A Few PRUNES a Day Keep Osteoporosis Away?

Published: July 10, 2017
Updated: April 29, 2020

prunes and osteoporosis

If you have low bone density or worry about your bone health, you’ll want to know about this wonder fruit.

You may know it as the main ingredient in an “old person’s” juice, but it’s got a lot more going for it than you may think!

I’m talking about prunes… which are just dried plums.

Prunes are bursting with antioxidants like polyphenols, vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber. They’re great at killing free radicals that attack your cells, which means they’re helpful to your bones too.

Prunes and osteoporosis

Dr. Bahram Arjmandi – Chairman of the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at Florida State University – has had a keen interest in prunes for years now. (Especially since his research team found a promising link between prunes and bone density back in 2011.)

Arjmandi had studied many fruits to that point– in hopes he’d find the best ones for healthy bones. And the findings he got from the 2011 study in the British Journal of Nutrition led him to say:

Over my career, I have tested numerous fruits, including figs, dates, strawberries, and raisins, and none of them come anywhere close to having the effect on bone density that dried plums, or prunes, have.

Why the high praise?

Dr. Arjmandi and his team studied two groups of osteopenic postmenopausal women over 12 months. The first group had 55 women. They consumed 100 grams of prunes (about 10 prunes) each day. The second group of 45 women consumed 75 grams of dried apples each day. All 100 women also took 500 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D each day.

The result? After 1 year the prune group had “significantly” higher bone mineral density (BMD) in the ulna (a forearm bone) and the lumbar spine, compared to the dried apple group.

Arjmandi found the prunes helped decrease bone resorption rate. Basically, the prunes slowed down bone loss that naturally occurs with aging.

Again, these findings came from consuming about 10 prunes each day. Fast forward to today, and the news may be even better…

First, Arjmandi and company ran a 6-month trial seeing the effects of 50g and 100g of prunes on postmenopausal bone loss. Turns out, the lower dose (4-5 prunes) was about as effective as the double dose (10 prunes) in preserving bone.

That means you may be able to protect total body BMD with half the amount of prunes as before!

Second, Arjmandi and company created a follow-up study from the 2011 group of women– five years after their initial study. The scientists wanted to know if the prune group were able to maintain their higher BMD scores compared with the dried apple control group.

(It’s important to note that of the 20 women who participated in this new 2016 study, none of them regularly consumed prunes in the 5 years since.)

8 of the 20 women were in 2011’s prune group. And as it turned out, these 8 women did indeed show higher ulna and lumbar spine BMD compared to their dried apple counterparts!

True, the study didn’t take into effect other diet and lifestyle factors. But Arjmandi’s group was encouraged with the difference that prunes alone seemed to make.

In fact, the results of their study and those from their peers led Arjmandi to say prunes are a:

“… functional food therapy for preventing bone loss in postmenopausal women, with the potential for long-lasting bone-protective effects.

So… break out the prune juice, right?

Well, that may be a great idea. But before you do, it’s important to know the “why” behind the prune’s bone-friendly results.

Science can’t guarantee which nutrients specifically contribute to the BMD differences. But… several compounds in the prune protect bone density on their own.

One of these compounds is boron. Boron is a natural trace mineral in the soil and in many foods. It’s a bone-builder and strengthener… and is especially helpful if you’re low in vitamin D!

Prunes happen to have higher amounts of boron than most fruits: 1.18mg in every 100g. In comparison, here’s the amount of boron in 100g of the following common fruits: 

  • Dates (4, pitted): 1.08mg
  • Oranges (1, small): 0.52mg
  • Apples (1 cup of slices): 0.32mg

oranges for boron

What’s more, prunes have another 2 of the 13 trace minerals your bones need: copper and potassium.

Better still, prunes also contain vitamin K1. Vitamin K1 is anti-inflammatory and thus helpful because it helps prevent excessive osteoclast ( a type of bone cell that breaks down bone tissue) activation. K2, on the other hand, is the form that helps regulate your calcium levels. Think of vitamin K2 like a “recycling plant” for calcium: it brings calcium into your bones while filtering it out of your arteries, where it isn’t needed. This form isn’t in prunes, but we’ll tell you how to get it a little later….

Then there’s the soluble and insoluble fibers inside prunes, like pectin, fructans, and cellulose. These fibers help your bones absorb the minerals they need to stay dense.

As you can see, all these vitamins and minerals work together like a construction-crew for your bones! Each has their own role in creating the foundation and supporting parts of healthy bone.

To put the “cherry on top” of the prune… Arjmandi and co. have shown the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers of prunesPrunes have impressive free radical absorbing abilities, when compared with many popular fruits and veggies.

So, if you’re already a fan of prunes great! Your task should be an enjoyable one. Try to choose prunes without added sugar or preservatives. (And just a note: prunes are a natural laxative, so while too many may cause diarrhea, 4-5 prunes per day which was discussed in the study shouldn’t cause this effect in individuals with healthy bowels.)

Now, if you don’t like prunes, and are looking for a guaranteed way to safely increase your bone density, won’t you try AlgaeCal Plus? It’s risk-free to try it for an entire year.

AlgaeCal Plus contains plenty of boron (3 mg/day). It has a full daily dose of vitamin K2-7 (the most potent form of vitamin K2). And it also has copper, potassium and the other 10 trace minerals we haven’t even mentioned here!

It’s all part of a rare plant-based calcium harvested off the shores of South America. And when it comes to bone density, it’s changed tens of thousands of lives for the better.

Get more details on this page here.

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Did you see all the bone-building evidence in prunes’ favor? If you don’t mind eating prunes, I think adding a few to your daily routine is wise. It’s time this wonder fruit gets its due… especially if you’re concerned about your bone density.

If you’re not a prune fan- or you prefer “sure things” to maybes- read about the world’s only superfood calcium source guaranteed to increase your bone density.

Article Comments

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  1. Dr EJ LANGSETH

    July 27, 2017 , 11:07 pm

    Giving readers a practical range of fresh foods v. liquids is a nice change to the usual.

  2. Monica

    July 28, 2017 , 8:06 am

    Hi Dr. Langseth,

    Thanks for the feedback! That’s a great suggestion that we’ll keep in mind.

    – Monica @ AlgaeCal

  3. Christine

    December 6, 2019 , 7:02 pm

    I pour hot water over organic prunes. Let cool . They don’t taste so sweet and a little evaporate mile. They are yummy

  4. Megan AlgaeCal

    December 10, 2019 , 11:19 am

    Great tip, Christine!

    Thanks for sharing with us ?

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  5. Lila

    October 23, 2017 , 10:47 am

    I have read other articles stating much the same and I would like to know that the addition of prunes to my diet will, indeed, improve my bone density. I do have a question, though. Does the author of this article or AlgaeCal have any connection to the prune industry? Often claims such as this are based on studies performed solely by the industry stand to benefit from the public’s belief in it. If not, it is great news, indeed!
    Thank you!

  6. Monica

    October 23, 2017 , 11:26 am

    Hi Lila,

    Great question! AlgaeCal does not have any interests in the plum industry. However, after checking both studies (the initial and follow-up) I have found this:

    2011 study: The U.S. Department of Agriculture funded Arjmandi’s research. The California Dried Plum Board provided the dried plums for the study, as well as some funding to measure markers of oxidative stress.

    2017 Study: This was funded in part by the California Dried Plum Board and the United States Department of Agriculture. The authors declared no conflict of interest.

    Hope that helps!

    – Monica

  7. Lida Koronewskij

    October 27, 2018 , 3:16 pm

    Hello Monica, Thank you for your article. I like prunes but find them so sweet, along with dates, in fact all fruits, except blueberries-my favorite. For someone to curb that sweet tooth it’s almost impossible with such high fructose.
    Lida

  8. Janice Colston

    April 24, 2019 , 5:56 pm

    Is drinking prune juice as effective as eating dried prunes?

  9. Jenna AlgaeCal

    April 29, 2019 , 4:00 pm

    Good question, Janice. Dried prunes have a much higher fiber content than prune juice — and the fibers in prunes help your bones absorb the minerals they need to stay dense! You may still get some benefit from prune juice, but your best bet is eating dried prunes.

    – Jenna @ AlgaeCal

  10. Jayne

    June 1, 2019 , 12:15 pm

    I put 2-3 prunes in my oatmeal for breakfast. The prunes are packaged with with potassium sorbate. Am I getting rid of the preservative by rinsing them?

  11. Blaire AlgaeCal

    November 13, 2019 , 11:34 am

    Hi Jayne,

    Thanks for reaching out!

    While rinsing them might reduce the amount of potassium sorbate on your prunes, there may still be some residue left. If possible, we do recommend finding ones without potassium sorbate or any other preservatives. For prunes that do not contain preservatives, check out this brand. ?

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

  12. Maria

    November 13, 2019 , 7:59 am

    Hi
    Are fresh prune good too?

  13. Blaire AlgaeCal

    November 13, 2019 , 11:37 am

    Hi Maria,

    Plums are definitely healthy as well; however, we do recommend eating prunes as these are more nutrient-dense. 🙂

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

  14. Bsher

    July 23, 2020 , 9:54 pm

    Hi, thanks for your useful article and for your answers. Any advise please when to take these 4-5 purnes?

    Like it’s better to take them at the same time? In the morning, before meal..?

    Would be grateful if you have any advice. Thank you very much again,

  15. Megan AlgaeCal

    July 24, 2020 , 11:08 am

    Hi Bsher!

    You can eat the prunes at any time that best fits into your schedule. You may want to start with 2-3 prunes a day before progressing to 4-5. Sometimes adding a lot of fiber at once can affect bowel habits. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids as well whenever you’re increasing fiber intake 🙂

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  16. Bsher

    July 25, 2020 , 2:52 am

    Thank you for your response and for the advice,

  17. Laura Theis

    December 5, 2020 , 6:55 pm

    Great info on prunes! Gonna eat them for sure now that I read nature’s bone building fruit thank you much ?

  18. Blaire AlgaeCal

    December 7, 2020 , 3:31 pm

    So glad to hear you’re going to eat more prunes now, Laura! ?

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

  19. Beth

    March 18, 2021 , 8:32 am

    Interesting and informing article. It just so happens that I recently bought some Newman’s Own organic prunes and am definitely going to add them to my morning repertoire. I have osteoporosis but do not want to go the drug route so I have been making my own raw milk kefir, raw yogurt, and raw cultured butter, as well as drinking 3-4 glasses of raw milk daily. Hopefully, all these will help show an improvement in my next bone density test. Thank you for a great article.

  20. Blaire AlgaeCal

    March 19, 2021 , 9:28 am

    We’re so glad you found this article helpful, Beth! Please do keep us updated on how your next DEXA scan goes ❤️

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

  21. BARBARA ANN RAY

    October 4, 2021 , 1:02 pm

    Do you need to stop taking a multivitamin and vitamin D3 when you start taking Algaecal.

  22. Kirby Johnson

    October 7, 2021 , 3:23 pm

    Hi Barbara,

    Great question! The short answer is: it depends. If your multivitamin includes a high concentration of calcium, we usually suggest looking for an alternative supplement (which ideally wouldn’t exceed 150 mg of calcium). And vitamin D3 requirements tend to vary between individuals, but you may benefit from additional vitamin D3 depending on your current vitamin D3 blood levels. You can learn more about testing and additional supplementation recommendations HERE. AlgaeCal Plus includes a maintenance dose of vitamin D3 levels, but it’s important to know your vitamin D3 blood levels in order to get in the optimal range for bone building. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

    – Kirby @ AlgaeCal

  23. Linda

    January 15, 2022 , 3:02 pm

    I buy non-sorbate prunes at Trader Joe’s.

  24. Kirby Johnson

    January 18, 2022 , 8:17 am

    Hi Linda,

    What a great way to naturally to support your bone health! Thanks so much for sharing!

    – Kirby @ AlgaeCal

  25. Penny

    February 3, 2022 , 11:01 am

    Great article, thanks. Question- I understand we can only absorb so much calcium at one time. If our, for example breakfast is particularly high in calcium should we take less AlgaeCal than we might otherwise?

  26. Kirby Johnson

    February 4, 2022 , 2:14 pm

    Penny,

    Fabulous question! Thank you so much for reaching out. The daily dosage (4 capsules) of calcium included in AlgaeCal Plus is 720mg and we always encourage our community members to eat a diet naturally rich in calcium to achieve a daily intake of ~1,200 mg. We’re happy to provide a resource for inspiration HERE. If you have any other questions or would like to discuss your specific circumstances further, please feel free to call us at 1-800-820-0184 (USA & Canada toll-free). Hope this helps!

    – Kirby @ AlgaeCal

  27. Phyllis Landis

    February 13, 2022 , 7:17 am

    Do organic prunes have potassium sorbate.

  28. Chelsea Dugas

    February 14, 2022 , 12:18 pm

    Hi Phyllis!

    Organic prunes are not supposed to contain potassium sorbate as it is a chemical additive, however, it is always best to read the labels on packaging first to be sure. Hope this helps! 🙂
    – Chelsea @ AlgaeCal

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

Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,
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, PhD - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Dr. Carole McArthur
MD, PhD - Professor of Immunology, Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City; Director of Residency Research in Pathology, Truman Medical Center.,