Dairy intake tied to bone strength in older men

October 27, 2004 in Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

Dairy intake tied to bone strength in older men

Elderly men who consume more dairy products have stronger bones, and the effect is the same in both black and white men, a new study from Purdue University shows.

While dairy consumption and adequate calcium intake are known to help maintain bone strength in elderly women, who are the group at greatest risk for developing the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, the effect of diet on bone health in men and non-white individuals is not as clear.

To investigate, the researchers studied the relationship between nutrition and bone density in 745 black and white men and women over 60 years old. The white individuals were also participating in a four-year study of the effect of calcium and vitamin D supplements on bone mineral density.

Overall, black men and women consumed more calcium than whites, 700 milligrams per day compared to 654 mg/day, but well below the recommended daily requirement of 1200 mg for older people. Men took in an average of 735 mg/day, compared to 655 mg/day for women.

Higher consumption of dairy foods was associated with greater bone mineral density at the hip and upper thigh bone for both black and white men, the researchers found, but the relationship between dairy consumption and bone strength was not significant for women.

In the supplementation portion of the trial, individuals who consumed less than 1.5 servings of dairy each day showed greater bone strength benefits from calcium supplementation than those who consumed more dairy products. Supplementation also had a greater effect on bone mineral density in individuals 72 years old or younger.

Calcium was the main dairy nutrient associated with bone mineral density, the researchers found, but intake of other nutrients found in dairy foods, such as magnesium and phosphorous, were also linked to stronger bones.

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