I had never really thought about my own bones and bone health. I thought that since I was young and active, there was nothing to worry about at all.  As a nursing major, I learned about osteoporosis and the pathophysiology, treatment, and risks. I thought I had strong bones bases solely on being young.  I know, however, from my family history that I am at risk for osteoporosis, but I always thought that I had at least 40 years until I had to worry about decrease bone density and increase fracture risk. Last year, however, this issue came to reality when a minor injury resulted in my inability to walk. I had a lot of discomfort that I could handle for a few days, but then the pain truly set in and I could barely walk.  I knew something was wrong.

 I found out after having an MRI and many x-rays that I had a severe stress fracture in my femur. The fracture was a result of overtraining, but also overtraining in combination with a diet that did not support bone health.  One of the first questions the doctors asked had to do with what my diet was like. And during my recovery, I met with a dietitian to make sure I had the current, proper diet to aid in healing and also to prevent another injury.

Everyone has heard from a parent to drink milk for strong bones, but there are many more components to a healthy diet to protect your bones. This is especially true if you exercise daily, with the start of the new year, try to take special care of yourself with some of these foods.

1. Calcium

I know I said that there is more to consider than a simple glass of milk, but calcium is incredibly important. If you're like me, and don't enjoy a glass of milk, there also many different ways to increase your calcium intake rather than just dairy products.


sweet, coffee, dairy product, yogurt, cream, milk
Kathleen Lee

Yogurt is a nice option for breakfast or lunch. There are so many varieties, but I like to buy Greek because it has more protein that other types of yogurt. I also choose plain yogurt because flavored kinds can have up to 20 grams of sugar. If you're not a huge fan of the taste of plain, try adding cinnamon or honey to your bowl for something a little sweeter.


smoked salmon, salmon steak, sushi, lemon, meat, steak, sashimi, trout, fillet, seafood, fish, salmon
Jonathan Chan

Salmon is a great food to increase in your diet, if you like seafood. It is a good source of protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and many more. Salmon can be eaten at any time of the day: smoked salmon and avocado for breakfast, canned salmon or a salmon fillet on a salad for lunch or on bread, and baked, grilled, or pan fried. My favorite way to enjoy salmon is either making a salmon salad from canned salmon at lunch or simply baking it for dinner. Salmon is very filling, satisfying, and clearly great for your bones.

Leafy Greens

vegetable, salad
Alex Weiner

Collard greens, kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, bok choy and broccoli are a few of the leafy green vegetables that are high in calcium. These also can be eaten at any point in the day. Try adding these to a morning omelet, making a kale salad for lunch, and sauteing some greens for a dinner side. These aren't the only greens you should eat; others, like spinach or Brussels sprouts, have a lot of other vitamins that are great for you.


Juliet Paterek

Good news, cheese is a great source of calcium.  It makes sense, cheese is made from milk, so it has to have a good amount of calcium. Cheese can also be incorporated into any meal or snack throughout  your day. From looking at food labels, I found that feta has the most calcium, followed by mozzarella and other hard cheeses, like Parmesan.


walnut, apricot pits, almond, meat, nut
Kendra Valkema

Almonds have the highest amount of calcium out of other nut options. These are a great snack to pack for work, in between classes, or long study sessions in the library. You could also use almond butter instead of peanut butter for more calcium.  Almond milk is a great alternative to normal dairy milk if you don't like it or cannot tolerate it.

2.  Protein

garlic, chicken
Amanda Shulman

Protein is incredibly important.  Protein helps build muscles, keep us full, and plays an important role in different bodily functions.  Low protein diets decreases bone mass and density, and can put you at a higher risk for fractures.

 There are so many sources of protein to incorporate into every meal of the day, without adding any supplements.  Greek yogurt and eggs are excellent ways to start your day off with a good serving of protein.  Also, any type of meat or fish contains a good amount of protein that you could have at lunch and dinner.  For snacks, look for granola bars that have less added sugar and more protein.  Also, natural nut butters are a possible protein filled snack.

3.  Carbs

Naib Mian

If you're exercising, you especially need carbs. This food group provides you the energy you need for a workout.  This was a big problem for me: carbs were made out to be the enemy, so I ate minimal carbs in my diet. I was mainly just getting them from fruits and vegetables, but that wasn't enough to refuel after working out that morning. One point that the dietician made was that if you are eating sufficient protein, but no carbohydrates, your body cannot use the protein for its purpose which is mainly muscle growth. Instead, your body must use the protein for the energy replacement that the carbohydrates would provide.  


meat, rice, sweet, cereal
Hannah Linn

Quinoa is my personal favorite side dish for dinner and salad add on. Many people even have this as a breakfast bowl in the morning instead of oatmeal because of its higher protein content.

Brown Rice

Naib Mian

This is another great side for a balanced meal. You don't need to go crazy and eat a whole plate of fried rice, but it is important to have enough to protect your bones.


rye bread, wheat bread, crust, rye, flour, cereal, bread, wheat
Sarah Silbiger

Yes, it is perfectly fine to have bread. Making a sandwich or avocado toast can make up a well balanced meal. Try to substitute simple white bread for a whole grain loaf.

Other tips:

Exercise and Stay Active

Weight bearing activities support bone growth, so try to take a daily walk or jog. Make sure, though, to not cause too much stress on your bones that would result in a stress fracture.

Do not work out on an empty stomach

dairy product, sweet
Delissa Handoko

I know a major reason to not work out is that there is not enough time in the day. So I know what you're thinking, "if I barely have time to go to the gym, there is no way I have time to eat a full meal and digest it before I step on the treadmill."  What the dietician told me was that a banana can be your best friend before an early morning workout. There's nothing easier than munching on a banana before running out the door.

Make sure to eat after a work out

tea, coffee, beer
Alyssa DiFrancesco

It is so important to refuel your body after exercising. Waiting too long to eat after a work out or not eating enough, can put your bones at a loss (literally).

Above all, take care of your body

It is so important to listen to your body and nurture it.  This is especially while you are young, because now is the best time to build up bones and bone density. At this point in your life, your bones are at their best and their density will only decrease from here. So make sure to feed your body with what it needs, and listen to your body. If something feels off, do not ignore it. I have learned so much, the hard way, from this entire experience. These types of injuries can set you back for a long time, physically and mentally. I cannot stress how important it is to remember that food is fuel, and there are certain foods we especially need to keep our bodies strong and healthy.