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Eating for Your Musculoskeletal System

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Eating for Your Musculoskeletal System

Your musculoskeletal system is made up of all the bones and muscles in your body. It is easy to understand that keeping this system healthy is essential if you want to be active, flexible, and pain free. What isn’t so obvious is the way to achieve this healthy goal.

You can influence your musculoskeletal system by controlling what you consume and how you move. We are concerned here primarily with what you eat. A healthy diet will pay dividends years down the road.


Calcium and magnesium are the two most important minerals for your muscles and bones. You probably know that calcium gives your bones density and strength. It also plays a vital role in allowing your nerves to communicate with your muscles.

Magnesium is necessary for the proper formation of the microscopic architecture of your bones. Too little magnesium keeps your bones from developing the intricate framework that makes them strong.

The best food sources for calcium are dairy products. You can also get significant calcium from foods like kale and spinach. For magnesium, look to oats, tree nuts and cocoa.


Simple carbohydrates include foods that are high in sugar, like candy and soft drinks. Sugar can disrupt the development of both bones and muscles. It prevents the bones from becoming as hard and dense as they should be and interferes with the development of muscle strength. This is particularly bad for children because deficiencies in youth can show up years or even decades later.

It is unclear if sugars themselves are the problem or if they simply displace healthier foods in the diet. It is likely a combination of the two. Sugared soft drinks, especially, should not be the first choice when you need to hydrate.

Complex carbohydrates in produce and whole grains are another story. They actually improve the state of your bones by helping your body absorb calcium. This is one more reason to fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, and grains.


The best fats for musculoskeletal health are the ones that contain omega-3 fatty acids. You may know that salmon is high in omega-3, but walnuts and flax seed are also excellent sources.

Overall Diet

Not only specific nutrients, but the overall quality of your diet can improve the health of your musculoskeletal system. A healthy diet can lead to a healthy weight, which reduces wear and tear on your joints. It is never too early, or too late, to start eating for the benefit of your bones and muscles.