Bone Health – Why Should I Care?

Learn how to keep your bones healthy through nutritional choices and lifestyle changes.

Maintaining strong bones is essential for women's overall health, especially considering our increased risk for osteoporosis, or decreased bone mineral density. Learn how to keep your bones healthy through nutritional choices and lifestyle changes.

Perimenopause and bone health

Perimenopause marks the transitional phase preceding menopause, or the end of menstrual cycles. During perimenopause, there’s a gradual decline in estrogen levels and you may experience symptoms such as irregular periods or hot flashes (1). 

The gradual decline in estrogen levels also plays a crucial role in maintaining bone density and strength. In fact, bone strength starts to decrease at about 1% per year, after the age of 40 (2). As estrogen levels decrease, our bone loss may accelerate, leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis. This is a condition characterized by weakened and fragile bones which puts us at an increased risk for fractures. 

To keep your bones healthy and strong, incorporate these nutrients and lifestyle changes:


Calcium is a mineral which plays a main role in our bone strength, development, and growth (3). Consuming foods rich in calcium, such as dairy products, leafy greens, tofu, almonds, and fortified plant-based milks, support bone health. For women over age 51, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1,200 milligrams (mg) daily (4). This is about four servings of calcium-rich foods per day. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone health. Vitamin D assists the body in regulating calcium and phosphorus levels in the bloodstream, minerals that maintain the strength of our bones and teeth. In fact, if we’re deficient in vitamin D, it may lead to a condition called osteomalacia, or softening of the bones (6). 

Women should ensure they get enough sunlight exposure (since most of the vitamin D generally comes from the absorption of sunlight on the skin), and include sources of vitamin D in the diet, such as fatty fish (salmon, tuna), eggs, fortified dairy or plant-based milk, and supplements if your physician recommends them. Find out how much is enough here: Vitamin D and Winter


A well-rounded diet that includes adequate protein from both animal and plant sources can also promote bone health. Bone mineral density (BMD), a key indicator of bone strength, is positively correlated with dietary protein intake (5). Protein-rich animal foods include dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Plant-based sources of protein include legumes, soy products, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

Weight-bearing exercise

When you do weight-bearing activities, such as walking, jogging, dancing, or lifting weights, your bones experience a load. This stimulates and activates bone cells, called osteoblasts, which are responsible for building new bone tissue. Weight-bearing exercises are also beneficial to our health because they increase muscle strength, help manage weight, and improve heart health (7). 

Avoid smoking and limit alcohol

Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact bone health and increase the risk for osteoporosis. Research suggests that smoking is linked to a 31% increase in the risk of hip fractures in women and a 40% increase in men (8). Long term alcohol consumption may interfere with the growth and rebuilding of bones (9). 

Check with your physician about a bone density screening to help assess your current bone health, detect osteoporosis, and make changes early on. For personalized meal plans that can support better bone health and recipe inspiration, download Lifesum.

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