With the plant-based revolution taking hold, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some superstars trade in their milk mustaches for pitchers of freshly squeezed orange juice. And it wouldn’t be a compromise. Oranges, grapefruit, and possibly other citrus can play a much bigger role in bone health than many people realize. In fact, a study out of Texas A&M University cited citrus as a potential key to osteoporosis prevention.
Researchers Extract Bone Benefits from Oranges and Grapefruits
In the controlled study, they fed orange and grapefruit juice to a group of lab rats. The results showed surprising improvement in the bone density of the juice drinking rats over the control group. The researchers conducted a follow up study with orange and grapefruit pulp, which also showed enhanced bone density.
In 2014, an observational study was conducted regarding orange juice consumption and bone health in both children and adults. They concluded that orange juice consumption was positively associated with bone mineral density in children and with bone health in adults.
I originally shared the Texas A&M study back in 2006, right after the report was released. But for National Orange Juice Day, I decided to dive deeper into the topic. This story now includes the “how” behind citrus and bone health, additional references with newer studies, and 25 delicious everyday recipes.
How Orange Juice Supports Bone Health and Osteoporosis Prevention
Discussions about bone health often revolve around calcium consumption, but calcium absorption and retention are the true keys to bone density. Our bodies utilize various vitamins and minerals found in citrus to keep calcium where it belongs.
- Vitamin C is essential for collagen production, which is the foundation for bone and cartilage formation.
- Potassium and Citrate act as a buffer to help decrease calcium loss when excess acid is consumed.
- Magnesium plays essential roles both directly and indirectly in bone formation and osteoporosis prevention.
- Phytonutrients found in citrus, like carotenoids and flavonoids, have been positively associated with bone activity, bone mineral density, and reduced fracture risk in studies and trials. The Texas A&M researchers believed limonoids, found in citrus, might also hold a key to better bone density.
Calcium in Orange Juice
A medium orange contains about 50 milligrams of calcium on its own, but you can also purchase calcium-fortified orange juice. Orange juice is typically fortified with calcium citrate, which has a higher absorption rate than calcium carbonate – the type of calcium found in dairy milk. So an 8-ounce glass of orange juice that’s fortified with 300 milligrams of calcium citrate actually provides bones with more calcium than an 8-ounce glass of dairy milk.
I’ve focused a bit more on oranges than grapefruit, because grapefruit juice can be problematic if you are on certain medications. Grapefruit inhibit the body’s ability to properly breaking down many types of medications, which can result in a toxic dose. The medication list includes common drugs like statins, calcium channel blockers, and more.
If grapefruit isn’t contraindicated for you, then it might be a good addition to your healthy bone diet. You can substitute grapefruit juice or grapefruit in most of the recipes below.
25 Dairy-Free Recipes with Oranges and Orange Juice
Of course you can enjoy oranges and orange juice straight up, but you can also incorporate them into these delicious dairy-free recipes.
- Orange Lotus Smoothie
- Kale Orange Slaw
- Potassium-Rich Kiwi Smoothie
- Greek Orange Salad
- Baked Vegan Orange-Cashew French Toast
- Healthy Citrus Shake
- Zucchini Carrot Bran Muffins
- Orange and Banana Ole
- Raw Chocolate Orange Torte
- Super-C Strawberry Smoothie
- Orange Spice Vegan Pancakes
- Citrus Fool
- Carrot-enoid Smoothie Bowl
- Dairy-Free Creme Caramel
- Pink Cadillac All-Fruit Smoothie
- Mexican Citrus Salad with Orange-Lime Vinaigrette
- Sunny Citrus Pancakes
- Orange Cashew Oil-Free Salad Dressing
- Kale Salad with Orange Ginger Dressing
- Wild Blueberry Orange Creamsicle Smoothie
- Orange Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry
- Zesty Orange Raisin Rice
- Olaf’s Orangesicle Pancakes
- Warm Potato Salad with Halibut, Arugula, and Orange Dressing
- Tropical Fruit Parfaits with Macadamia Whip
Orange Juice & Bone Health References
- J Med Food. 2008 Mar;11(1):99-104. “Grapefruit juice modulates bone quality in rats.”
- J Med Food. 2014 Oct;17(10):1142-50. “Impact of orange juice consumption on bone health of the U.S. population in the national health and nutrition examination survey 2003-2006.”
- J Bone Miner Res. 2012 Sep;27(9):1872-8. “Habitual flavonoid intakes are positively associated with bone mineral density in women.”
- Bone Health and Orange Juice by Florida Department of Citrus.