Dairy intake early on improves adolescent bone health

August 13th, 2008 - 3:53 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Aug 13 (IANS) Adolescents who had consumed two or more servings of dairy products daily as children have been found to have higher levels of bone mineral content and bone density than those who did not. Until recently, it was unclear how long-term dairy intake contributes to bone health in children, including bone density, bone mineral content and bone area.

Lynn Moore and colleagues from Boston University School of Medicine analysed data from Framingham Children’s Study to find the link between childhood dairy intake and adolescent bone health.

The researchers gathered information from 106 children, aged between three to five years at the beginning of the study, over a 12-year period. The families enrolled in the study were given food diaries to complete for the child and were asked to record everything the child ate and drank for several days each year.

The researchers used these diaries, along with information from the US Department of Agriculture, to calculate the children’s average daily intake of dairy and other foods.

At the end of the 12-year period, the authors assessed the bone health of the now adolescent study participants. Adolescents who had consumed two or more servings of dairy daily as children had higher levels of bone mineral content and bone density.

Even after adjusting for factors that affect normal bone development, including the child’s growth, body size, and activity level, the authors found that these adolescents’ average bone mineral content was 175 grams higher than the adolescents who had consumed less than two servings of dairy products daily.

Researchers also evaluated the combined effects of dairy products and other foods consumed by the participants. Moore said “children who consumed two or more servings of dairy and four ounces of meat or other non-dairy protein had bone mineral contents over 300 grams higher than those children with lower intakes of both dairy and other proteins.”

Moore pointed out that “dairy is a key source of proteins, calcium, and other micronutrients including phosphorus and vitamin D”.

The study is scheduled for publication in The Journal of Paediatrics.

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