Bone density supplements provide the vitamin and mineral support necessary to prevent osteoporosis and arthritis.
Bone density supplements are particularly important for women over 30. But they can also alleviate arthritis symptoms in men and help them avoid debilitating late-in-life fractures.
There are more than 100 bone density supplements on the market today. Trying to figure out which are worth your money can be a time-consuming task.
Our research team put them all to the test and determined that the following represent the best bone density supplements of 2023.
1. Essential Elements Bone Boost
The makers of Bone Boost understand that a supplement is only effective if the body accepts it. Many low-quality supplement ingredients wind up in the toilet. Bone Boost calcium, however, is specially formulated to be absorbed by the body.
What we like: The calcium in Bone Boost exhibits a high degree of bioavailability. Bone Boost complements the activity of that calcium with vitamins D3 and K2, both of which enhance the structural integrity of the bone.
Flaws: Using the most effective ingredients costs more. Which means the final product does too. We feel it’s worth it.
2. Jarrow Formulas Bone-up
Jarrow Bone-Up addresses all the structural and nutritional needs of your skeletal system so you can navigate the best years of your life without worrying about broken bones or osteoporosis.
What we like: Jarrow understands that the bone matrix is comprised of more than just calcium. As such, they address bone density and strength from both a structural and nutritional point of view.
Flaws: May contain trace amounts of soy.
3. Pure Synergy Bone Renewal
Pure Synergy Bone Renewal uses plant-based calcium that exhibits outstanding bioavailability. This type of calcium is more easily absorbed by the body than what is sourced from limestone or other non-organic materials.
What we like: The calcium used here is extracted from Icelandic red algae, which tells you something about the company’s commitment to providing pure, potent ingredients. All Pure Synergy supplements are vegetarian-friendly and free of GMOs.
Flaws: That Icelandic red algae is not cheap.
4. Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Bone Marrow
Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Bone Marrow is a different type of supplement that leverages the power of bone marrow extracted from grass-fed cows. It’s a unique approach that enhances the integrity of bones, teeth, and connective tissues.
What we like: Bovine bone marrow is one of the most effective ingredients available for bolstering the integrity of your bones from the inside out. This hard to find ingredient is put to optimal use here and will start working immediately to strengthen and repair tired bones.
Flaws: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their doctor before taking bovine bone marrow.
5. Garden of Life Grow Bone System
Garden of Life is well-known for their commitment to high-quality, natural ingredients. Here they provide calcium gleaned from gut-friendly organic algae, and organically grown foods. They complement that calcium with a generous dose of magnesium, as well as vitamins K, D, and C.
What we like: The calcium here is not sourced from limestone or other rocks. Instead, it is extracted from purely organic sources, meaning there are no compatibility issues with your human physiology.
Flaws: Contains boron which, in rare cases, may produce stomach upset or diarrhea.
6. One Elevated Comprehensive Bone Builder
One Elevated provides one of the largest doses of calcium you will find in a bone density supplement. A full 1000 mg in each capsule. They enhance the effectiveness of that calcium with an array of complementary minerals, including magnesium and zinc.
What we like: This is a well-rounded bone density supplement that covers all the bases. There is calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins D3 and K and the amino acid L-Lysine, which aids in protein synthesis and helps ward off osteoporosis.
Flaws: Vegans be aware it is processed in a facility that also processes fish.
7. Doctor’s Best Bone Maker
Doctor’s Best supplements are always highly effective and free of questionable ingredients. Bone Maker leverages the proven bone-building ability of olive leaf extract. It is a calcium-free supplement that strengthens bones by supporting the work of osteoblasts.
What we like: New bone tissue is built on a foundation of osteoblasts. Without a proper supply, bone production grinds to a halt. Bone Maker provides the osteoblasts necessary to strengthen and repair weak or damaged bones.
Flaws: While the olive leaf extract is great, we would have loved to see some calcium and magnesium too.
8. Caltrate Gummy Bites
Not everyone is able or willing to swallow large supplement capsules. Some prefer to get the nutrients they need via liquids, or in this case, gummies. Caltrate Gummy Bites are an easy way for anyone, particularly older individuals, to increase bone density without worrying about choking.
What we like: The problem with a lot of gummy supplements is that they taste like shoe leather. These Gummy Bites from Caltrate are actually quite tasty. If you are looking for an alternative to capsules, this is better than most.
Flaws: Not meant for kids.
9. New Chapter Bone Strength Take Care
All the calcium in New Chapter Bone Strength Take Care capsules is derived from plant sources. That’s good because plant-based calcium is more easily absorbed by the body. Take Care takes care to address bone density from both structural and maintenance perspectives.
What we like: Provides 770 mg of calcium in each tablet, alongside magnesium, and vitamins K1 and K2, and vitamin D3. This supplement is vegan-friendly, Kosher, GMO-free, and free of all common food allergens.
Flaws: A wee bit short on the magnesium for some reason.
10. Life Extension Bone Restore
Last but not least, is Life Extension Bone Restore. This is another well-rounded, well-considered bone density supplement that bolsters bone strength while fending off long-term degenerative conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis.
What we like: Contains a generous dose of magnesium, along with the important vitamins D3 and K2. Also, it includes calcium malate, which is considered a more potent form of the mineral.
Flaws: Four capsules per serving will be a bit much for some people.
Who Needs Bone Density Supplements?
Considering that they are several times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, and that they are twice as likely to develop arthritis than men, women are the obvious answer. Particularly women over 50. Beyond that age, women begin to show a dramatic reduction in estrogen production, and that has the effect of undermining bone density and strength.
But it does not make a lot of sense to wait until bone density problems are knocking on the door to start taking these supplements. A much better course of action is to start taking them in your 30s. That way, you give yourself a fighting chance of preventing osteoporosis outright.
Men should also consider taking bone density supplements because women are not the only ones who become susceptible to devastating fractures later in life. In addition, bone density supplements provide a range of other benefits that should not be overlooked, including benefits for heart and mind.
How We Ranked
Ranking bone density supplements is not as straightforward as it might seem. There are actually quite a few variables to consider.
We started by eliminating any supplements that were not produced in an FDA-certified facility. The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements per se. But they do provide production guidelines that supplement makers are encouraged to adhere to. Production facilities that live up to those guidelines earn the FDA certification. Those that don’t, don’t, and are not worth bothering with.
Next, we shifted our attention to the ingredient list. There are a few staples that are essential to maintaining bone density and overall bone health in general. They are calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and vitamin D. We wanted to see some or all of these in a supplement unless there was a good reason for excluding them.
Such is the case with our #2 supplement, Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Bone Marrow. It depends entirely on the bone-bolstering efficacy of bovine bone and cartilage. It is a more expensive type of supplement to be sure. And about the only one that does not need other ingredients to prop it up.
The amount of each ingredient was the next consideration. We look poorly upon supplements that skirt full disclosure by hiding behind a ‘proprietary blend’ label. We want to see what we are getting and how much. If a particular supplement did not list quantities, it did not make our list.
Finally, we considered the reputation of the manufacturer, and whether they have a history of providing high-quality supplements, or if they spend all their time in court defending themselves against lawsuits.
Q: What is a bone density supplement?
A: A bone density supplement contains vitamins, minerals, and (sometimes) other ingredients that are crucial to maintaining strong, healthy bones. Bone density supplements are particularly important for older women who suffer from osteoporosis much more frequently than men (1). But bone density supplements are a good idea for most adults, because they can help ensure weak, brittle bones do not become an issue in old age.
Q: Why should I take a bone density supplement?
A: If you are a woman facing middle or old age, you are doubtless aware that bone health is a major concern. There are numerous reasons why women suffer from bone-related conditions more than men (2), including the fact that their bones are usually thinner than men’s bones to begin with. And once a woman reaches menopause, the amount of estrogen she produces typically drops sharply. But men are not immune to osteoporosis either.
Q: What is in a bone density supplement?
A: The most common minerals in bone density supplements are calcium and magnesium. These two minerals play a vital role in overall bone health, so if your bone density supplement does not include one or both, you need to ask why. Many bone density supplements also include vitamin K, which bolsters bone mineral density, helps in mineral absorption, reduces the chance of fractures, and modulates calcium balance (3).
Q: Are bone density supplements safe?
A: Yes, bone density supplements are safe. The minerals, vitamins, and other compounds in these supplements are well known to science and their mechanisms well-understood. Bone density supplements do not contain any controlled substances, any addictive substances, or anything known to cause adverse side effects.
Q: Will bone density supplements make my bones stronger?
A: Yes, in most cases bone density supplements will make a person’s bones stronger. Provided, of course, that the person has bones that need strengthening, and that they take the supplement as directed.
Q: Can bone density supplements prevent osteoporosis?
A: It is almost impossible to prove a negative. That is, prove that something did not happen. All we really have to go on is data gleaned from various health studies over the years. Those studies strongly suggest that they can increase bone density, which, in theory, should reduce the risk of osteoporosis (4). They also show that older women who take bone density supplements are less likely to suffer a bone fracture than women who do not.
Q: Can bone density supplements prevent arthritis?
A: Yes, it is possible the right type of bone density supplement may prevent osteoarthritis (5). And if it does not prevent it, this type of supplement may at least delay the onset of osteoarthritis. Bone density supplements can also reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis. They do that by strengthening both the bone and cartilage and reducing inflammation, a major cause of the pain and stiffness associated with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Q: How long before I see benefits from a bone density supplement?
A: It depends upon which benefit you are tracking. If you are taking bone density supplements to reduce symptoms of arthritis, you may start to see some improvement in pain and stiffness in a matter of weeks. If you are concerned about osteoporosis and are taking a bone density supplement to try and fend it off, it could well be years before you realize you have not developed that bone-wasting disease, thanks to your bone density supplements.
Q: Why is bone density so important?
A: Most people take their bones for granted until they fracture one. But bones keep us upright, enable movement, and allow us to perform both simple and complex tasks. As we age, our bone density begins to decline, opening the door to potentially life-altering fractures (6). It is particularly important for women, who are many times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, to do what they can to retain bone density.
Q: Is it safe to consume bovine cartilage?
A: Some bone density supplements contain ground up bovine cartilage. This makes some people uneasy. But is there any reason to be nervous about consuming bovine cartilage? According to medical science, it is not only safe, but the practice of consuming bovine cartilage is widespread. It is used to treat everything from poison ivy, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, acne, osteoarthritis, and more (7).
Q: Do I need a prescription for a bone density supplement?
A: Because bone density supplements do not contain any controlled substances or otherwise addictive or dangerous ingredients, they are available without a prescription. They can be purchased over the counter in pharmacies, supermarkets, or through myriad online outlets.
Q: Are there any side effects to taking bone density supplements?
A: The main ingredients in most bone density supplements are calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and vitamin D. None of these are known to produce any notable side effects unless taken in large quantities. For instance, if you consume large amounts of magnesium, you may experience an upset stomach or diarrhea. But the amounts found in bone density supplements are modest and typically pose no threat of side effects.
Q: How do I know if I need a bone density supplement?
A: Middle age is the surest indicator that a person needs to think about a bone density supplement. But there are other things to look for too. If you have suffered more than one fractured bone in recent years, that is a warning sign. If you are naturally thin, drink more than a few alcoholic drinks per day, are lactose intolerant (8), or have ever suffered from an eating disorder, you should consider a bone density supplement (9).
Q: Can anyone take a bone density supplement?
A: Yes, unless specifically told not to by a doctor, any otherwise healthy adult should be able to take bone density supplements without worry. And because they pay handsome dividends in other areas besides bone health, even younger adults with no particular bone density issues will likely benefit from taking them.
Q: Do women need bone density supplements more than men?
A: As a general rule, yes. The need for women to take bone density supplements is typically greater than for men. Women typically have smaller bones than men, which makes their proper upkeep particularly important. Women are also many times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis, as we have seen. They are also more likely to suffer from both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (10).
Q: What is the right age to start taking a bone density supplement?
A: When it comes to bone density supplements, researchers have not determined an ideal age to start taking them. But as a general rule, women should consider taking them once they pass 30. Starting young will likely pay handsome dividends. It can help prevent the onset of both osteoporosis and arthritis, and potentially prevent a devastating fracture later in life.
Q: How can I tell if a bone density supplement is working?
A: Bone density supplements are like multivitamins that act in subtle ways. The clearest indication that they are working is that you do not develop osteoporosis or arthritis and do not suffer a broken bone later in life. You may, however, notice other benefits of a bone density supplement fairly quickly. For instance, you may notice an improvement in your workouts or mood, or you may suffer less severe PMS symptoms and fewer migraines.
Q: Which bone density supplement is best?
A: Above we have provided 10 bone density supplements our research indicates are the best on the market. While most contain more or less the same primary ingredients, they tend to provide them in different amounts. The best thing to do is to consult your doctor and determine which formulation would be most beneficial for you.
Q: Are bone density supplements expensive?
A: No, bone density supplements are very affordable. Typically just pennies a day. When you consider all the physical problems they can help prevent or treat, they are really quite an extraordinary healthcare value.
Bone density supplements help prevent the onset of osteoporosis and arthritis. They are also among the best-known ways to ensure you do not wind up a victim of a serious fracture later in life. And they provide a wealth of secondary benefits that affect heart, mind, teeth, blood, and more.
Bone density supplements are affordable, safe, and effective. You do not need a prescription to purchase them, and they produce virtually no side effects. Whether you are 30, 50, or 70+, bone density supplements have a multitude of important benefits to offer.
Use the information provided above to determine which bone density supplement is right for you.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended bone density supplement, click here