Is Dairy Good for Osterporosis Prevention?


Physicians commonly recommend milk and dairy products for the purpose of increasing calcium intake to prevent and treat osteoporosis, this however may not turn out to be the best recommendation.


WHITELAND, IN - JULY 20:  Dairy cows eat after...

Dairy cows . (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

As life expectancy has increased, and medical measurement devices have become more sophisticated, osteoporosis has been more commonly diagnosed. Also, osteoporosis and bone loss are becoming better understood. This has brought to light the devastating impact of bone breaks later in life showing greatly increasing chances of death as a result (Kaffashian et al., 2011). The dairy industry has capitalized on the genuine concern about osteoporosis and advertises its products as a solution to the problem.


People in dairy consuming parts of the world have similar to greater osteoporosis diagnosis rates as parts of the world and cultures that do not consume dairy.


Reflected in most studies, areas with the higher milk consumption have the higher rates of osteoporosis, which is found less so in non-milk-drinking countries. While dairy delivers plenty of calcium, the protein content is high, and in these areas if high consumption, dairy is consumed with large amounts of animal protein (sources specifically from meat, chicken, and fish). High levels of protein consumption can compromise calcium blood levels as, calcium is needed in the protein digestion process more so than with carbohydrates and fats. This means that high protein diets can force higher bone turnover, (rapid rate of bone outer layer sacrifice) to accommodate the digestion. This was one of the concerns the medical community had when the Atkins and South Beach diets (high protein diets) became popular. The Eskimo cultural diet is an interesting one to observe, as Eskimos typically consume in excess of 2,000 milligrams of calcium per day, while osteoporosis is rampant in that population. Their diet also consists of primarily animal protein.


What should you do?

For those who would like to add more calcium to their diet, the better food choices can be from dark green vegetables (kale, spinach, and parsley to name a few). Also, it is important to point out that the bones need to require calcium before it can be retained. The requirements are dictated by the levels of force placed on the bone, so the greater the loading, or force placed on the bones the better. Your bones will keep calcium if they need to, so create the need, and then enjoy eating the best quality calcium sources you can find.


Kaffashian, S. Raina, P. Oremus, M. Pickard, L. Adachi, J. Papadimitropoulos, E. and Papaioannou A. (2011.) The burden of osteoporotic fractures beyond acute care: the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study (CaMos). Age Ageing September 1, 2011 40:602-607



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