The protective role of nutrition factors such as calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K for the integrity of the skeleton is well understood. In addition, integrity of the skeleton is positively influenced by certain trace elements (e.g. zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, iron, selenium, boron and fluoride) and negatively by others (lead, cadmium, cobalt). Deficiency or excess of these elements influence bone mass and bone quality in adulthood as well as in childhood and adolescence. However, some protective elements may become toxic under certain conditions, depending on dosage (serum concentration), duration of treatment and interactions among individual elements. We review the beneficial and toxic effects of key elements on bone homeostasis.