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Dairy and vitamin D supplements protect against bone loss

March 01, 2017

BOSTON -- Researchers from Harvard affiliated Hebrew Senior Life's Institute for Aging Research and University of Massachusetts Lowell have discovered that specific dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are associated with higher bone mineral density in the spine and are protective against bone loss in the hip -- but only among older adults who take Vitamin D supplements.

The study, titled "Dairy intake is protective against bone loss in older vitamin D supplement users: the Framingham Study" was published today in The Journal of Nutrition.

Researchers have found that vitamin D stimulates calcium absorption, which is beneficial for building bones and preventing bone loss overtime. These findings could lead to better care for the estimated 10 million Americans over 50 years of age diagnosed with osteoporosis -- a disease characterized by low bone mass and progressive deterioration of bone tissue. For those affected, osteoporosis can lead to increased risk of fracture, loss of physical function, decreased quality of life, and even death.

According to Lead Author Shivani Sahni, Ph.D. of Hebrew SeniorLife, "This study is significant because in addition to milk intake, it also examined the association of other dairy foods such as yogurt, cheese and cream with bone mineral density and bone loss over time. Furthermore, this study clarified that the association of dairy foods with bone density is dependent on adequate vitamin D intake. However, additional studies are needed to confirm these findings using serum vitamin D concentrations."

Study participants hailed from the Framingham Osteoporosis Study, an off-shoot of the Framingham Heart Study.
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This work was funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the Nation al Institutes of Health under Award Number AR #053205 and also AR/AG41398, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study (HHSN268201500001I), unrestricted institutional grant from the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, NIH's National Institute of Aging (T32-AG023480) and Friends of Hebrew SeniorLife.

About the Institute for Aging Research

Scientists at the Institute for Aging Research seek to transform the human experience of aging by conducting research that will ensure a life of health, dignity and productivity into advanced age. The Institute carries out rigorous studies that discover the mechanisms of age-related disease and disability; lead to the prevention, treatment and cure of disease; advance the standard of care for older people; and inform public decision-making. The Aging Brain Center within IFAR studies cognitive aging and conditions affecting brain health.

About Hebrew SeniorLife

Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is a national senior services leader uniquely dedicated to rethinking, researching and redefining the possibilities of aging. Founded in Boston in 1903, the nonprofit, non-sectarian organization today provides communities and health care for seniors, research into aging, and education for geriatric care providers. For more information about Hebrew SeniorLife, visit http://www.hebrewseniorlife.org, follow us on Twitter @H_SeniorLife, like us on Facebook or read our blog.

About UMass Lowell

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 17,750 students bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers. http://www.uml.edu

Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research

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