Minerals like calcium give bones their hardness, but it’s protein that forms its underlying structural matrix.
For many years, researchers thought that high-protein diets could deplete the bones of calcium, but a major review published in June 2017 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that there is little evidence for this. (4)
Just how much protein is optimal for bone health is still being debated, says Lappe: “I usually just stick with recommended levels, and I don’t think people need protein supplements.”
Most Americans get enough protein, but Planells says that as people get older, it’s common for their protein intake to decrease.
“Your goal is to get at least 15 grams of protein every time you eat,” he says. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products are obvious sources. But he also points to affordable and convenient plant sources, like beans, nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, and sunflower seeds.