Science Still Agrees: Milk is Good for Your Bones

Posted by Jenna Allen, MS, RDN

Friday, March 13, 2015

Tags: Bone Health, Diet, Nutrition

By 2020, half of all Americans older than 50 will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis and low bone mass, according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis.
 
Half. That’s a pretty staggering number. Want to know how you can prevent it from happening to you?
 
Calcium is the answer. About 99 percent of the calcium in your body is stored in your bones, keeping them strong. Overwhelming scientific evidence indicates that eating the right amount of calcium throughout your life may delay or minimize bone loss and decrease the risk for osteoporosis.

  • 68 out of 70 randomized, controlled intervention studies demonstrated that calcium intake increases bone gain during growth, reduces bone loss with age, and reduces fracture risk.
  • More than three-quarters of 110 observational studies supported calcium’s beneficial role in bone health.

Dairy provides nearly 75 percent of the calcium available in the food supply. Dairy is also an excellent source of several other essential nutrients that work together to help protect bones, including magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein and vitamin D.
 
That means three servings of milk, cheese and yogurt per day can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis later in life. It’s especially important for children and young adults to consumer enough calcium, as they are still building bones mass and establishing lifelong healthy eating habits.

How Much Calcium Do You Need?

AGE

DAILY CALCIUM

MILK RECOMMENDED

2-3

700 mg

2 glasses (610 mg calcium)

4-8

1000 mg

2.5 glasses (752.5 mg calcium)

9 and up

1300 mg

3 glasses (915 mg calcium)

Do I Still Need Calcium as an Adult?
 
Yes. Though your body stops adding new bone after about age 30, it continues to use the calcium stored in your bones as an electrolyte – which is needed for basic body functions.
 
That means your bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. If you don’t replenish that calcium, you could end up with weak, porous bones and eventually osteoporosis – even if you had healthy bones as a kid. So make sure you still get your three a day, whether it’s milk, cheese, yogurt, or the occasional ice cream cone.

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References:

Miller, G.D., J.K. Jarvis, and L.D. McBean. Handbook of Dairy Foods and Nutrition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 3rd edition. 2007, pp.

181-244.

Cashman, K.D. Milk minerals (including trace elements) and bone health. Int. Dairy J. 16: 1389-1398, 2006.

Heaney, R.P. Calcium, dairy products, and osteoporosis. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 19(suppl): 83s-99s, 2000.

Heaney, R.P. The importance of calcium intake for lifelong skeletal health. Calcif. Tissue Int. 70: 70-73, 2002.

 

Jenna Allen, MS, RDN

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