Nutritional intake and bone health

Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2021 Sep;9(9):606-621. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(21)00119-4. Epub 2021 Jul 6.


Osteoporotic or fragility fractures affect one in two women and one in five men who are older than 50. These events are associated with substantial morbidity, increased mortality, and an impaired quality of life. Recommended general measures for fragility fracture prevention include a balanced diet with an optimal protein and calcium intake and vitamin D sufficiency, together with regular weight-bearing physical exercise. In this narrative Review, we discuss the role of nutrients, foods, and dietary patterns in maintaining bone health. Much of this information comes from observational studies. Bone mineral density, microstructure-estimated bone strength, and trabecular and cortical microstructure are positively associated with total protein intake. Several studies indicate that fracture risk might be lower with a higher dietary protein intake, provided that the calcium supply is sufficient. Dairy products are a valuable source of these two nutrients. Hip fracture risk appears to be lower in consumers of dairy products, particularly fermented dairy products. Consuming less than five servings per day of fruit and vegetables is associated with a higher hip fracture risk. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet or to a prudent diet is associated with a lower fracture risk. These various nutrients and dietary patterns influence gut microbiota composition or function, or both. The conclusions of this Review emphasise the importance of a balanced diet including minerals, protein, and fruit and vegetables for bone health and in the prevention of fragility fractures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Osteoporosis / diet therapy
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / diet therapy
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / prevention & control*


  • Calcium, Dietary