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Study suggests milk and yogurt could help with bone health

February 4, 2013

Maintaining bone health is important for anyone, particularly seniors. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that maintaining bone health could help seniors prevent falls, which are the most common reasons for emergency room visits in this age group.

There have been many studies examining the link between one's dairy intake and their bone density. Now, new research suggests that there could be some differences in dairy's effect on the bones.

Scientists from the Institute of Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew SeniorLife used a food frequency questionnaire filled out by more than 3,200 people. After the participants completed the questionnaire, the study's authors looked at the participants' dairy intake and bone mineral density (BMD) measurement.

The researchers found that an individual's intake of milk and yogurt could be linked to a higher BMD in the hip. However, the study's authors noted that this did not have the same effect on the spine. Additionally, the researchers reported that while there were benefits from consuming such dairy products as milk and yogurt, other dairy items such as cream did not have the same effect.

"Dairy foods provide several important nutrients that are beneficial for bone health," said lead author Dr. Shivani Sahni. "However, cream and its products such as ice cream have lower levels of these nutrients and have higher levels of fat and sugar. In this study, 2.5 - 3 servings of milk and yogurt intake per day were associated with better bone density. More research is needed to examine the role of cheese intake (some of which can be high in fat and sodium), and whether individual dairy foods have a significant impact in reducing fractures."

Although this research provides some direction on potentially beneficial foods, there are some nutrients already tied to bone health.

According to the NIH, consuming certain nutrients is important to healthy aging, particularly when it comes to maintaining bone density. The news provider suggests incorporating vitamin D and calcium into one's diet to improve health. The NIH recommends women over the age of 50 consume 1,200 mg of calcium a day, while men between the ages of 51 to 70 should eat about 1,000 mg of calcium. After a man turns 70, he should think about upping his calcium consumption to 1,200 mg per day. Additionally, the NIH suggests seniors between the ages of 51 should have at least 600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D on a daily basis and increase that intake to 800 IUs once they turn 71.