Osteoporosis International

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 771–786 | Cite as

Skeletal effects of nutrients and nutraceuticals, beyond calcium and vitamin D

  • J. W. NievesEmail author


There is a need to understand the role of nutrition, beyond calcium and vitamin D, in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis in adults. Results regarding soy compounds on bone density and bone turnover are inconclusive perhaps due to differences in dose and composition or in study population characteristics. The skeletal benefit of black cohosh and red clover are unknown. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) use may benefit elderly individuals with low serum dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate levels, but even in this group, there are inconsistent benefits to bone density (BMD). Higher fruit and vegetable intakes may relate to higher BMD. The skeletal benefit of flavonoids, carotenoids, omega-3-fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, E and K are limited to observational data or a few clinical trials, in some cases investigating pharmacologic doses. Given limited data, it would be better to get these nutrients from fruits and vegetables. Potassium bicarbonate may improve calcium homeostasis but with little impact on bone loss. High homocysteine may relate to fracture risk, but the skeletal benefit of each B vitamin is unclear. Magnesium supplementation is likely only required in persons with low magnesium levels. Data are very limited for the role of nutritional levels of boron, strontium, silicon and phosphorus in bone health. A nutrient rich diet with adequate fruits and vegetables will generally meet skeletal needs in healthy individuals. For most healthy adults, supplementation with nutrients other than calcium and vitamin D may not be required, except in those with chronic disease and the frail elderly.


Bone density Fractures Minerals Nutraceuticals Nutrition Vitamins 


Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyMailman School of Public Health, Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Clinical Research CenterHelen Hayes HospitalNew YorkUSA

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