foods is an important prerequisite in maintaining healthy and robust bones. For this reason, your diet should include calcium-rich foods such as milk and dairy products, vegetables, fruit and mineral water containing calcium. When selecting suitable foods, you should also consider that the calcium intake from the gut decreases as a person grows older.

For strong and healthy bones: calcium-rich foods

Safeguarding the supply of micronutrients

In addition to calcium, a broad spectrum of other micronutrients is required for a healthy bone metabolism. The necessary vitamins are primarily vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B2 and folic acid, as well as the fat-soluble vitamin D and vitamin K. Only extremely small amounts of the trace elements copper, manganese and zinc are required, but these are nonetheless vital for the bones. This shows that healthy bones are maintained above all by a combination of different nutrients.

An effective combination of micronutrients

Calcium and vitamin D are an especially effective team. Vitamin D contributes to the normal absorption of calcium in the gut and thus to a normal calcium level in the blood. It also plays a role in the utilisation of phosphates and thus to the maintenance of normal bones. In order to create vitamin D itself, the organism needs to absorb the sun’s rays on the skin. If there is not much opportunity for activating vitamin D in this way, it is all the more important for it to be supplemented in the diet. Increasing your intake of calcium and vitamin D can improve bone density even in old age.

Tips for bone health

For the sake of your bones, you should ensure that you eat a well-balanced diet with a large quantity of fruit and vegetables. In addition, exercise – ideally outside in the fresh air – helps the bones to remain strong and healthy throughout your life.