Bone and joint health are critically important to overall health and quality of life. The bony skeleton serves both a structural function, providing mobility, support and protection for the body, and a reservoir function, as a storehouse for essential minerals. Joints, the location where two or more bones or any rigid parts of the skeleton connect with each other, form a mechanical support to the skeleton and allow a variety of movements in different ranges between the rigid skeletal elements. Several factors contribute to the maintenance of skeletal health including gender, age, body size (weight and height), race and genetics which cannot be altered and other modifiable factors such as hormonal status, lifestyle (nutrition, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity) and perhaps the microbiome?
The human skeleton is a dynamic organ; it is continually undergoing renewal through a cycle of bone resorption and formation know as bone remodelling. Bone cells play a crucial role in maintaining a balance between resorption (osteoclasts) and formation (osteoblasts) during bone remodelling. When this balance is disrupted, bone diseases such as osteoporosis may result. Osteoporosis is a silent and asymptomatic disease characterised by a systemic impairment of bone mass and microarchitecture that results in fragility fractures. With an ageing population, the medical and socioeconomic effect of osteoporosis will continue to increase.
In conjunction with, or as an alternative to, traditional pharmacotherapies, there is an urgent need to develop and implement affordable nutritional approaches (including functional foods) for the prevention, treatment and managements of bone and joint disease such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (a painful and degenerative joint disease). For example, at present there is a wide range of nutraceuticals including bioactive peptides which show promising results for management of osteoporosis. However, their dosage regimen, safety and efficacy need to be evaluated in well-designed and in-depth clinical trials.