Bones matter at all stages of life


iNova pharmaceuticals and their B-Cal® calcium range has launched the “Big O” campaign – to encourage South Africans to put their voice behind Osteoporosis, also known as the “silent disease”.

B-Cal® is South Africa’s number one scripted calcium range(1) and consists of five different products, allowing your specialist or pharmacist to choose the calcium supplement best suited for you.

The “Big O” campaign aims to create increased awareness about Osteoporosis and the important role that calcium plays in bone health.

Calcium is a major structural component of bone tissue, and gets deposited in the bone which strengthens the skeleton(2). The skeleton itself acts as a reservoir for calcium, and if someone is not getting enough dietary calcium, the body releases calcium from the bones into the blood. This leads to the gradual loss of calcium, causing the bones to become thin and weak, and over time this can predispose someone to developing Osteoporosis(2, 3).

Osteoporosis mainly affects the spinal column and hips(4).

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation South Africa (NOFSA), Osteoporosis is defined as a disease in which the density and quality of bones are reduced, leading to weakness of the skeleton and increased risk of fracture, particularly of the spine, wrists, hip, pelvis and upper arms. In many affected people, bone loss is gradual and without warning signs until the disease is advanced, hence it being referred to as the “silent disease”(5).

Peak bone mass is reached at around the age of 306, after which the bone cells responsible for making new bone tissue becomes slower than those reabsorbing the old bone tissue. Simply put, bone is broken down faster than it is built up(6). It is vital to build up bone mass from the teenage years to prevent Osteoporosis later in life(4).

Prof Tess Van der Merwe, Honorary Clinical Professor and Researcher at the University of Pretoria, says that we need to start supplementing with a calcium replacement at a very young age. She further advises that “Achieving peek bone mass before 21 will pay great dividends later in life. Combine resistance training with aerobic training from an early age. Do not overconsume red meat. Never smoke!”(4)

It’s important to consume calcium from foods and beverages. Taking an appropriate calcium supplement is also a great way to increase your calcium intake as the right supplement will contain relatively large amounts of elemental calcium, and dissolves well in the body7.

Teréza Hough, CEO of the National Osteoporosis Foundation of South Africa (NOFSA). “There can be no doubt that calcium is an important bone mineral. Calcium is also important to support other critical bodily functions like controlling your blood pressure, maintaining your heart beat, stimulation of hormone secretions, and clotting of blood. Calcium is lost daily in the urine, sweat and faeces. It should therefore be replaced in adequate amounts to maintain a positive calcium balance(8).”

“Most individuals can easily get at least half of the calcium they need from food. If you are unable to modify your diet to get enough calcium on a daily basis you obviously need to take a supplement(8),” she says.

Women should start having bone density tests from the age of 40. Should there be a family history of Osteoporosis; women should be tested as soon as they have finished having children(4).

Some of the risk factors for Osteoporosis which South African women need to be more aware of include obesity, menopause, lactose intolerance, any marginal or radical diet, pregnancy and breast feeding, chronic gastro intestinal disease, bariatric surgery, previous total gastrectomy or bowel resection, post chemotherapy or hormonal manipulation for cancers such as breast cancer and other various chronic medications(4).

“Our diets have become compromised and a very large percentage of women are overweight with low Vitamin D levels and fatty livers. In addition we lead a largely sedentary lifestyle with little stimulation of bone formation. Certain calcium products have a very poor rate of absorption and can also interfere with (or be interfered with) by for instance iron replacement,” explains Prof van der Merwe, reinforcing why all women should be taking a calcium supplement(4).

The extensive B-Cal range to best suit each unique patient profile includes B-CAL-DM (Calcium with Vitamin D3 and Magnesium); B-CAL-D (Calcium and Vitamin D3), B-CAL Ultra (Calcium with vitamins and minerals), B-CAL (Calcium) and Calcium Citrate D (Calcium effervescent with Vitamin D3).

How can we best protect ourselves from developing Osteoporosis? Dr Van der Merwe summarises this as follows: “Knowledge and awareness, correct diet, adequate replacement from a young age, conservative life style, training, check-ups with your physician”.

Start taking your Calcium today!
For more information go to or


1. Impact RX Script Data (Vitamins & Minerals / Constructed Class) MAT Jul 2018
2. Hughes D, Mayer J. Invest in Your Bones: the role of food and nutrition in building strong bones. USA: International Osteoporosis Foundation; 07 August 2006
3. Hough, S. et al, NOFSA Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Osteoporosis. Journal of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes of South Africa, 2010, 15 (3)
4. Dr Tess Van Der Merwe Q&A August 2018
5. National Osteoporosis Foundation South Africa – What Is It? (Website accessed on 24 July 2018)
6. National Institute of Health, Calcium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals (internet) 2014 (updated 2013 Nov 21, cited Jan 27)
7. Calcium Supplement Guideline – University of Arizona (
(Website accessed on 24 July 2018)
8. Calcium Supplementation – Teréza Hough NOFSA 2018

For more information, speak to your healthcare professional. Further information is available on request from iNova Pharmaceuticals. Name and business address: iNova Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Ltd. Co. Reg. No. 1952/001640/07. 15E Riley Road, Bedfordview. Tel. No. 011 087 0000. IN2770/18