Dairy Plus Vitamin D for Healthy Bones

Milk – it does a body good, right?  It is well known that dairy products are essential for healthy bones by helping us meet our daily calcium requirement.  But you could drink 8 glasses of milk a day and it wouldn’t matter without vitamin D to help your body absorb the calcium.

Researchers from Harvard 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 in The Journal of Nutrition. The findings revealed that Vitamin D stimulates calcium absorption, which is beneficial for building bones and preventing bone loss over time. The research could lead to better care for people over 50 years of age diagnosed with osteoporosis — a disease characterized by low bone mass and progressive deterioration of bone tissue.

According to researchers, “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.”

The sun is our best source of vitamin D, but now more than ever; people aren’t getting enough sun exposure to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D. Many of us are actually deficient in vitamin D.  Daily supplementation is the easiest way to ensure proper vitamin D levels so our bodies can absorb the calcium necessary for bone health.

Researchers concluded that for those affected, osteoporosis can lead to increased risk of fracture, loss of physical function, decreased quality of life and even death, so anything we can do to increase our bone mineral density is of utmost importance.