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Dairy intake associated with higher bone density and spine strength in older men

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A higher intake of dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt, cheese and cream, is associated with higher bone density and greater spine strength in men, according to a new study.

Dairy consumption seems to be most beneficial for men over the age of 50, and continued to have positive associations regardless of serum vitamin D status.

The researchers found no significant results for dairy foods in women, except for a positive association of cream intake in the cross-sectional area of the bone.

The study involved researchers from Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research (IFAR), Wageningen University, Tilburg University, the University of Reading, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

While previous research has found that dairy foods are associated with higher areal bone mineral density, data on bone geometry and compartment-specific bone density was lacking.

The new study included 1,522 men and 1,104 women from the Framingham Heart Study, aged 32-81 years. The researchers examined quantitative computed tomography (QCT) measures of bone to determine associations with dairy intake.

Dr Shivani Sahni, senior author of the paper, said: “This study related dairy intake with QCT-derived bone measures, which are unique because they provide information on bone geometry and compartment-specific bone density that are key determinants of bone strength. The results of this study highlight the beneficial role of a combination of dairy foods upon bone health, and these beneficial associations remain irrespective of serum vitamin D status in a person.”

The findings have been published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Density.

Last year, a study in Ireland found that older people who eat more yogurt have better bone health and a significantly reduced risk of osteoporosis.