ASMI says National Healthy Bones Action Week highlights importance of Calcium and Vitamin D for bone health

05 August 2014

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5 August 2014 - The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) said that National Healthy Bones Action Week (3-10 August) puts the spotlight on osteoporosis and highlights the important role calcium and vitamin D play in preventing osteoporosis. It is estimated that 1.2 million Australians have osteoporosis and a further 6.3 million have low bone density.1

Steve Scarff, ASMI Director Regulatory and Scientific Affairs said: "Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, causing a loss of bone density. Osteoporosis makes bones brittle and increases the risk of fractures.

"Calcium is essential in the development, maintenance, structure and strength of bones. It is extremely important for people to consume the recommended dietary intake of calcium to ensure they have sufficient to build and maintain healthy bones. Supplementation is an option where this amount cannot be obtained from the diet.

"The other nutrient vital for bone health is vitamin D, which enhances the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, regulates blood levels of calcium and is essential for bone mineralisation and maintenance. It is essential in the absorption of calcium and phosphate from the diet, and the maintenance of normal calcium levels in the blood.

"Where calcium intake is adequate, vitamin D is needed for its incorporation into bone; where intake is insufficient, vitamin D acts to reabsorb calcium from the bone to maintain blood levels.

"The major source of vitamin D is exposure to ultraviolet light. It is difficult to obtain sufficient vitamin D from the diet, as few foods contain the nutrient, and only in limited quantities.

"Nearly a quarter of Australians have a vitamin D deficiency. The 2011-13 Australian Health Survey (AHS) found that 17% of people had a mild deficiency, 6% a moderate deficiency and less than 1% a severe deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency was much lower in those who took a supplement. 2

"Vitamin D levels varied markedly by season, with rates of deficiency being much lower in summer (14%) and much higher in winter (36%). In winter, rates of vitamin D deficiency were particularly high in the south eastern states of Victoria (49%), ACT (49%) and Tasmania (43%), compared with the northern states of Queensland (15%) and the Northern Territory (17%).

"The Australian Health Survey found that one in twenty people used a vitamin D supplement. For people who aren't obtaining adequate vitamin D from natural sources such as sunlight, supplementation is a highly effective way to fill the gap.
"A study by Frost and Sullivan in the US estimated that given the full use of calcium and vitamin D supplements at preventative daily intake levels among all US women over the age of 55 years diagnosed with osteoporosis, upwards of US $1.5 billion per year and more than US$12.2 billion

from 2013 to 2020 can be saved because of avoided osteoporosis-attributed fractures. This equates to US $5.27 in savings per US$1 spent on calcium and vitamin D supplements.3

"Vitamin K is also important in supporting healthy bones and the natural function of calcium and vitamin D on bone mineralisation, strength and repair. There are two forms of vitamin K, vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 has greater bioavailability and is better absorbed than vitamin K1. Vitamin K2 may help reduce bone loss by supporting bone mineral density, in postmenopausal women when taken long term. 4,5
"Australians who are unsure about their calcium and vitamin D intake are encouraged to talk to a qualified healthcare professional who can provide advice on ways to monitor and if needed, increase their calcium and vitamin D levels," said Mr Scarff.

About ASMI: The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak body representing sponsors of non-prescription medicines - over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary medicines. Its members make up 85 per cent of the $4bn self care market. Membership totals 60 companies and ASMI members employ approximately 18,000 people with exports estimated at $1.2 billion annually. ASMI's mission is to promote better health through responsible self care. This means ensuring that safe and effective self care products are readily available to all Australians at a reasonable cost. ASMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy (

1. Osteoporosis Australia website.
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. National Health Survey 2011-12.
3. Frost and Sullivan. Smart Prevention. Healthcare cost savings resulting from the targeted use of dietary supplements. 2013.
4. M. van Summeren, et al. The effect of menaquinone-7 (vitamin K2) supplementation on osteocalcin carboxylation in healthy prepubertal children. British Journal of Nutrition (2009), 102, 1171-1178.
5. Sato, T. et al. Comparison of menaquinone-4 and menaquinone-7 biovailability in healthy women. Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:93.

For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:
Marie Kelly-Davies
PR Manager, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)
P: 9923 9410 M:0408 256 381 E: