The study, Association of Dairy Intake with Body Composition and Physical Function in Older Community-Dwelling Women, found that elderly female participants that consumed more than 2.2 servings of dairy per day typically had greater body mass and better physical performance.
The frequency of falls among the participants also decreased with increased dairy intake.
The Australian study, which was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, investigated the association of dairy intake with body composition, physical function and the risk of falling in nearly 1,500 community-dwelling women.
“Our results suggest that higher dairy intake is associated with greater lean body mass and better physical performance,” said the study.
“The components in dairy responsible for the benefits seen in muscle mass are still unknown; however, dairy might play a role in different ways, such as providing high-quality proteins and calcium, or enhancing growth factors, which can consequently increase muscle mass.”
Higher intake, greater strength
Following a food frequency questionnaire, the 1,456 participants were categorized into three groups based on their consumption of milk, yogurt and cheese.
Those that consumed less than 1.5 servings per day were categorized in the first group. The second included participants that reported eating between 1.5 and 2.2 servings per day, and those that reported eating in excess of 2.2 servings per day were placed in group three.
Body composition was then assessed, and physical performance was evaluated using hand-grip strength and Timed Up and Go tests. Data on falls in the previous three months were also collected.
“Our study suggests that higher dairy intake is related to a greater lean body mass in older women. These results agree with those of a randomized controlled trial in younger adults, which showed better maintenance of lean body mass in those reporting a high dairy intake (3 servings/day) compared with low dairy intake (<1 serving/day),” said the study.
Hand grip strength was also found to be "greater" in those in group three compared to those in the first group.
“Prevalence of reported falls in the past three months decreases with increased dairy intake,” it added.
On the whole, the results "suggest an association of higher dairy intake with greater whole body lean mass and better physical performance in older women," said the study.
Source: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 10.1016/j.jand.2013.05.019
‘Association of Dairy Intake with Body Composition and Physical Function in Older Community-Dwelling Women’
Authors: Simone Radavelli-Bagatini, Kun Zhu, Joshua R Lewis, Satvinder S Dhaliwal, Richard L Prince