A study by research team at the Institute for Aging Research [IFAR] at Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School [HMS], has observed that those who consume milk and yogurt have higher bone mineral density [BMD] in the hip. However, the spine does not show the higher bone density. It was found that milk cream, though a derivative of milk, does not provide such a benefit.
“Dairy foods provide several important nutrients that are beneficial for bone health,” says lead author Shivani Sahni, Ph.D., Musculoskeletal Research Team, IFAR. “However, cream and its products such as ice cream have lower levels of these nutrients and have higher levels of fat and sugar. In this study, 2.5 – 3 servings of milk and yoghurt intake per day were associated with better bone density. More research is needed to examine the role of cheese intake [some of which can be high in fat and sodium], and whether individual dairy foods have a significant impact in reducing fractures.”
IFAR researchers studied the data collected from a food frequency questionnaire completed by 3,212 participants from the Framingham Offspring study. They also tried to see if any correlation exists in the participants’ dairy intake and their BMD score. It was clear, among largely middle-aged men and women who were studied, that milk and yoghurt helped where as cream did not .
This study is an example of a growing area of research focused on the relationship between nutrition and bone health. Past studies suggest that dairy products contain more than one beneficial nutrient, and for this reason certain dairy products may contribute towards maintaining healthier bones.