Health In Focus
  • Bone mineral density reduces with age, leading to osteoporosis.
  • Certain dairy products and vitamin D supplements can protect against bone loss in older adults, finds a new study.
  • The findings suggest that bone fractures in older adults can be prevented with consumption of dairy products and vitamin D supplements.

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, cream, and yogurt can increase bone mineral density in the spine and hip among older adults who take vitamin D supplements, finds a new study.

A research team from Harvard affiliated Hebrew Senior Life's Institute for Aging Research, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell conducted a study to find the effect of certain dairy products and vitamin D supplements in preventing bone loss among older adults.
Dairy Products and Vitamin D Supplements Protect Against Osteoporosis in Older Adults

Effect of Vitamin D and Dairy Products in Preventing Bone Loss

The association of milk, yogurt, cheese, and cream with bone mineral density in the femoral neck, trochanter, and lumbar spine were examined.

The research team used data from Framingham study, a prospective cohort study involving 862 older Caucasian men and women aged 67-93 years. The mean age of the participants was 75 years. Food frequency questionnaire responses, baseline bone mineral density, and follow-up bone mineral density, were measured in the Framingham study. The number of servings of dairy products was examined. The results were further associated with vitamin D supplements.

The findings showed that
  • Consumption of dairy products alone was not associated with bone mineral density.
  • Among vitamin D supplement users, consumption of milk, cream, cheese and yogurt were associated with higher bone mineral density in the lumbar spine, when compared to the non-users.
  • Increased consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt were found to protect against loss of bone mineral density in trochanter among users of vitamin D supplements when compared to non-users.
Vitamin D stimulates the absorption of calcium, which is beneficial for building bones and preventing bone loss. The findings of the study could lead to better care for older adults in preventing osteoporosis and fracture.

Shivani Sahni, Ph.D. of Hebrew SeniorLife, lead author of the study said,"This study is significant because in addition to milk intake, it also examined the association of other dairy foods such as yogurt, cheese and cream with bone mineral density and bone loss over time. Furthermore, this study clarified that the association of dairy foods with bone density is dependent on adequate vitamin D intake. However, additional studies are needed to confirm these findings using serum vitamin D concentrations."


Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by low bone mineral density, deterioration of bone tissue, which cause bone fragility and increase the susceptibility to fracture. Osteoporosis can lead to loss of physical function, decreased the quality of life and even death.

Facts on Osteoporosis
  • Every year, about 8.9 million fractures occur due to osteoporosis,
  • For every three seconds, one osteoporotic fracture occurs
  • One in three women over age 50 experience osteoporotic fractures
  • One in five men aged over 50 experience osteoporotic fractures
  • Nearly 75% of hip, spine and distal forearm fractures occur among older adults
  • About 20-25% of hip fractures occur in men
How to Prevent Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis can be prevented by keeping the bone healthy and reducing bone loss. A nutritious diet, exercise, and good lifestyle practices can keep the bones strong and prevent bone loss.
  • Diet - Low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified foods such as orange juice, cereals, and bread.
  • Exercise - Walking, jogging, climbing stairs, and lifting weights
  • Healthy Lifestyle- Quitting smoking and alcohol
References :
  1. Shivani Sahni, Kelsey M Mangano, Douglas P Kiel, Katherine L Tucker, and Marian T Hannan. Dairy Intake Is Protective against Bone Loss in Older Vitamin D Supplement Users: The Framingham Study. The Journal of Nutrition (2017). DOI:10.3945/jn.116.240390
  2. Facts and Statistics - (
Source: Medindia

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