5 Science-Backed Ways to Improve Bone Density

Updated: November 17, 2023

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So you went in for a bone density scan, and it turns out your bone mineral density (BMD) isn’t where you want it to be. Your first thought is probably: Can bone density be built back up?

It’s understandable that you may be a little concerned about the loss of bone integrity, but the good news is that, yes, you can rebuild your bones and turn back the clock on potential complications like osteopenia and osteoporosis. 

This article will highlight five key all-natural steps you can take to rebuild and maintain strong bones, no matter what your scans show.

5 Ways to Rebuild Bone Density

Exercise Your Way to Healthy Bones

Exercise stimulates osteogenesis, the development and formation of bones. While all activity, particularly weight-bearing and resistance exercise, can help maintain bone integrity, improving bone mineral density takes a well-rounded workout routine. 

If you can withstand high intensity, one study on women aged 35 to 40 indicated that high-impact exercise is effective in improving bone mineral density1. But not everyone can tolerate this type of stress. 
A high-impact routine where “jumping” moves were performed in water may help cushion your joints from shock absorption. One study performed on 25 postmenopausal women showed significant increases in lumbar spine, femur, and whole body BMD in the group that completed high-intensity, jump-based exercises in a pool2 compared to the control group. 


This isn’t to say that our most natural form of movement — walking — doesn’t impact BMD. It does. One meta-analysis of research that included the findings of 10 studies found that walking has a significant positive effect3 on lumbar BMD, but not on femur (thigh bone) or calcaneus (heel bone) bone mineral density. 

Other exercises known to improve BMD include other weight-bearing movements like stair climbing, jogging, and tai chi. Strengthening and resistance training, such as lifting weights and other forms of resistance4 like swimming will also do the trick. 

One meta-analysis of 24 clinical trials suggests that combining resistance training with high-impact or other weight-bearing exercise significantly impacted BMD,5 so circuit training or bootcamp-style workouts that combine strength and conditioning can help you make the most of your time. 

At the end of the day, moving in any way will benefit you. Remember, your level of exertion is unique to you — there’s no need to keep up with your workout buddies.

Make Food Your Medicine

Which foods increase bone density? The short answer is any foods that support bone mineralization and help you avoid inflammation

Inflammation is one of the primary culprits behind bone loss, and one of the best ways to manage inflammation6 is through your diet. Generally speaking, a whole food diet filled with a variety of organic fruits and vegetables and plenty of protein will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. 

With that being said, some stand-out nutrients directly support the health of your bones; these include:


Your body can’t make its own calcium, but this mineral is essential for the health and integrity of your bones. In fact, about 65% of your bone tissue7 is made up of calcium. Therefore, if you want strong bones, you must get adequate calcium into your diet.

Calcium can be found in dairy products like milk and yogurt, as well as sardines, soybeans, and salmon. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is crucial for the absorption of calcium; when vitamin D is low, you’re unable to get calcium to your bones. This means you could consume as much calcium as you like, but it will do little good for your skeletal health8.

Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish like salmon and sardines, as well as eggs and some mushrooms.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays an essential role in your bone matrix9 as it assists in the production of collagen, another essential component of bone tissue. 

Citrus fruit is a fantastic source of vitamin C, along with vegetables like bell peppers and fruit like tomatoes. 


Magnesium is another mineral that’s essential for the formation of bones, specifically as a component of hydroxyapatite, a crystalline structure in your bones. Furthermore, low levels of magnesium10 can impact the activity of your parathyroid hormone, which is intimately involved in bone health.

Some foods high in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, spinach, almonds, and cashews.  

Vitamin K2 

Vitamin K2 ensures that calcium is deposited in your bones11 and not in the soft tissues and blood vessel walls. Vitamin K can be found in a variety of green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli. 


Research shows that protein may support your bones in several ways, including parathyroid regulation and enhancing calcium absorption12

If you’re already getting substantial protein in your diet, great. However, some studies suggest that older people may need slightly more protein than the RDA13 to maintain strong bones (1.1 g/kg per day versus 0.8 g/kg per day) — so don’t skimp on this one.


Get Adequate Sleep

There are endless reasons why a good night of sleep should be a priority for anyone looking to maintain or improve health — and yes, BMD is one of them. 

Research shows that short sleep duration is associated with lower BMD and a higher risk of osteoporosis. How short is short? In one study, short sleep duration14 was defined as five hours per night or less. 

However, keep in mind that everyone’s body is different and restful sleep is often better assessed through how you feel versus the time on the clock. 
Exactly how sleep impacts BMD is unclear, but some research suggests that your sleep rhythms (circadian clock) may impact bone remodeling. Specifically, it appears that genes that regulate your sleep cycle may also impact the regulation of bone mass15.


Take a Daily Calcium Supplement

You already got the message that food plays a crucial role in bone density, but sometimes diet won’t always cut it. If you already have low BMD, taking a daily calcium supplement is one of the most important things you can do to turn your bone health around. 

But here’s the deal; not all calcium supplements are created equal. There are some crucial differences between standard calcium pills and well-formulated supplements. As you learned, there are several nutrients that promote bone health and assist in calcium absorption. These nutrients include magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, vitamin C, and magnesium. 

So keep an eye out for a supplement that not only contains calcium but also incorporates these essential helpers. 

Calcium supplement

Avoid Smoking and Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Several studies have shown a correlation between cigarette smoking and osteoporosis16. Although the reasons that smoking causes issues with bone health are unclear, the data suggest that if you want to keep your bones strong, put down the smokes.

Another vice to keep an eye on is alcohol consumption. Research shows that alcohol can interfere with calcium absorption,17 as well as the synthesis of vitamin D [14]. This is a double whammy for your bones, so keep an eye on how many glasses of wine you enjoy per week. The fewer, the better. 


It’s never fun getting less than optimal test results back. With that being said, in the case of bone mineral density, a poor reading doesn’t mean you’re destined for brittle bones. 

Get your bone health back on track by moving your body in a way that pushes you (without too much strain), make sleep a priority, focus on nutrient-dense foods, pick up a high-quality calcium supplement, and as best as you can, try to keep bone-dissolving vices like smoking and drinking at bay. 


  1. Vainionpää, A., Korpelainen, R., Leppäluoto, J. et al. Effects of high-impact exercise on bone mineral density: a randomized controlled trial in premenopausal women. Osteoporos Int 16, 191–197 (2005).
  2. Antonio Michel Aboarrage Junior, Cauê V. La Scala Teixeira, Rodrigo Nolasco dos Santos, Alexandre Fernades Machado, et al. Rejuvenation Research. Dec 2018. 535-540.
  3. Palombaro, Kerstin M PT, MS Effects of Walking-only Interventions on Bone Mineral Density at Various Skeletal Sites, Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: December 2005 – Volume 28 – Issue 3 – p 102-107
  4. Benedetti, Maria Grazia, et al. “The effectiveness of physical exercise on bone density in osteoporotic patients.” BioMed research international 2018 (2018).
  5. Zhao, R., Zhao, M. & Xu, Z. The effects of differing resistance training modes on the preservation of bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: a meta-analysis. Osteoporos Int 26, 1605–1618 (2015).
  6. Hardy, Rowan, and M. S. Cooper. “Bone loss in inflammatory disorders.” Journal of Endocrinology 201.3 (2009): 309-320.
  7. https://med.libretexts.org/Courses/Sacramento_City_College/SCC%3A_Nutri_300_(Coppola)/Text/8%3A_Water_and_Minerals/8.6%3A_Major_Minerals/8.6B%3A_Calcium
  8. Lips, Paul, and Natasja M. Van Schoor. “The effect of vitamin D on bone and osteoporosis.” Best practice & research Clinical endocrinology & metabolism 25.4 (2011): 585-591.
  9. Chin, Kok-Yong, and Soelaiman Ima-Nirwana. “Vitamin C and bone health: evidence from cell, animal and human studies.” Current drug targets 19.5 (2018): 439-450.
  10. Castiglioni, Sara, et al. “Magnesium and osteoporosis: current state of knowledge and future research directions.” Nutrients 5.8 (2013): 3022-3033.
  11. Maresz, Katarzyna. “Proper calcium use: vitamin K2 as a promoter of bone and cardiovascular health.” Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 14.1 (2015): 34.
  12. Mangano, Kelsey M., Shivani Sahni, and Jane E. Kerstetter. “Dietary protein is beneficial to bone health under conditions of adequate calcium intake: an update on clinical research.” Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care 17.1 (2014): 69.
  13. Wallace, Taylor C. “Optimizing dietary protein for lifelong bone health: a paradox unraveled.” Nutrition Today 54.3 (2019): 107-115.
  14. Ochs‐Balcom, Heather M., et al. “Short sleep is associated with low bone mineral density and osteoporosis in the women’s health initiative.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 35.2 (2020): 261-268.
  15. Swanson, Christine M., et al. “The importance of the circadian system & sleep for bone health.” Metabolism 84 (2018): 28-43.
  16. https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/osteoporosis/conditions-behaviors/bone-smoking#b
  17. https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/osteoporosis/conditions-behaviors/alcoholism#:~:text=The%20link%20between%20alcohol%20and%20osteoporosis,-Alcohol%20negatively%20affects&text=To%20begin%20with%2C%20excessive%20alcohol,vitamin%20essential%20for%20calcium%20absorption 

Article Comments

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  1. Judy

    July 10, 2022 , 7:40 am

    When taking AlgaeCal does one also take prescription drugs like bone medications?

  2. Chelsea Dugas

    July 11, 2022 , 1:35 pm

    Hi, Judy!
    AlgaeCal is not contraindicated with bone medications and provides the vitamins and minerals that are needed for healthy bones. That said, we always recommend speaking with your doctor or pharmacist, and we suggest bringing this information sheet to your next appointment. Please don’t hesitate to call our Bone Health Consultants at 1-800-820-0184 (USA & Canada, toll-free) if you have further questions or concerns!

    – Chelsea @ AlgaeCal

  3. Jennifer

    July 10, 2022 , 2:32 pm

    A great article, thank you! I am currently struggling to heal 3 recent compression fractures and have also discovered since my injuries that I have severe osteoporosis. I am making lifestyle changes and find this article to be very timely and helpful.

  4. Chelsea Dugas

    July 11, 2022 , 8:51 am

    We’re happy to hear you enjoyed the article, Jennifer! We also have a handy Bone Fracture Healing Guide that may be of help as well. Hoping you heal up quickly and feel better soon! 🙂

    – Chelsea for AlgaeCal

  5. Mahin

    July 11, 2022 , 4:48 pm

    Actually all of the articles that I received are very useful and so organized . This one also one of them.
    Thanks to Algaecal

  6. Dawn Holey

    September 3, 2022 , 10:19 am

    How much protein is recommended?

    I use OsteoStrong to put the amount of force necessary -4.2 multiples of body weight on your lower kinetic chain- to safely trigger bone growth. The results are amazing and take less than 15 minutes once a week.

  7. Chelsea Dugas

    September 7, 2022 , 11:32 am

    So happy you are seeing great results, Dawn! For calculating your daily protein intake needs, you can head over to THIS article. To your health!

    – Chelsea @ AlgaeCal

  8. Rufinita Martinez

    December 10, 2022 , 6:38 am

    I recently found out that I have iron overload in my blood so I need to stop taking vitamin c and any supplements that have vitamin c and avoid food that absorbs the iron in foods, what are you suggesting I can do ?

  9. Brianne AlgaeCal

    December 13, 2022 , 10:05 am

    Hello Rufinita,

    Thank you for your comment! I am so sorry to hear what you are experiencing. If you have never considered working with a Functional Medicine Practitioner, they may be able to help dive deeper into your situation to determine the root cause for this issue, and the best course of action to help! To find a practitioner in your area, click HERE!

    Please reach out to us at 1-800-820-0184 for any additional questions!

    I hope this helps!

    – Brianne @ AlgaeCal

  10. Novalene Greaves

    December 11, 2022 , 6:27 am

    In October 2022 I was having pain in different parts of my body. I was going to the doctors and their didn’t know what it was. I changed my GYN Doctor and he send me to get a bone destined test. The results return that I had Osteoporosis, so I started researching it on internet and I took a quiz and it says to take these vitamins. After take the pills for almost a month, I no more pain . Thank you

  11. Chelsea Dugas

    December 13, 2022 , 12:23 pm

    Novalene – we are so elated to hear that you are pain-free! Congrats! Please feel free to contact our Bone Health Consultants 7 days a week at 1-800-820-0184 (USA & Canada, toll-free) or email [email protected] for more information and personalized support! 🙂

    – Chelsea @ AlgaeCal

  12. Ashley

    December 11, 2022 , 7:42 am

    i have read elsewhere that calcium/D3 and K2 and magnesium should be taken separately.
    Is this not necessary? Thank you for your great information.

  13. Chelsea Dugas

    December 14, 2022 , 11:44 am

    This is a great question, Ashley! We aren’t aware of any interactions that would require someone to separate D3 and K2 from calcium. While it’s often thought that magnesium and calcium should be separated, we checked in with the author of Your Bones, Lara Pizzorno – who has been specializing in both health for 30+ years. She shared a few articles supporting that calcium and magnesium use different transport mechanisms during absorption. Magnesium is absorbed primarily through passive diffusion whereas calcium absorption is largely dependent on active transport with the help of vitamin D. THIS paper discusses magnesium absorption while THIS one goes over calcium absorption. Hoping this helps clarify things and don’t hesitate to let us know if you have further questions! 🙂

    – Chelsea @ AlgaeCal

  14. Ruthie

    April 10, 2023 , 4:01 pm

    Hi, I enjoy reading everyone comment and hoped there were something to help me to decide on whether to begin the Prolia shots or start exercising and eating foods that will help slow down further bone lose. I don’t take many prescriptions so I was hoping to seek other help other than shots.

  15. Brianne AlgaeCal

    April 11, 2023 , 7:39 am

    Hello Ruthie,

    We’re so sorry you are struggling with this decision, however it would be best to speak more with your medical professionals to determine if the medication is right for you. If you are interested in a safe, natural approach to supporting your bones and building bone density, then diet and exercise is certainly a great start, and you can find some great learning resources for this on our blog! 🙂

    In addition to this, AlgaeCal is the only calcium supplement that is clinically researched and supported to increase bone density! Again, this is a safe, natural approach that is clinically supported! The most recent study lasted for 7 years and demonstrated consistent, linear increases year after year. As a result of these findings, AlgaeCal is the only calcium supplement verified by Health Canada to “help to increase/improve bone mineral density.” To review all the research, visit our website HERE! Beyond the studies, we have many customer success stories with before and after DEXA scans that you can take a look at HERE! 🙂

    I hope this is helpful! Please reach out to us at 1-800-820-0184 (USA & Canada toll-free) if you have any questions!

    – Brianne @ AlgaeCal

  16. Betty York

    August 8, 2023 , 6:40 pm

    Wonderful information on bone health

  17. Manja AlgaeCal

    August 9, 2023 , 12:16 pm

    We’re happy to hear you find it helpful, Betty! We hope you’ll explore our blog for more helpful articles, free nutrition information, yummy recipes, and exercises for stronger bones. And please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions – we are always here to help!

    – Manja

  18. Barb Antinoro

    August 20, 2023 , 8:26 pm

    What would you consider a high calcium supplement right now I take life extension vitamins. I take two calcium supplements a day that melt in your mouth which I think gives me 700 mg of calcium. Is that a good one or do you have a better one that I should be taking? Also, how much of it should I take?

  19. Samantha AlgaeCal

    August 21, 2023 , 11:16 am

    Great question, Barb! We recommend taking our AlgaeCal Plus formulation. AlgaeCal is a whole food source of calcium with a wide variety of naturally occurring trace minerals, plus added vitamins D3, K2, C, and boron. This perfect balance of vitamins and minerals all work together to direct calcium into our bones! In addition, AlgaeCal is the only calcium supplement shown to increase bone density in clinical research – and it’s easy to digest! AlgaeCal Plus provides 720 mg of plant-based calcium and the average diet provides another 500 mg. This means that you’ll reach the recommended 1200mg of calcium each day, all through whole food sources! I hope this information helps. 🙂
    – Sam

  20. Bridget Martin

    November 11, 2023 , 12:39 pm

    The research in this article encourages me and, most importantly, is a reminder of where I must be diligent.

  21. Yoori AlgaeCal

    November 14, 2023 , 2:18 pm

    I’m glad to hear that the research resonated with you, Bridget! 🙂

    – Yoori

  22. Kiros Tessema

    February 9, 2024 , 7:00 pm

    Very informative. Best article ever. keep it up.
    Thank you

  23. Yoori AlgaeCal

    February 12, 2024 , 2:26 pm

    Thanks so much for your comment, Kiros! We’re so happy you have found this article helpful! 🙂

    – Yoori

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,