Posted in General by Penny WadePenny Wade on 16 August 2010


Building strong bones takes a lifetime. During the years the body builds new bone and loses old bone. Some bone loss is normal from about 35 years onwards. So, for young and middle-aged adults, the goal is to maintain bone mass and strength by building as much new bone as you loose through the ageing process. As we grow older bone loss occurs faster than bone growth. To keep bones healthy we need to limit this bone loss. Thus, getting enough calcium, vitamin D and exercise is important at all stages.

Osteoporosis (OP)

This occurs where bone loss is greater than bone growth in our older years. It is a silent disease as people cannot feel their bones getting weaker until they have a fracture . Osteopaenia is a precursor to osteoporosis, but not all people with osteopaenia will develop O.P. In Australia 2.2 million are affected by OA. 11% are men and 27% are women age 60 and over. Women have a higher risk because of the drop in oestrogen in peri and post menopausal years. So what can we do to keep our bone density up?


Diet and lifestyle factors

  • Exposure to sunlight for 20-30 mins. per day to increase vitamin D levels
  • Avoid smoking – Smokers have lower oestrogen levels and thus bone density
  • Exercise – Weight bearing and resistance exercises are essential. Exercises such as walking, running, tennis, football codes, resistance training – weights and theraband and high impact loading such as jumping( skipping is very good). Exercise daily or every second day for 60 mins. for maximum benefit.
  • Reduce salt, caffeine and soft drinks - Calcium is excreted into the urine when salt and excess caffeine is consumed. Soft drinks contain high levels of phosphorus which bind calcium, making it less available for bone building.
  • Reduce animal protein – Excessive protein intake increases calcium loss, whilst lack of protein is related to poor recovery from fractures.
  • Acid-alkaline balance and the Mediterranean diet – A recent study from Greece found that a modified version of the Mediterranean diet containing high levels of alkaline fruits and vegetables, fish and olive oil was beneficial to bone health.




Research suggests that Calcium Citrate is 22-27% better absorbed than calcium carbonate. Recommended daily dose is 1200mg. If you can get at least half of this from the diet so much the better, but if you have high cholesterol dairy may not be the way to go.

Vitamin D

If skin exposure is not possible then 800-1000IU of vitamin D is needed per day, in the form of cholecalciferol.

Fish oils

The essential fatty acids in fish oil of DHA and EPA tend to increase bone formation and reduce bone loss. Inflammation in the body is one of the factors causing bone loss, thus the anti-inflammatory action of fish oils help here.

Drug interactions

Calcium may decrease the absorption of certain drugs such as antibiotics and bisphosphonates (Fosamax, Actonel). Thus take calcium 2 hours away from these drugs. Calcium should be used with caution if you are taking thiazide diuretics. These are used for fluid retention caused by heart disorders.

Vitamin K found in some calcium supplements should not be taken in people taking warfarin.


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