Foods to Heal Broken Bones Faster - Ask a Nutritionist

December 28, 2023

This episode of Ask a Nutritionist on Dishing Up Nutrition answers the question of how your diet can dramatically impact the healing process of broken bones. We're diving deep into the world of nutrition to explore which foods and supplements can accelerate healing and strengthen your bones. From the power of protein to the magic of minerals, get ready to be enlightened with practical, science-backed nutritional advice. Don't miss this opportunity to learn how the right food choices can not only nourish your body but also aid in a quicker, more efficient recovery.

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BRITNI: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition's “Ask a Nutritionist” podcast, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. We are thrilled to be celebrating 20 years on air, discussing the connection between what you eat and how you feel while sharing practical, real life solutions for healthier living through balanced nutrition.

Thank you so much for your support and listenership over the years. Now let's get started on today's question. The question today is, “What foods help broken bones heal well and quickly?”

Eat real, whole foods to heal broken bones

So, when we think big picture, I would recommend eating as much real whole foods as possible, really limiting or eliminating the processed foods.

Adequate protein intake: essential for bone health

And diving into the specifics, the first thing that I think of is protein. Adequate protein intake is essential for bone health. As protein makes up a large portion of our bone mass and our volume in our bones, creating the structural framework for mineralization in the bones. And protein needs actually increase during times of healing and stress.

So I would recommend actually increasing the amount of protein that you're eating. For women, if you could get five or even six ounces at a meal, and that would be after it's cooked. Men, I would say six or even better: seven ounces at a meal just while your body is healing. And when I am talking about protein, the sources would be meat, fish, eggs, dairy, if tolerated.

If you're able to purchase organic, grass-fed beef, pasture raised or free range turkey, chicken, eggs, those would be ideal because they are going to be more nutrient dense. And dietary protein is a natural source of collagen as well. That's another benefit that I'm going to elaborate more on in a minute.

And all of these protein sources that I'm talking about are also iron rich. And iron helps your body to make collagen and rebuild bone. Also, it's going to play a part in carrying oxygen into your bones to help them to heal.

Collagen: great for bone support

So more on collagen. It is the most prevalent type of protein in our body. 90 percent of the bone matrix is made of collagen. So this is really critical to healing a bone and healing it quicker and just for general bone health. Sources of collagen other than eating dietary protein that I mentioned: bone broth is a wonderful source. There was another “Ask a Nutritionist” episode that played in November talking all about bone broth. So I would encourage you to check that out.

We do have a recipe and a video to make your own bone broth at home. And if you could drink a cup of that every day, that would really help to support your bones’ healing. Collagen powder like Key Collagen would also be a great addition. It's easy to mix in coffee or tea. It dissolves easily. Or you could throw it into a protein shake as well or even a bowl of soup that you're eating.

Minerals: critical for healing bones

Minerals are also going to be critical for healing your bones. And just overall for healthy bones, yes, definitely calcium, but magnesium is just as important for a healthy bone. So calcium, we hear a lot about that and the importance of bone health. It's an essential component of our skeleton and it's critical for healthy bones and bone healing.

So some dietary sources, kale, spinach, arugula, broccoli, some nuts, sardines with the bones, dairy, if you tolerate it, like yogurt, kefir, cheese. And to get the benefit of calcium, you do need enough magnesium on board. So, magnesium and calcium, the metabolism of them are actually very interconnected and magnesium is required for calcium absorption and utilization in the bones and just overall in the body.

So magnesium deficiency could actually contribute to a calcium deficiency in the body. Magnesium rich foods, leafy greens, I also noted those as being a source of calcium; seeds such as flax, chia, pumpkin seeds, grass fed beef, avocados, those would all be great sources of magnesium.

Vitamin D plays a critical role in bone health

Vitamin D plays a really critical role in bone health in general, but we need vitamin D for calcium absorption and utilization. It helps to regulate calcium levels in the blood and can bring that calcium into the bones. The primary source of vitamin D is going to be sunlight. We can also get a little bit from fatty fish like salmon or mackerel, pasture raised or free range egg yolks. And most of us really do need to rely on a vitamin D supplement.

So I often recommend in the winter time four to 5,000 international units of vitamin D3. In the summertime, a lot of people benefit from just continuing that dosage. It's always a great idea to get your levels checked. Optimally, we want to be between 50 and 80.

If you are out in the sun more often in the summer, maybe 2,000 to 3,000 international units would be sufficient. But again, especially in the case of a broken bone, if you could get that vitamin D tested, that would be ideal. When you're looking at vitamin D supplement, I would recommend looking for one with vitamin K2 in it.

Vitamin K2 ensures the calcium gets into the bones and teeth and stays out of our soft tissue in our body. It also helps with vitamin D absorption and binding that calcium to our bone matrix.

Other supplements to consider to assist in healing a broken bone

Other supplements to think about during this time of healing a broken bone: Key Osteo and generally we recommend that supplement for somebody that has osteopenia or osteoporosis, but using it for a short period of time while your broken bone is healing can be really, really helpful because it's basically got all the vitamins and minerals to build healthy bone.

It also doubles as a multivitamin because it does have so many wonderful things in there. And when you purchase it, there is an a.m. packet and a p.m. packet. You do want to take those eight hours apart from each other, and that would be a great healing addition to the food that we've been talking about.

Again, I just mentioned a vitamin D3 with K2 supplement, and then the collagen powder can also be wonderful in helping to heal that bone. And we have had clients that have been able to heal their broken bones a lot faster and their doctors are impressed by eating this way and including some of these key supplements.


So in summary, to heal a broken bone and heal it faster, I would recommend a real whole food diet, increase your protein intake, get some collagen. Again, you're going to get that from the dietary protein, but also including some bone broth would be great. And even some collagen powder into the mix.

Getting a variety of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and getting a lot of vegetables on board: you're going to get many of those minerals that I mentioned and also key vitamins and that's going to help to support your bones. And then consider those supplements that I mentioned as well.

Well, I hope that I provided you some guidelines in case you do have a broken bone, you'll know how to heal that faster. And I encourage you to join our Dishing Up Nutrition Facebook community if you haven't already. Search Dishing Up Nutrition on Facebook.

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