Researchers from Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research (IFAR), Wageningen University, Tilburg University, University of Reading, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) have discovered that higher intake of dairy foods, such as milk, yoghurt, and cheese is associated with higher volumetric bone mineral density and vertebral strength at the spine in men.

Dairy intake seems to be most beneficial for men over age 50, and continues to have positive associations irrespective of serum vitamin D status. However, in women, researchers found no significant results, except for a positive association of cream intake in the cross sectional area of the bone.

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

Shivani Sahni, director, nutrition programme, associate scientist, IFAR, and senior author of the study, 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 the serum vitamin D status in a person,” he added.

The results of this study were published recently in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Density.

This research was supported by NIH AR # 053205; FHS N01-HC-25195 R01 AR/AG 41398 and an unrestricted institutional research grant from Dairy Management Inc. Miss van Dongen’s internship was supported by funds from the Dutch Dairy Organisation and Global Dairy Platform.