World Osteoporosis Day, 20th October, is an international awareness day promoted by osteoporosis patient societies around the world in partnership with the International Osteoporosis Foundation.
The aim is to encourage action for a bone health lifestyle by focusing on:
• Regular weight bearing and muscle strengthening exercise
• No smoking and avoiding excessive alcohol intake
• Nutritious bone healthy diet
The big 3: key nutrients for building strong bones
1. Calcium is vital for strong bones. Calcium is a major building block of our skeleton; 99% of the 1 kg of calcium found in the average adult body resides in our bones. Milk and other dairy foods are the most readily available sources of calcium. Some people have trouble digesting lactose in milk and dairy, but there are other food sources of calcium including green vegetables (e.g., broccoli, curly kale, bok choy); whole canned fish with soft, edible bones such as sardines or pilchards; nuts (almonds and Brazil nuts in particular); and tofu set with calcium. For people who cannot get enough calcium through their diets, supplements may be beneficial. These should be limited to 500-600 mg per day and it is generally recommended that they be taken combined with vitamin D.
2. Vitamin D -plays two key roles in the development and maintenance of healthy bones. It helps the body absorb calcium from the intestines; ensures correct renewal and mineralization of bone. Individuals should try to get 10–20 minutes of sun exposure to bare skin (face, hands and arms) outside peak sunlight hours (before 10 am and after 2 pm) daily – without sunscreen – and taking care not to burn.
3. Protein • Provides the body with a source of essential amino acids necessary to support the building of bone
In Australia, poor bone health is estimated to result in more than 183,000 fractures in 2022. The annual cost of the disease is $3.84 billion, with up to 67 per cent of the cost relating to unwanted fractures.
Healthy Bones Australia’s online self-assessment tool, called Know Your Bones, can help consumers understand their risk. The self-assessment www.knowyourbones.org.au has been completed by nearly 95,000 Australians.
“Pharmacists can recommend this tool to consumers with potential risk factors for osteoporosis. This could include consumers over 50 years on certain medications which can impact bone health or those with a fracture from a minor incident.”