The Consumer Education Project of Milk SA

What is the role of dairy in bone health?

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Dairy contains many ‘bone-friendly’ nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. Adequate intake of dietary protein (dairy is a good source of good-quality protein) is also recommended to promote bone health and to prevent osteoporosis.

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Dairy contains many ‘bone-friendly’ nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. Adequate intake of dietary protein is also recommended to promote bone health and to prevent osteoporosis. Owing to the interaction between calcium and protein, both should be consumed in adequate amounts to optimise the beneficial dietary effects on bone health. Dairy products – especially milk – have a high calcium–protein ratio. Without dairy intake, it is difficult to meet calcium requirements and some of the beneficial effects of this mineral appear to be dairy specific, possibly owing to the optimal proportion of nutrients in dairy (dairy matrix).

We should all strive to increase our consumption of dairy to ensure healthy bones throughout our life. The awareness about adequate intake of bone-building protein and minerals should start in childhood already and continue throughout life. Extra care should be taken to consume enough dairy during the teenage years, when 50% of your potential bone mass is acquired.
Promoting bone health also has an economic impact, as annual health care costs related to hip fractures can be considerably reduced if dairy intake is increased.

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