The Likely Importance of Specific Dairy Foods in Relation to Bone Health: Current Knowledge and Future Challenges
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Osteoporosis is a major public health problem affecting over 200 million people worldwide. The 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans recommend consuming 3 cups/day of fat-free or low-fat dairy products for adults. Although individual nutrients usually found in dairy products may be beneficial for bone health, few studies have directly compared specific types of dairy foods. Yet it has been suggested that dairy foods are not equivalent vehicles of calcium due to their different nutrient profile. While studies of milk intake and bone mineral density (BMD) are plentiful and mostly positive, the evidence for hip fracture risk reduction remains weak. Studies on yogurt intake and bone health have been very few but promising though the role of probiotics in yogurt on bone is unclear. It is unclear how other dairy foods may relate to bone health. Few studies that have examined cheese intake have focused either on intake of total cheese or a specific low-fat variety. High-fat/high-sugar dairy foods like cream and ice cream have low nutrient density and are widely consumed, yet very little is known about their impact on the skeleton. The additive and synergistic role of sodium and saturated fats along with other bone-specific nutrients (e.g., calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, protein) in cream and cheese is complicated and needs further clarification. Future studies should (i) aim to resolve the disparate findings from BMD studies versus fracture studies on milk intake, (ii) clarify the role of probiotics in calcium absorption and bone health, (iii) focus on the skeletal effects of low-fat cheese and the influence of sodium content of the different cheeses, and (iv) focus on dairy food products instead of single nutrients within dairy while at the same time considering nutrient profiles of specific dairy foods. Overall, the studies that are highlighted in this chapter suggest a significant role for dairy intake in maintaining bone health.
KeywordsDairy Milk Yogurt Cheese Cream Bone mineral density Hip fracture Dietary intake Bone health
Potential Conflict of Interest/Disclosure
Dr. Shivani Sahni has grants from General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition.
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