As you age some bone-loss is natural – for women, however, it can cause osteoporosis where bones become thin and brittle. You probably know that calcium helps keep bones strong, so you might try and make sure you eat yogurt regularly, or drink a glass of milk, but according to new research, some types of dairy products are better for bone density in some parts of the body than others.
Researchers at the Institute for Aging Research, part of Harvard Medical School, US, looked at data from more than 3,000 study participants. They compared details of bone mineral density measurements with the dietary intakes of participants – focusing on milk, yogurt and cream.
They found that milk and yogurt were positively associated with higher bone mineral density in the hip, but not the spine; cream appeared to be associated with lower bone mineral density overall, however. This might be down to the fact that yogurt and milk are often eaten in their low-fat forms, whereas cream is naturally higher in saturated fat.
Eat low-fat dairy. Adults need at least 700mg of calcium per day. That’s three servings of dairy per day. Stick to low-fat to avoid too much saturated fat in your diet.
Munch on greens. Broccoli and green cabbage are good sources of calcium too, as are soya products and nuts. Keep it food-based. You can take a calcium supplement but high quantities of calcium (more than 1500mg) can cause diarrhoea.
Get the D vit. You also need vitamin D for the calcium to be absorbed and used properly by your body. Get yours via a few minutes of sun exposure each day, or through vitamin-D enriched foods, egg yolks, oily fish or supplements.
Lift some weights. Regularly working out with small weights – 15-20 minutes, three times a week, say – will help keep your bones strong too.