Calcium is the most predominant mineral in the body, making up to 1.5-2% of total
body weight. Approximately 99% of calcium is found in the skeleton. Calcium
deficiency is associated with the development of osteoporosis, although in reality this
may be one of a number of contributory factors. Post-menopausal women are among
those at the highest risk of developing the disease. Studies suggest that calcium given in
combination with isoflavones can significantly decrease the rate of bone loss,
particularly in post menopausal women.
Approximately 70% of magnesium in the body is found in the teeth and bones. In fact
many experts now feel that magnesium is as critical to bone health as calcium.
Magnesium is required for the utilisation and control of calcium in the bones and
appears to increase the activity of vitamin D – which is required for calcium absorption
from the gut.
Dietary vitamin D is converted first by the liver, and then by the kidneys into its active
form known as 1-25-dihydroxycholecalciferol, or calcitriol. Parathormone influences
the kidneys to produce more calcitriol, which in turn increases the uptake of calcium
and phosphorous from the intestinal tract as well as promoting kidney re-absorption of
calcium. This facilitates the maintenance of higher blood levels of calcium and
phosphorous. The level of hormonal vitamin D (as calcitriol) is dependant on both
dietary intake of vitamin D and exposure to UV light from sunlight, which is required
to convert dietary vitamin D to its intermediate form in the liver.
Multi Nutrient Formulation
A number of nutrients are required for bone formation in addition to those listed
above. These include B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, copper, boron, manganese,
sulphur and silica. A multi vitamin and mineral formulation therefore provides the best
base for a bone health programme.
The protein osteocalcin is essential to bone formation. Osteocalcin facilitates the
binding of calcium to the bone matrix. Without adequate vitamin K, osteocalcin
remains inactive and cannot bind calcium, thus leading to defective bone mineralisation
and an increased risk of osteoporotic fractures. In fact, various studies during the
1980s have revealed that; a) vitamin K supplementation appears to reduce the urinary
excretion of calcium in postmenopausal women; b) blood levels of vitamin K tend to be
lower in osteoporotic patients; and c) lower blood levels of vitamin K are associated
with an increased risk of fractures in osteoporotic patients. Based on these studies, an
increased intake appears to be warranted, especially in post-menopausal women and
those who already have been diagnosed with (or have a high risk of) osteoporosis. As
the richest dietary sources of vitamin K are not liberally consumed within the typical
western diet, supplementation may be warranted in those at greatest risk of weak bone
Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range
Calcium (as citrate or amino acid chelate)1 800 – 1200mg per day
Magnesium (as citrate or amino acid chelate)2 400 – 600mg
Vitamin D33 400 - 2000IU per day
Vitamin K24 45-100ug per day
Multinutrient formula As per manufacturer’s directions
Carbonated soft drinks
Green leafy vegetables
Nuts and seeds
Take regular weight-bearing exercise
Ensure regular exposure to sunlight (required for vitamin D synthesis)
Corticosteroid use increases bone loss – support bone health with prolonged corticosteroid use.
1. Do not take concurrently with blood pressure medication unless under medical supervision. Those
with hyper-parathyroid conditions should not use calcium supplements unless under medical
2. High doses may cause loose stools. Concurrent use with heart medication under medical supervision.
Avoid high doses in kidney diseases.
3. Concurrent use with digitalis drugs, thiazide diuretics, or calcitonin under medical supervision only.
Consistent high levels may cause toxicity (>2000IU per day).
4. Do not take concurrently with anticoagulant medication unless under medical supervision. Do not
take with the anti-malarial drug primaquine.