- Kelin M
Best 4 Probiotics for Bone Health in 2021
Throughout our life, our cells break down old bones and replace them with new collagen and mineral. Bone density increases until age 25, stays stable until around 50, and after age 50, bones begin to break down and many people experience bone loss.
For women, this bone loss is especially dramatic due to menopause. Estrogen levels fall and one in two women will experience a broken bone due to weakened bones. Men are not completely in the clear: one in five men will experience a bone break due to increased fragility as well.
There are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the risk of bone loss-related fractures, and one of them might surprise you: it’s been found that taking care of your gut by taking certain specific strains of probiotics can actually help protect your bones!
We’ve listed our top picks for supplements to help prevent bone loss below. Keep reading to find out how we chose our favorites, which specific strains to look for in a probiotic, and other ways you can keep your bones strong and healthy well into old age!
The Best Probiotics for Bone Health
BioGaia Osfortis: Has the exact strain connected to improved bone density plus vitamin D. This one is made for women, but the strain is great for maintaining testosterone levels in men, too.
Best Whole Food Formula
Vitamin Code Grow Bone System: Contains an excellent vitamin and mineral blend for bones, plus L. plantarum (excellent for bones).
Nature’s Way Primadophilus Reuteri Pearls: 60 servings of probiotics with L. reuteri! This is a great deal per serving.
Best Diverse Probiotic with Prebiotics
Wholesome Wellness Raw: Has bone-friendly L. paracasei and L. plantarum, plus 32 other strains with 100 Billion CFUs! Great for increasing overall gut diversity.
What are the Risk Factors for Osteoporosis?
Most people will experience bone loss as a result of aging and hormones, but certain risk factors make it more likely. Family history of bone fractures from osteoporosis increases the odds, as do thyroid problems, lung disease, cancer, endometriosis, and certain medications.
Your diet also plays a role. Vitamin D deficiency puts you at extremely high risk, as does a low intake of calcium, protein, or potassium.
You can decrease your bone loss with the following good habits:
Eat calcium-rich foods like leafy greens, beans, or yogurt
Consume enough vitamin D (at least 600 IU per day, or 800 IU per day after age 70) either from sunshine, food, or a supplement
Eat a good amount of potassium (which helps calcium metabolism); you should consume 4700 mg per day. Try bananas, potatoes with the skin, prunes, or spinach.
Lift weights: bearing weight on your bones helps keep them strong. Even a daily walk is enough to make a difference!
Say no to caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco: all these substances in excess reduce bone density.
Do Probiotics Improve Bone Density?
Our gut health is always important, but it becomes especially important as we get older. Those with a healthier microbiome tend to be healthier in almost every way- higher mobility, less medication, longer lives, and a better overall life quality.
One study looked at the gut microbiome in 728 female twins. It was found that the twins with less microbial diversity were more likely to be frail.
If you want to learn everything you need to know about gut health and how to improve your microbiome so you can age with grace and good health, you should read this article.
While there's not a huge amount of research on the effect of probiotics on postmenopausal bone loss, one Lancet-published study has shown promising results from a mix of Lactobacillus paracasei DSM 13434, Lactobacillus plantarum DSM 15312 and Lactobacillus plantarum DSM 15313. Participants had no lumbar spine bone loss compared with significant bone loss in the placebo group!
Another double-blind study on women from 75 to 80 years old found that women given 10 Billion CFU of L. reuteri 6475 each day showed a significant improvement in bone mineral density compared with the control group. Another study on mice confirmed that L. reuteri could be a good way to reduce post-menopausal bone loss.
What this means is that it if you're past menopause, it would be prudent to take a probiotic with a mix of Lactobacillus species including L. paracasei and L. plantarum, or ideally L. reuteri.
How to Choose a Probiotic for Bone Density
We use the following criteria to choose probiotics for bone loss:
We looked specifically for Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus plantarum in the probiotics, as these were the species that were specifically studied. As more research is performed and more bone-specific probiotics developed, we will update this article to include those with specifically helpful strains.
If you use the wrong probiotic strains it can actually do more harm than good.
The studies mentioned previously used 10 Billion CFU (colony-forming units) total in each, so it’s important to look for probiotics with that strength as a minimum until more studies are done on smaller doses.
We looked for probiotics in an encapsulated form that includes some type of delayed-release or other protection to help it survive the acid in the stomach so that it makes it to its final destination in the large intestine intact.
4. Other ingredients
We want to see ingredients that support bone health specifically, rather than working against it. It would be ideal to find the necessary probiotics in addition to vitamin D3, K2, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, but the most important thing is that it contains the bone-boosting probiotics.
Our Recommendations for Bone Health Probiotics
Why we love it: If you’re serious about preventing bone loss, this is the one to take. It has an okay amount of vitamin D (50% of the daily dose you need if you’re over 70) but the real winning feature here is that it has the exact strain that’s been correlated with improved bone density and at the correct concentration. For men, this is an especially good one to take- the same strain has been associated with improved testosterone levels, another important factor for aging. Plus, reviewers say it works!
What we don’t love: It’s expensive. The vitamin D is a nice addition but hardly enough to pass as a vitamin D supplement on its own. There’s no indication that the capsules have any kind of protection to ensure the probiotic makes it to the gut, but the manufacturer says it doesn’t require refrigeration which is a good sign that it’s a sturdy design.
Best Whole Food Formula
Vitamin Code Grow Bone System
Why we love it: If this was just a vitamin and mineral blend for bones, it would do great at that. It has a whopping 1600 IU of vitamin D3 (derived from probiotics), calcium, magnesium, silica, and K2. But it has probiotics too, and that makes us raving fans! Not just any probiotic: Lactobacillus plantarum.
What we don’t love: It doesn’t say the strain of the L. plantarum so it’s hard to say if it makes a huge difference in this formula, especially at the teeny tiny dose of 500 Million CFU (compared to 10 Billion CFU used in the studies…this could be better). For the price it would be nice if they included more probiotics, but it seems to be working for people!
Nature’s Way Primadophilus Reuteri Pearls
Why we love it: It’s not the exact strains we’d love to see, but as far as species go, this has L. reuteuri (plus a few others that are great for overall gut and digestive health but not necessarily associated with positive bone health). It has 60 servings so per serving, this is a great deal.
What we don’t love: There’s really not much to this one; it’s a simple probiotic that isn’t specifically made for bone health, but if you have gut troubles as well this could help with multiple issues at once.
Best Diverse Probiotic with Prebiotics Wholesome Wellness Raw
Why we love it: This one doesn’t say the exact strains used, but it has both bone-friendly L. paracasei and L. plantarum. Overall it contains 100 Billion CFUs and although there’s no breakdown per strain, it’s safe to assume there’s a decent amount of everything.
There are 34 different strains in this one and it’s a great price so if you want to improve gut diversity this is a great way to do it. Plus, it includes prebioitics to feed the good bacteria in the gut!
What we don’t love: If bone loss prevention is your main concern, this is not the one for you. It’s too general of a probiotic. Plus, we wish it had a breakdown of quantity per strain and exact strains used so we could determine just how much this one will help your bones.
Bone breakdown is a normal part of aging. The older you get, the higher your risk for osteoporosis, especially if you’re a woman. However, maintaining your gut health can make all the difference as you age for not only your overall health but specifically for keeping your bones from fracturing.
Choosing a probiotic with L. paracasei, L. plantarum, and/or L. reuteri might be just what you need to keep your bones healthy. Research continues to confirm that gut health and bone health are firmly connected!