Increase In Dairy Could Increase Spine Strength 

dairy spine strength

Older men who consume more dairy products have higher bone density and greater spine strength, according to a new study.

Researchers have discovered that a higher intake of dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt, cream and cheese, is associated with greater bone mineral density and stronger vertebrae in men, with the most benefit seen in those aged over 50. 

Bone density

Bone mineral density (or BMD) is a medical term used to refer to the strength of bones based on their calcium content. It is used as an indicator of osteoporosis and fracture risk.

The ‘areal’ BMD is measured in grams per square centimetre of bone, whereas the ‘volumetric’ BMD is measured in grams per cubic centimetre.

While previous research has found that dairy foods are associated with higher areal BMD, on volumetric bone density are lacking. This study addressed this issue by using a technique called quantitative computed tomography (QCT), the only BMD assessment method able to provide a true volumetric measurement.

Dairy study

The study was conducted by researchers from Hebrew SeniorLife's Institute for Aging Research in collaboration with Wageningen University, Tilburg University, the University of Reading and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Participants included 1,522 men and 1,104 women aged between 32 and 81 from the Framingham Heart Study – a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular study on residents of the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. 

The aim was to investigate the impact of milk, yogurt, cheese and cream intake on bone strength, and whether this was affected by vitamin D levels or age (being under or over 50).

Beneficial effects 

The study results, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Density, revealed that a higher intake of dairy foods was associated with higher volumetric bone mineral density and vertebral strength at the spine in men. Dairy consumption was most beneficial for men aged over 50, and the positive effects of increased dairy intake remained regardless of vitamin D levels.

Dr Shivani Sahni, senior author of the study, said: “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.”

Although no significant results were found for women (except for a potential positive effect of cream intake on bone cross-sectional area), this research clearly highlights the potential for older men to improve their bone health by consuming more dairy products.


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