partner in fracture prevention

Healthy Bones

Way To Healthy Bones

We need to maintain strong and healthy bones to live an active life. Strong bones are needed for proper movement and the support of our internal organs. Bones also store vital minerals necessary for health.

Over the next 20 years, half of all Australians over 50 will suffer from the effects of weak bones unless changes are made to their lifestyle. Strong bones are established in childhood. However good dietary habits, exercise and modern treatments can help to ensure that your bones remain healthy throughout your life.

And if you have a bone disease such as osteoporosis, the good news is that nowadays your doctor can detect and treat it.

The Fracture cascade

Osteoporosis can cause a ‘cascade’ of fractures. This means that once an osteoporotic fracture occurs, it is more likely that the patient will suffer other fractures. For example, women who have suffered an osteoporotic fracture of the spine are four times more likely than other women to have any fracture.

Nearly two thirds of the fractures of the spine are not identified or treated, even though they nearly all case pain and some disability. People often believe that the symptoms of spine fractures – back pain, height loss or rounding of the spine – are just due to ‘old age’. Many osteoporotic fractures can be prevented, or the risk of further fractures greatly reduced.


Calcium plays a major role in building and maintaining healthy bones in people of all ages. It combines with other minerals to form the hard crystals that give the bone its strength.

The bones act as a calcium bank account, storing calcium and releasing it into the bloodstream as needed. The body cannot make calcium; it must come from our diet. So if your diet is inadequate in calcium there are more withdrawals than deposits from your calcium bank account and you risk losing bone strength.

Lack of calcium has been singled out as a major public health concern because it is critically important to bone health. Your daily requirement of calcium depends on your age and sex. Peak bone mass is achieved by the early 20s and most of this is done during puberty. The higher your peak bone mass, the more likely it is that you will maintain better bone health for the rest of your life. This is why calcium is so important for children and teenagers. In adults, adequate calcium is essential to maintain bone strength. As we age, calcium is less effectively absorbed from the intestine, so the intake needs to be increased. When the body can no longer replace the calcium fast enough to keep the bones healthy, they become thinner, resulting in osteoporosis.

Less than half of all Australian adults get their daily recommended intake of calcium.

If you cannot get enough calcium in your diet, your doctor may suggest a calcium supplement. The easiest way is a single tablet containing 600 mg of calcium. Calcium tablets combined with vitamin D are also available. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential to bone health. It helps increase the absorption of calcium and phosphorous from food. Vitamin D also helps regulate the amount of calcium in the blood and helps to strengthen the skeleton.

Vitamin D3 is created by the action of sunlight (UV light) on the skin. A deficiency of Vitamin D can contribute to osteoporosis. Without Vitamin D, calcium will not be fully absorbed by the body.

Exposure to the sun can help your body produce Vitamin D. 6- 8 minutes per day in summer and 25 minutes per day in winter (check details with your health professional) is enough sunlight to produce Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also found in oily fish, eggs and dairy produce.

If you have a low Vitamin D level in your blood your doctor may suggest a Vitamin D supplement. This is sometimes combined with calcium in the same preparation.


There is only one medicine that actually increases the amount of bone.  This is teriparatide (trade name Forteo).  To take this treatment, you need to inject yourself every day.  It is very expensive.  The Pharmaceutical Benefit Service  only subsidises it for people with exceptionally fragile bones.