Osteopenia Diet – What Is It and What Foods to Avoid?

Osteopenia is a health condition that starts when you lose bone mass and get weaker bones. It happens when the inner bones become brittle from calcium loss. It is a common health problem with aging. The complete bone mass peaks when you reach 35. People who get osteopenia are at a higher risk of getting osteoporosis.

Causes of Osteopenia

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Osteopenia has different causes. The first cause is failure to reach a person’s peak bone mass, which is the highest amount of bone an individual is genetically programmed to develop in her lifetime. Peak bone mass is generally reached by age of 20 in males and 30 in females. The second cause is bone loss once an individual reaches peak bone mass. Some diseases stop calcium from being absorbed into the bone, including inflammatory bowel problems. Celiac disease, and eating troubles, may keep youngsters from getting their peak bone mass. Genetic factors, like osteoporosis or predisposition, can also make someone with comparatively low bone density. Also, some medicines and lifestyle habits like drinking, smoking, and more alcohol can negatively strike bone mass accrual.

On the other hand, a spectrum is a person who has healthy bone mass but losing it. It happens when you are aging, menopause (when losing estrogen). Osteopenia in this female may reach a nadir before the bone loss gets osteoporosis.

Symptoms of Osteopenia

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Osteoporosis and Osteopenia do not lead to mobility issues or pain on their own. It makes it difficult to understand if a person has either condition. A typical sign is height loss. Most people lose a percentage of one inch of height as they age from their peak adult height, but getting more loss is a sign of an underlying bone quality problem. Broken bones or fractures are the main sign that there may be skeletal bone irregularity. If an adult above 50 falls from a standing height and breaks a bone density test should be performed to screen for osteoporosis and osteopenia. Even those people experiencing osteopenia can be at fractures risk.


Diagnosing Osteopenia

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The best way to have a diagnosis of osteopenia is by testing bone density. This test uses low-energy x-rays to check the calcium content of an individual’s bones and compare it to that of both healthy adults (t-score) and people of a similar age and gender (z-score). Most commonly, bone density tests examine the lumbar spine, wrist, and hips.


Osteopenia: Prevention and Treatment

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It is not possible to stop osteopenia. Some individuals are genetically predisposed to get low bone density. But even for them, working out and getting sufficient dietary calcium during the childhood, adolescent, and young adult years is essential. For females, making sure they are menstruating normally is an important sign that they make sufficient estrogen, which is a hormone necessary to bone health.

Limiting alcohol and cigarettes is also necessary for developing and managing strong bones.

Once people age at which they reach their peak bone mass, around 20 for females and 30 for females, a healthy, and calcium-rich diet is still necessary. Weight-bearing workouts like walking, running, and weightlifting can also help to manage muscle and bone strength.

Even if you cannot stop osteopenia, you may be able to prevent it from turning into osteoporosis. Keeping yourself active and doing a weight-bearing workout is important. Hormone therapy within 10-years of the final menstrual period has been clinically proven to stop osteoporosis and lower fracture risk. The use of hormone therapy strictly for osteoporosis and bone health prevention is FDA approved.

Follow-up bone density testing can also help to assure osteopenia is managed appropriately. If a bone density test indicates osteopenia, the test should be repeated for 2-years to monitor for changes and make for intervention before the situation deteriorates further.

Treatments for osteopenia depend on an individual. The first step is to get if the individual is at high risk for fracture, in which some bone health medication is prescribed to stop bone breakdown and develop the skeleton back up as much as possible.

For everyone with osteopenia, eating foods with rich calcium is necessary, adding some dairy products, dark green leafy, fish, and vegetables. Vitamin D is also essential, but it is harder to get from diet. A vitamin D supplement can help.


How Diet Influences Osteopenia

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Osteopenia is a step before osteoporosis sets. It is not a health problem. How an individual falls prey to osteopenia is largely determined by the food. Eating a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium, doing weight-bearing workouts to strengthen the bones, and skipping foods that affect the absorptions of calcium will help bone density.

According to health experts, since the last century, people have changed from dairy products, vegetables, and fruits to more grains, meats, and processed foods.


Osteopenia: Sample Diet Plan

Early Morning

Drink one glass of warm water with one tablespoon of honey. 

Breakfast: Options

Eat calcium-fortified protein powder and milk

or toast with a poached egg.

Lunch: Options

Baked salmon or collard greens salad

Figs, spinach, and ricotta cheese salad

Post Lunch:

1-cup yogurt

Evening Snack

Eat calcium-fortified orange juice or 4-almonds.

Dinner: Options

Eat veggies and grilled sardines

Broccoli soup

Eat carrot, beetroot, cottage cheese, peas, with 2-wheat flour flatbread.

Bed Time

Consume 1-glass of warm milk

Why This Works?

The foods given in this sample diet provide rich calcium, vitamin K, vitamin D, and other micronutrients. Ideally, it would help to stick with homemade foods. One glass of milk before bedtime will not prevent osteopenia but help with sound sleep.


Foods To Eat

Osteopenia: Sample Diet – Foods To Eat

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The everyday consumption of food can be categorized as acidic and alkaline. The following foods may help to reverse bone loss and benefits calcium in the bones:

  • Sardines with bones
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Tofu processed (with calcium salts)
  • Collard greens
  • Milk (Choose soy milk if you are lactose intolerant)
  • Navy beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Broccoli
  • Orange juice (fortified with calcium)
  • Turnip greens
  • Dried figs
  • Kale
  • Spinach

Even though this food provides rich calcium, vitamin D is also important for the body. You can have adequate vitamin D from sunlight and foods containing rich sunshine vitamins. Spend your 10 minutes in sunlight with your skin exposed.

Get only early morning sunlight for the body to take vitamin D. During winter time eats foods rich in vitamin D to prevent its deficiency. Adding egg yolks, cheese, cereals, and orange juice with vitamin D should be included in the diet.


Foods To Avoid

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Here is the food that interferes with the absorption of calcium. Oxalates and phytates have the potential to do this, therefore combine such foods with calcium-rich foods.

For example, do not combine cheese with spinach or beans as it has oxalate. Sweet potatoes, spinach, and beans provide oxalate, while nuts, whole wheat bran, and beans are high with phytates. Also, stop drinking soda or coffee as they consist of caffeine that interferes with calcium absorption. Drink coffee other times than breakfast. For example, have breakfast and wait for one hour to drink coffee.

Osteoporosis: 7-Day Diet Plan

Here is another diet plan of 7-days for Osteoporosis. Always take your physician’s advice before starting any diet plan.


Day 1

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Consume 8-ounce of orange juice containing vitamin D and calcium.

Have one cup of a whole-grain cereal rich in vitamin D.

4 ounces milk


Eat 2.5 ounces of ground beef (extra lean) with a whole-grain bun, which may also include one slice of non-fat American cheese, two red tomato slices, and one lettuce leaf, and two red tomato slices.

Eat a salad with one hard-boiled egg and two tbsp. Use olive oil dressing with 8-ounces of whole milk rich in calcium and almond milk without sugar.


  • Eat one orange
  • Have calcium and protein-rich snack with greek yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese.


  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 2.5-ounce chicken breast
  • Eat 2-slices French bread and one tsp butter Or 3/4 cup rice
  • Eat one cup of strawberries and two tbsp. yogurt or whipped cream.


Day 2

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  • Eat one slice of whole-grain toast with avocado or peanut butter.
  • 1 apple
  • Eat eight ounces of calcium-rich orange juice or 4-ounces milk.


  • vegetarian chili
  • Eat salad and one hard-boiled egg.
  • Eat ricotta, frozen yogurt, or cottage cheese


  • Eat sliced fruit or berries with yogurt


Eat pasta primavera with grilled chicken, whole grain pasta, yellow squash, carrots, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes, with olive oil dressing.

Eat tomato salad, avocado, and cucumber.

Have raspberries with frozen yogurt.


Day 3

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Eat slow-cooked oatmeal made with milk and added nuts.


Eat a falafel pita sandwich with lettuce, cucumber, and tomato

Have one slice of watermelon


Eat one apple, orange, banana, or one serving of strawberries

or yogurt with almond, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, or cheese stick.


Eat a fajita burrito with lean steak, or chicken, onions with whole-grain tortilla, or bell peppers.

Cabbage or green salad topped with avocado or cheese.


Day 4

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Eat scrambled tofu with vegetables like sugar snap peas, spinach, and bell peppers.

Eat oven-roasted potatoes with shredded cheese sprinkle.


Eat whole wheat wrap with grated carrots, red pepper hummus, and tomato.

Eat one apple or banana


Eat fruit smoothie mixed with milk, yogurt, non-dairy substitute like soy with rich calcium.


Eat grilled chicken sauteed with asparagus, zucchini, and mushrooms

Corn on the cob


Day 5

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Eat one small banana

4-ounces of soy milk

Eat sliced strawberries with wholegrain cereal


Have Thai soup with mushrooms, spinach, and protein either with chicken or tofu, or shrimp.

Bean dip and carrot with celery or carrots for dipping

Green salad with basil and tomatoes.


Eat greek yogurt parfait with nuts, and chopped fruits.


Eat whole-grain spaghetti or chickpea pasta with shrimp, or grilled chicken, or lead ground turkeys with vegetables like grated carrots, chopped onions, and diced broccoli.

Eat calcium-rich desserts like pudding with milk, frozen yogurt, or ricotta

sprinkled with honey.


Day 6

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Eat whole-grain pancakes with cottage cheese or yogurt and fresh fruit topping.

Eat one small and low sodium veggies or sausage of lean turkey

Eat 4 ounces milk or calcium-rich orange juice


Eat bean or vegetable soup with dollop greek yogurt, or shredded cheese, or sour cream.

Eat corn salad and black bean with red peppers

Eat one orange, banana, or one apple


Eat low-fat cheese – 4 cubes

Eat whole-grain crisps or crackers


Whole wheat lasagna with spinach and low-fat cheese

Eat a green salad with any vegetables you like


Day 7

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Eat quiche or omelet with tomato, cheese, spinach, and other vegetables

Eat eight ounces of milk or juice


Eat whole-grain bun burger with 4-6 ounce salmon

Eat roasted broccoli, cabbage slaw, green salad


Eat some unsalted almonds

Have milk pudding or rice pudding with low-fat milk


Eat nachos with a topping of avocado, kidney beans, and low-fat cheese

Have Greek salad and feta cheese


Role Of Exercise

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Osteoporosis causes lower bone mass, which may lead to osteoporosis if a decent diet and exercise routine are not followed. If you are diagnosed with osteopenia, take your fitness expert advice to understand how to train your bones to develop bone mass without any injury.

The best workout to improve your bones strength and bone mass are running, stairs running, walking, biking, weight-bearing, push-ups, yoga, and squats with weight.



Stay Active

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Keep yourself active to prevent diseases. Regular exercise helps to increase your metabolism rate, which in turn benefits your complete health. Like this, you can prevent bone and muscle loss, heart disease, eye problems, digestion problems, and skin disorders.

Eat Healthily

Eating healthy makes your body happy when you consume healthily and offer it with enough amount of minerals, vitamins, protein, carbs, fats. The body responds likewise and keeps you energetic. Concentration improves, you will add extra fat and also increase immunity. Consuming green leafy vegetables and protein and reduce processed foods consumption.

Avoid Stress

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Stress causes harmful oxygen radical formation. Oxygen radicals affect the fats, DNA, and proteins in the body. Therefore, stress may induce a host of health problems that will cause weakness. Skip stressful situations, listen to your favorite music, get some me time, and join a hobby class. These small changes help to de-stress you.

Get Good Sleep

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After doing a workout for bone strength, your body needs enough rest to recover and restore. It is important to take 7-8 hours of sleep to improve health.

This diet plan was taken from recommendations from the Academy-of-Nutrition-and-Dietetics, in the book “Building Bone Vitality: A new diet plant to stop bone loss and the managing osteoporosis, and the  International-Osteoporosis-Foundation, which provide many bone-friendly recipes.


Benefits Of Osteopenia Diet

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  • Increase bone mass and strength
  • Improves immunity.

Dos & Don’ts


eat foods rich in vitamin D and calcium

Do regular workout

Get sun exposure daily for 10 minutes in the mornings.

Talk to your doctor before taking up the diet plan. Avoid straining yourself.


Avoid processed foods

Avoid lazy lifestyle

Do not awake later at night


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