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Older adults with the highest yoghurt intakes are likely to have better bone density and a lower risk of osteoporosis.

The largest observational study to date of dairy intakes and bone and frailty measurements in older adults, led by Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, has found that increased yoghurt consumption was associated with a higher hip bone density and a significantly reduced risk of osteoporosis in older women and men on the island of Ireland, after taking into account traditional risk factors.

Total hip and femoral neck bone mineral density measures in females were 3.1-3.9% higher among those with the highest yoghurt intakes compared to the lowest and improvements were observed in some of the physical function measures (6.7% better). In men, the biomarker of bone breakdown was 9.5% lower in those with the highest yoghurt intakes compared to the lowest. This is an indication of reduced bone turnover.

To determine risk factors for being diagnosed as osteoporotic, the research team analysed a wide range of factors such as BMI, kidney function, physical activity, servings of milk or cheese, and calcium or vitamin D supplements as well as traditional risk factors for bone health (e.g. smoking, inactivity, alcohol etc.). After adjusting for all these factors, each unit increase in yoghurt intake in women was associated with a 31% lower risk of osteopenia and a 39% lower risk of osteoporosis. In men, a 52% lower risk of osteoporosis was found. Vitamin D supplements were also associated with significantly reduced risks both in men and women.