Benefits for Bones: Dairy’s Lifelong Osteoporosis Prevention
More than 54 million Americans have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing osteoporosis due to low bone mass. Fractures due to osteoporosis can result in chronic pain, long-term disability and, surprisingly, death.
Strong bones are healthy bones. With May being Osteoporosis Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to touch base on ways we can maintain bone health.
We need to start caring for our bones at an early age, helping them reach peak bone mass, which is associated with reduced risk of osteoporosis later in life. Research continues to support the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations to consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods for children and adolescents ages 9 years and older as part of a nutrient-rich diet, along with adequate physical activity, to help achieve peak bone mass. Dairy foods are nutrient rich and taste great. Best of all, these benefits come from just three servings of milk, cheese and yogurt every day.
Throughout childhood and early adulthood, bones are growing in length, width and mass. Dairy’s unique nutrient package provides the right materials for building bones: calcium and phosphorus fortify the skeleton; vitamin D maintains calcium supply; protein supports the structure and aids in flexibility. In fact, dairy provides nearly 75 percent of the calcium available in the food supply for bone-building nutrition. Encouraging children to drink their milk helps create lifelong habits.
Osteoporosis prevention should begin in childhood, but it shouldn’t end there. Getting the right nutrition and pairing that with physical activity helps keep bones healthy at all ages. Many different populations are struggling to get enough vitamin D and calcium, two key nutrients for maintaining healthy bones. Giving your clients the resources to follow a healthy eating pattern is essential to preventing the development of osteoporosis. Three servings of dairy a day provide the calcium and vitamin D that everyone needs. Physical activity is another important piece of the puzzle.
With aging populations, nutrition and physical activity become more important than ever. High-protein diets and resistance exercise help seniors maintain their muscle and bone health as they age. Ensuring they are getting enough protein–high-quality protein–is key. Encourage your older patients to focus on getting 25-30 grams of high-quality protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Milk is a great start, with 8 grams of high-quality protein in each 8-ounce glass. Dairy foods are easy additions to any meal to ensure you’re getting that high-quality protein along with eight other essential nutrients needed every day.
Still Does a Body Good
I know when I reach for that cold glass of delicious chocolate milk, I am modeling healthy eating and ensuring my bones stay healthy for a lifetime. As a mom of two, I can be confidant serving my kids milk to build strong bones.
- Learn more about dairy’s role in bone health.
Explore our favorite recipes to help you and your clients get three servings of dairy every day.