Foods That Support Bone Healing

Heather Dessinger

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foods supplements for bone healing

I have a cabinet full of herbs that support everything from sleep to immune function. I also keep Dermabond (liquid stitches) in my purse. ⁣

But this week my son hurt his wrist while playing kickball, and after pressing his fingernails on both hands to see how quickly the color returned (to assess circulation), checking his range of motion and asking some questions about his pain, I knew he needed more than me. ⁣

So we got an x-ray. It’s broken. ⁣

I’m beyond thankful for the doctors who have cared for my family when I’m outside of my wheelhouse, and for the herbalists and nutritionists who have published research-backed recommendations for supporting bone healing naturally. With that in mind, several of you asked on my Instagram post while I’m using to support my son’s recovery, so I thought I’d write it up for you.

As always, I want to mention that none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA, this article is not medical advice, and it is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. As always, please talk with your healthcare provider about any supplements you are considering. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive in. 

The 3 Stages of Bone Healing

When a bone breaks, the healing process takes place in three phases: 

Inflammation (0-2 weeks) – Inflammation can sometimes be our friend, as Dr. Lori Rose and I explain here. In the case of acute injuries (assuming no infection), the swelling and pain we experience actually support the healing process. Localized inflammation makes blood vessels more leaky, which allows nutrient-rich blood cells to easily travel into the damaged area and support healing. (1) Also, osteoclast cells help dissolve damaged bone in order to clear the area for new bone. 

New Bone Production (2-6 weeks) – During this phase, cells that build fibrous tissue and cartilage (chondroblasts) and bone (osteoblasts) begin to lay down the structure of new bone matrix (collagen and non-collagenous proteins, minerals, and water). This new growth is known as a soft callus, which is soft bone. 

Bone Remodeling (6+ weeks) – During this phase, the soft callus matures into a hard callus, aka hard bone. 

Best Foods & Supplements for Bone Healing

If bone healing sounds like a pretty intense process, it is. It requires a lot of energy, which is why your basal metabolic rate (aka the amount of energy you burn while just lying on the couch) goes up during the process. The nutrients needed are all present in a balanced diet, but not necessarily in optimal amounts to support fracture recovery. 

That’s why in addition to our usual diet, I’m strategically including foods and supplements that supply key nutrients for healing. Some are building blocks for new bone, while others are nutrients that assist with the absorption of those building blocks. Here’s an overview of them: 

Cup of bone broth and spoonful of collagen protein for bone healing

1. Protein & Collagen

We usually think of bone as a bunch of minerals fused together with the help of vitamin D, but actually it’s about 30% protein (mostly type 1 collagen). (2) Think of bone as a living sponge with mineral crystals embedded throughout. 

In this study, participants who were given micronutrients that support collagen production (vitamin C, lysine, proline and vitamin B6) showed “acceleration of fracture healing time” compared with participants who took a placebo.

With that in mind, I’m increasing my son’s protein intake – especially collagen protein – and the supporting nutrients needed to put it to use. Collagen protein (sometimes called gelatin), contains several amino acids – including the lysine and proline forms listed above – that serve as building blocks for collagen synthesis. Lysine also helps with calcium absorption. 

Where to find collagen: Homemade bone broth is a great source, as is high-quality pre-made bone broth. Powered collagen is also a great option. This kind can be dissolved into cold or hot liquids, and this kind can be used to make strawberry jellohomemade gummies and other snacks.

Vitamins for bone healing on counter (vitamin C, cod liver oil, vitamin K rich spinach, bee pollen)

2. Vitamins

Vitamin B6 – In one of the studies mentioned above, participants who received vitamin B6 and other nutrients that support collagen synthesis healed faster than those who didn’t. Since I prefer to give vitamins in whole-food form with possible, I’m opting for 1/4 – 1/2 tsp bee pollen daily which is rich in B6 as well as B1, B2, and co-factors that help with absorption. (3)

Vitamin C – Another essential nutrient for collagen synthesis, vitamin C is also an antioxidant that can help clear oxidative stress caused by the fracture. I’m using this whole food-based powdered vitamin C, which I stir into water, smoothies, or homemade gummies. 

Vitamin D & Omega 3-Fatty Acids – Even though omega-3s are not a vitamin, these two are mentioned together since they’re often found in the same foods. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the absorption of many minerals (calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, iron, and selenium to name a few) needed for bone synthesis, making it an important part of the healing process. 

Omega 3-fatty acids help soothe inflammation after the initial acute period when it is helpful. For both D and omega 3’s, I opt for 1/4 – 1/3 tsp of this cod liver oil that contains naturally occuring vitamins instead of synthetic ones. Sardines are also a good option if your family enjoys then. 

Vitamin K – Blood levels of vitamin K fall after a fracture, and one theory about why is that it’s drawn to the broken bone to initiate healing. Vitamin K helps the body bind calcium to bone and may play other supportive roles in recovery. It comes in two forms – K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is primarily found in leafy greens (which we eat a lot of) and vitamin K2 is found in pastured egg yolks, liver, butter, and fermented natto. 

Mineral-rich herbal tea for bone healing on  countertop

3. Minerals

Most of us get enough calcium via food, but we don’t necessarily get the magnesium needed to properly absorb and use it. According to the World Health Organization, only about 25% of Americans are consuming enough magnesium, leading to what CNN calls the invisible deficiency. (4) 

Getting adequate levels of magnesium improves bone quality, both by assisting calcium absorption and in other ways. Other minerals are needed to build bone, too: phosphorous, zinc, copper, silica, and boron to name a few. 

Because minerals found in food and drinks are typically more bioavailable than most supplements, I focus on mineral-rich herbal infusions. Another bonus with food sources is that they often contain a complementary balance of several minerals together, which helps optimize mineral balance in the body. 

The herbs I selected are all categorized by The Botanical Safety Handbook as Safety Class 1A, which is the safest rating possible. Here’s what I’ll be using (recipe below):

  • Nettle (Urtica dioica L.) – “Nettle is full of nutrients that are important for healthy bones, teeth, and hair. Many women have improved their bone density levels after drinking nourishing herbal infusions made with nettle . . . . Nettle has approximately has approximately 2,900 mg of calcium for each 100 grams of the dried leaf. (2) The naturally occurring calcium found in nettle is easily absorbed by our bodies (which is not the case when it comes to calcium supplements). Nettle is also high in magnesium, another critical nutrient for bone health. (3)” (5)
  • Oat straw (Avena sativa) – Rich in silica, magnesium, phosphorus, chromium, iron, calcium, alkaloids, vitamins and other nutrients, oat straw is deeply nourishing. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that although oat straw is naturally gluten-free, it can sometimes be cross-contaminated with gluten during processing. For that reason, if you’re gluten-free make sure to buy gluten-free oat straw that has not been processed with the same tools as wheat. 
  • Peppermint, Rosehips, etc. – Although they have benefits as well, I’m mostly focusing on their ability to make the infusion more flavorful and appealing. 

Bone Support Tea Recipe

Because the herbs below are nutritive rather than “medicinal,” they’re generally considered safe in significant amounts. It’s important to keep in mind that culinary plants like parsley are herbs, too, and we don’t measure them strictly before we eat them. Is it possible to get too much parsley? Probably, but it would probably take a lot of parsley. 

With that in mind, here’s how I arrived at the recipe below. Dosage recommendations for herbs usually assume an adult weight of about 150 pounds. My son is just under half that, so I opted for about half the adult dosage recommendation. 

The standard adult dose of nettle and oat straw for adults is 1-3 teaspoons per cup, taken three times daily. (Medical Herbalism) The standard infusion amount suggested for peppermint is 1 tsp taken as often as desired. For rosehips, a standard dose is 5-10 grams per day which is a lot more than this recipe calls for. (6)

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5 from 3 votes

Bone Support Tea Recipe

Made with mineral-rich herbs, this tea is a delicious and easy way to consume bioavailable nutrients that support bone health.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Steeping Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 1
Author Heather Dessinger



  • Pour 1 cup boiling water over dried herbs, cover with a plate, and infuse for 10-15 minutes.
  • Strain and serve. Drink 1-3 times per day.

Note: Due to soil depletion and other factors, it’s very difficult to get enough magnesium via dietary intake. That’s why in addition to the teas above I’ll also be making sure my son uses this kids magnesium lotion daily. Magnesium is well-absorbed via skin but the “oil” form can be itchy, so I prefer the lotion form.


When a bone breaks, it triggers a biochemical burst of pro-oxidants (free radical) that create inflammation. Early on this inflammation (called acute inflammation) is beneficial, but if left unchecked it can become chronic inflammation that impairs healing and damages surrounding tissues. (7)

Antioxidants are what our bodies use to counter pro-oxidants. Ideally, when the break occurs we have optimal levels of circulating antioxidants that can help “mop up” the radicals. However, depending on the severity of the break and other factors, this “mop up” process could deplete our antioxidant reserve levels below optimal amounts. For that reason, antioxidants are often recommended during the recovery process. In addition to helping with the cleanup/rebuilding process, it’s good to have sufficient amounts “on call” for any other need that comes up. 

I’m using the whole food-based vitamin C powder I mentioned above, plus tocotrienols occasionally along with a few other things I have on hand. 


Several studies have found a link between different strains of probiotics and accelerated bone healing. 

  • Lactobacillus casei Shirota (8)
  • Bifidobacterium adolescentis (9)
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) (10)

I’m not buying probiotics that contain these strains specifically because I think many more strains are likely to have similar effects. Instead, I’m sticking with the probiotic we’re using right now and making sure to include sauerkraut, coconut yogurt, beet kvass and other fermented foods into meals. 

To Recap

Here are the foods & supplements I’ll be using over the next six or so weeks to support my son’s healing:

Other Things That May Help

Red light therapy – In this study, red light therapy improved comfort and supported healing  for patients with wrist fractures. My son is currently wearing a cast right now so we’re not using this therapy right now, but when the cast comes off he’ll be doing a daily ten minute session with our Joovv Go

Comfrey Poultice – Often called “kitbone” because of its traditional role in supporting bone healing, comfrey is often recommended as a poultice if the broken bone is accessible . . . for example, for a broken toe that is not in a splint. Click here for more information on making and using poultices

Pain Reliever With Clean Ingredients – When one of my kids had minor surgery a couple of years ago we were told he’d need prescription pain medication. I called a compounding pharmacy and had the medication made for him without dyes, but I also bought Genexa’s over-the-counter liquid pain reliever

It’s made with the same active ingredient in children’s Tylenol (acetaminophen), but without dyes and artificial inactive ingredients. The pain reliever worked beautifully and we never ended up using the prescription. There are now a few additional options available, including a chewable for kids and caplets for adults. Genexa is available in many grocery stores, health food stores, and pharmacies, so if you’re reading this list and you need something right away, you can check availability here. (I’m a partner with them, just FYI.)

Do you have a tried-and-true approach for supporting fracture recovery? 

Please share it in the comments below!

supplements foods for bone healing


1. Tidball, JG and Wehling-Hendricks, M (2007) Macrophages promote muscle membrane repair and muscle fibre growth and regeneration during modified muscle loading in mice in vivo.

2. Feng, XU (2009) Chemical and Biochemical Basis of Cell-Bone Matrix Interaction in Health and Disease

3. Komosinska-Vassev, Katarzyna et. al. (2015) Bee Pollen: Chemical Composition and Therapeutic Application

4. World Health Organization (2009) Calcium and Magnesium in Drinking Water: Public Health Significance

5. de la Foret, Rosalee (2017) Alchemy of Herbs

6. Examine. Rose Hip

7. Loi, Florence et. al. (2016) Inflammation, Fracture and Bone Repair

8. Lei, M et. al. (2016) The effect of probiotic treatment on elderly patients with distal radius fracture: a prospective double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised clinical trial.

9. Roberts, Joseph et. al. (2019) Probiotic Supplements Accelerate Bone Repair and Prevent Systemic Bone Loss Following Femoral Fracture

10. Inserro, Allison (2018) Common Probiotic Stimulates Bone Formation in Mice, Study Says

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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14 thoughts on “Foods That Support Bone Healing”

  1. Hi Heather,
    I hope your son is recovering well! Do you get vitamin K just from food sources or do you supplement as well? If so, can you share the name of the supplement you take?

  2. (aka the amount of energy you burn while just laying on the couch)

    Lying on the couch. ‘Lay’ takes an object (lay the table; lay me down to sleep). Lie doesn’t take an object.

    • Thanks! I always forget the difference between “lay” and “lie”. If “nel” is your name, shouldn’t the “n” be capitalized?

  3. 5 stars
    I noticed you added silica but I’d like to add that fossil shell flour (aka food grade diatomaceous earth) is a fantastic source of silica.
    Silicon dioxide may support the formation of collagen fibers, which means it may help at the most basic level of your bone health. In fact, according to one in vitro study, silica stimulates not only collagen synthesis (which gives structure to connective tissue) but also the growth of bone cells, called osteoblasts.
    Another study found that silica can also benefit the spongy interior bone tissue, called trabecular bone, as well (Schiano, 1979).

  4. I appreciate all your recommendations. Currently, I’m experiencing severe osteoarthritis in both feet. I can hardly walk. I take ES Tylenol per my podiatrist. The right foot was injected with a steroid recently but with little or no relief and I rub my feet with a balm. I’m close to tears. I’m at a loss as to what to do next. I release you from any responsibility for your advice. What might be the most effective oral supplement or topical for me to use? Thanks.

    • I had the beginnings of osteoarthritis in the big joint of both of my big toes discovered in 2000. I wore a boot for several weeks on each foot and then went to tennis shoes with orthotics per my doctor. I continued wearing the tennis shoes for a while but that was just not practical for me and I was beginning to feel better so I went back to normal shoes. During that time I was taking MSM and noticed that I was not hurting. If I ran out and didn’t take it, I began to hurt again. As soon as I took it again, I was pain free again. At the time of my diagnosis in 2000 the doctor told me that I’d probably have to have surgery on my feet in the next 10 years. That was 20 years ago and I have had no need of surgery. It is definitely an inexpensive supplement to try if you want to see if it works for you.

    • I was just introduced to something called di da jiu. Used by people who practice martial arts and suffer from all kinds of body injuries. Recommended for sprained ligaments and arthritic problems. Found a source in Florida. A Chinese medicine doctor makes it himself. Dr. Dale Dugas.

    • Arthritis can sort of move around the body to various areas. I had it in my big toes several years ago, but when I went thru menopause and wanted to squelch my hot flashes I cut all of my sugar consumption in half and severely limited empty processed “white” foods like rice and flour. Seems to have taken care of both problems. If you’re not familiar with an anti-inflammatory diet already I’d google it and start switching over.

  5. love this article. I’m working on helping my daughter’s sprained ankle heal quickly so she can play in some soccer games in Florida on a new team in early January. I’m making sure she gets lots of anti inflammatory foods. I’m frequently making ginger, tumeric, garlic tea. She won’t drink a lot of bone broth sadly, (she’s 14) maybe bone broth collagen powder is a good way to go instead. We have lots of whole food, wild crafted supplements. And what do you think about fermented cod liver oil from green pastures? She goes to the chiropractor regularly and for cupping. Thinking about taking her for acupuncture. Yikes. It’s a lot!

    • Hi Joelle, in recent years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO). Some have claimed that it is rancid, while others say it isn’t. After reading all the available information on both sides, I cannot say with confidence that I know for certain that it’s safe.

      For that reason, I choose to err on the side of caution and do not recommend it at this time. I dive more into the pros and cons of cod liver oil and what I use in this article.

  6. I could have used this info last year when I broke a metatarsal, but with a naturally good diet and increasing my Vit D and C and calcium the spiral fracture healed well. I also did a little research and used fir and cedar essential oils on my foot to increase circulation. Whether or not it really helped physically it helped me mentally to feel like I was doing something while stuck on the couch for weeks.