Calcium is responsible for the mineralisation of the bone and vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium from the gut. This is especially recommended for people whose calcium intake is insufficient, or whose exposure to sunlight is limited.
Bisphosphonates slow down the work of the cells responsible for bone resorption, prevnting them from removing too much old bone, leading to progressive gains in bone mass. There is also a long-acting form of bisphosphonate, called alendronate, which is available in South Africa. This has to be taken only once a week.
Calcitonin may be used to decrease the pain of osteoporotic fractures and it also reduces the risk of these fractures when used over a sustained period of time.
Regular consultations with a doctor are recommended – all patients on long-term medication should be monitored regularly.