Eat more yoghurt for better bones, says study

By Emma Jane Cash

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags: Osteoporosis

Higher hip bone density and a reduced risk of osteoporosis have been found to occur after increased consumption of yoghurt in older women and men in Ireland.

Bone mineral density (BMD) measures in females were seen to increase by 3.1-3.9% and the biomarker for bone breakdown in men was 9.5% lower with increased yoghurt consumption.

The study, led by Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with St James’s Hospital Dublin and investigators from Nutrition at Ulster University, is the largest observational study to date of dairy intakes and bone and frailty measurements.

Better bone health

Osteoporosis is a slow developing condition that weakens bones making them likely to break. It affects over three million people in the UK.

For women in the study who consumed yoghurt more than once a day (high yoghurt consumption group), an increase of 3.1% was seen for total hip BMD, and an increase of 3.9% for total femoral neck BMD was observed.

In males, vertebral BMD was 4.1% in the low yoghurt consumption group compared to the non-consumers.

Results also showed that vitamin D concentrations were 12.9% higher in males in the high yoghurt consumption group compared to non-consumers.

The level of yoghurt consumption also produced differing results for the physical function test, with participants in the highest consumption group scoring significantly higher on a Timed Up and Go (TUG) test than non-yoghurt consumers.

“Daily yoghurt intake was a significant predictor of bone health with each unit increase in yoghurt intake associated with a 31% lower risk of having osteopenia and a 39% lowers risk of being characterized as osteoporotic in females and in males a 52% lower risk of osteoporosis”​ the study concluded.

The study

The study included 4,310 Irish adults over the age of 60.

Participants who were taking medications that could affect bone mineral metabolism, including anti-epileptic medications, were excluded from the BMD and bone biomarker analysis.

As well as BMD and physical function, researchers analysed BMI, kidney function, physical activity, consumption of milk or cheese, calcium or vitamin D supplements, smoking and alcohol.

Data for lifestyle factors were obtained by questionnaires, including full details of dietary supplements and vitamin use.

Food frequency questionnaires (FFQ) were used to collect participants’ preferences on consuming yoghurt, milk and/or cheese and the frequency of each dairy.

These results were then separated into three groups; non-consumers, low consumers and high consumers.

Consumption of total meat, total fish and eggs were also monitored.

Blood samples were collected from participants and BMD was measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) performed at the hip femoral neck and the vertebral column.

Physical function was monitored through the use of TUG tests, which measures the time it takes to rise from a chair, walk three meters, turn around, walk back to the chair and sit down again.

For the TUG test, a time of 12 seconds or more has been reported as an indication of reduced mobility.

Source: Osteoporosis International

Published online: DOI: 10.1007/s00198-017-4049-5

“Greater yoghurt consumption is associated with increased bone mineral density and physical function in older adults”

Authors: Eamon Laird, Ph.D., Mary Ward, Kevin McCarroll, Leane Hoey, Catherine F. Hughes, Conal Cunningham, JJ Strain, Helene McNulty, Miriam Casey.

Related topics: Science, Dairy, Dairy-based ingredients

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