Think those three servings of dairy or that calcium supplement has got you covered for bone health? Think again.

Strong bones need more than calcium. Bone formation needs a healthy supply of a wide variety of nutrients including protein, magnesium, zinc, vitamins D, C, E and K, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and of course, calcium too. 

When bones sense any type of trauma, including the microtrauma that results from running or lifting, it responds by repairing and strengthening bone and increasing bone formation. This process is called bone remodeling. It’s similar to how the body builds muscles after a workout. This process requires a steady stream of the nutrients stored in bones as well as those needed in the bone building process.

This means a wide variety of foods are beneficial for bone health. And good news for those who prefer not to eat dairy – there’s a ton of dairy free foods that support optimal bone health. Try whipping up a few of these recipes for a strong and healthy skeleton!

Sticky Chocolate Plum Cake (Avocado A Day Nutrition)

Dried plums (aka prunes) contain a wide variety of bone building nutrients including vitamin K, phosphorus, copper, magnesium and potassium. Studies have found 1-2 servings of dried plums a day helps increase bone mineral density and markers of bone formation, even in people who already have osteoporosis. This dense, chocolatey sticky plum cake is just barely sweetened and perfect for snacking or dessert!

Vegan Loaded Sweet Potato (The Foodie Dietitian)

Green leafy veggies are a surprising calcium powerhouse! A cup of kale contains 10% of your daily needs. This recipe pairs kale with another bone builder – sweet potatoes! Sweet potatoes contain a hefty dose of potassium, which neutralizes acid that can leach calcium from bones, and magnesium, which is essential for calcium metabolism and helps convert vitamin D into it’s active form.

Watercress Sardine Tea Sandwiches (Teaspoon of Spice)

Yes, sardines! Just give it a try, you might be surprised! Would it help if I told you sardines contain more calcium and vitamin D than milk? Also, because canned sardines contain tiny edible bones, it’s also a great source of other bone building nutrients, like phosphorus, copper, and B vitamins. Don’t worry, the bones soften during the canning process so you won’t even notice them.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Yogurt with Berries (Sara Haas)

Dairy is still an excellent way to get your daily dose of calcium. And don’t forget the phosphorus, zinc and protein! The beneficial probiotics in yogurt can also improve digestion, making it easier for your body to absorb the other nutrients in your diet. This Mexican hot chocolate inspired yogurt would make a tasty dessert or snack.

Grapefruit Baked Oatmeal with Walnut Streudel (Yeah…Imma Eat That)

Grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C. This vitamin helps form the collagen structure found in bones. This baked oatmeal recipe also contains almond butter, which not only provides filling fats but calcium and potassium too!

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