Strong Bones

By Charlyn Fargo

March 5, 2021 5 min read

No matter what age, we need strong bones. And building strong bones starts early in life. We continue to build bone until the age of 30, and then we strive to maintain that strong foundation. That's why calcium — and other nutrients — are so important to kids and teens.

Calcium is a key component to healthy bones, but it can't act alone. It takes a village of nutrients all working together to help your body maintain or retain its healthy structure, according to Mayo Clinic.

It may surprise you to know your bones are always changing. Old bone is broken down and replaced by new bone until that magic age of 30, when bone mass is at its peak. After that, while bone replacement continues, new bone doesn't keep up, and we begin to lose bone mass.

We can keep bone loss minimized by eating a "healthy bone diet," doing weight-bearing exercise, limiting alcohol and not smoking.

What are the best foods to eat? Milk, cheese and yogurt, of course, because they are good sources of calcium. And calcium absorption is aided by vitamin D (fortified in milk and yogurt) and magnesium (needed to properly regulate calcium and vitamin D). Our bones also need phosphorus (to neutralize acidic foods that could be harmful to bones), potassium (also helpful in neutralizing acids) and vitamin A (essential for cells that build bone).

Here are some good sources of those nutrients:

Magnesium: green vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains and avocado.

Vitamin D: fatty fish (such as swordfish, salmon or sardines) and egg yolks.

Phosphorus: soybeans, fish, meat, milk, eggs, legumes and whole grains

Potassium: fruits (especially bananas and oranges), vegetables (especially potatoes), scallops, beans, whole grains and squash.

Vitamin A: sweet potato, beef liver, spinach, carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes, fortified foods and eggs.

To help your bones, fill your plate with low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein.

Q and A

Q: Does vitamin D help with immunity?

A: While it's not the only vitamin necessary for immune support, research shows that vitamin D can help the immune system resist bacteria and viruses. This fat-soluble vitamin assists with bone health and muscle function, too. While your body can make vitamin D from the sun, we often block that by putting on sunscreen, or we live in an area that doesn't offer a lot of sunshine. Egg yolks are a great source of vitamin D, whether hard-boiled or scrambled.


Coconut shrimp has always been a favorite of mine. Here's a recipe that gives that same great Caribbean flavor to chicken. This is a quick and easy recipe for a busy weeknight. Serve with roasted vegetables. The recipe is from Good Housekeeping magazine.


Servings: 4

3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup panko

2 scallions, finely chopped

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 large egg

8 small chicken cutlets (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Kosher salt and pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

In a shallow bowl, combine coconut, panko and scallions. Place flour in second bowl, and in third bowl, beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Season chicken cutlets with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Dip each in flour and then in egg, letting any excess drip off, and then coat in coconut mixture, pressing gently to help it adhere. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet on medium. Add half of cutlets, and cook until golden-brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side; transfer to plate, and wipe out skillet. Repeat with remaining oil and cutlets.

Per serving: 455 calories; 39 grams protein; 25 grams carbohydrates; 22 grams fat (8.5 grams saturated); 2 grams fiber; 395 milligrams sodium.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: ReadyElements at Pixabay

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