Our Musculoskeletal System is made up of our joints, muscles and bones, some of the hardest-working parts of our body. Together, they work as a tight-knit team, to allow our body to move in all the ways necessary to lead a full and active life – from bending down to tie up our shoelaces through to playing our favourite sports.

Like most teams, our muscles, joints and bones perform best when every team member is ‘in form’ and at the top of their game.

So, while it’s common to think about the health of your bones, especially as you get older, it’s also important to consider the health of your muscles and joints. Even a strong skeleton can’t stand on its own – it takes a team just to keep us upright.  

Caring for them is a team effort too – there is no single ‘magic’ nutrient. These five nutrients are key to include in your diet for the team to perform at its best.

  1. Calcium: Calcium is well known for its role in supporting strong bones, but it’s also vital for muscle movement and contractions. If you aren't getting enough calcium, your body will take what it needs from your bones. And if your bones are left constantly depleted of calcium, they will become weaker, making them more likely to break (a condition called ‘osteoporosis’).[1]

RDI for women over age 50 and men over age 70: 1300 mg calcium (4 serves dairy)

RDI for all other adults: 1000 mg calcium (3 serves dairy)

  1. Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus from the gut - two minerals essential to bone health. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones are at risk of becoming thin, brittle or misshapen. Interestingly, almost one quarter [2]of us sun-loving Aussies, have inadequate vitamin D levels!

RDI for adults aged 19–50 years: 5 mcg (or 200IU)

RDI for adults aged 51–70 years: 10 mcg (400IU)

RDI for those over 70 years of age: 15 mcg (600IU)

  1. Protein: Protein is known for muscle, but not everyone realises that it also vital to tissue building and repair, including the maintenance of strong bones. Some research also suggests that higher-protein diets may help preserve muscle health with ageing. In a study of 2000 men and women in their 70s, those who ate more protein (an average of 91 g protein compared to 57 g protein per day) lost 40% less muscle over three years.[3]

RDI for men aged 19–70 years: 64 g/day (0.84 g/kg)

RDI for women aged 19–70 years: 46 g/day (0.75 g/kg)

RDI for men over 70 years of age: 81 g/day (1.07 g/kg)

RDI for women over 70 years of age: 57 g/day (0.94 g/kg)

  1. Magnesium: The body also relies on magnesium to promote strong bones and healthy muscle function. It carries the added benefit of supporting energy metabolism, important for active bodies and helping the body absorb calcium from the diet.

 RDI for men > 30 years: 420 mg/day

RDI for women > 30 years: 320 mg/day 

  1. Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps the body make collagen, a key component cartilage and bones – which play a key role in enabling movement. Without the lubricating and cushioning effects provided by these structures, bone is forced to rub against bone, causing movement to become painful. Vitamin C also helps the body make collagen, a key component of ligaments, cartilage and tendons – the soft tissues that help support and bind our muscles, joints and bones together. [4]

 RDI for all adults: 45 mg/day

 Olympian and Bodiology Ambassador Matt Shirvington, shares how Bodiology offers your body all of these nutrients, supporting joint, muscle and bone health and allowing us to continue to do the things we love.

[1] Lips et al, 2010, Palacios et al, 2006

[2] Reference: ABS 2011-2012 National Nutrition & Physical Activity Survey

[3] Houston et al, 2008, Nowson et al, 2015

[4] Sowers et al, 1999