Dairy and vitamin D supplements protect against bone loss

Researchers from Harvard affiliated Hebrew Senior Life's Institute for Aging Research and University of Massachusetts Lowell have discovered that specific dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are associated with higher bone mineral density in the spine and are protective against bone loss in the hip -- but only among older adults who take Vitamin D supplements.

The study, titled "Dairy intake is protective against bone loss in older vitamin D supplement users: the Framingham Study" was published today in The Journal of Nutrition.

Researchers have found that vitamin D stimulates calcium absorption, which is beneficial for building bones and preventing bone loss overtime. These findings could lead to better care for the estimated 10 million Americans over 50 years of age diagnosed with osteoporosis -- a disease characterized by low bone mass and progressive deterioration of bone tissue. For those affected, osteoporosis can lead to increased risk of fracture, loss of physical function, decreased quality of life, and even death.

According to Lead Author Shivani Sahni, Ph.D. of Hebrew SeniorLife, "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."

Study participants hailed from the Framingham Osteoporosis Study, an off-shoot of the Framingham Heart Study.

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