Bone Health

Milk and other dairy foods are essential for bone health at all stages of life

Southeast Dairy Association - Bone Health

Our bones support us and allow us to move and protect our brain, heart, and other organs from injury. Bones also store minerals such as calcium and phosphorous which help keep our bones strong. However, bones can become weak and break (fractures) or become porous and brittle (osteoporosis). There are many things that can help keep our bones healthy and strong, and the good news is that it is never too late to take care of your bones.

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” It is often called “the silent disease” as bone loss occurs without any symptoms until testing reveals weak, brittle bones that are more prone to fractures. The U.S. Office of the Surgeon General reports an estimated 10 million Americans over the age of 50 have osteoporosis and another 43 million are at risk of this debilitating disease.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are risk factors for osteoporosis which cannot be controlled: gender, age, body size, family history, and ethnicity. Females are more at risk for osteoporosis than males. Studies suggest that one out of two women break a bone—most often in the hip, spine or wrist—due to osteoporosis.

The Role of Dairy Foods in Keeping Bones Strong

Healthy bones need the mineral, calcium. The best foods sources of calcium are milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified cereals and dark green leafy vegetables. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends three servings of calcium-rich foods every day for children ages nine and older to maintain bone health. Click here for a list of the Top 10 Food Sources of Calcium.

Bones need vitamin D to help absorb calcium. Most people get vitamin D from three sources:

  • Sunlight: Being outside in sunlight about 15 minutes a few times a week helps the body to make vitamin D.
  • Fortified milk: Most milk today is fortified with vitamin D. According to the National Dairy Council, one cup of milk provides nearly a third of the daily requirement of vitamin D.
  • Foods: Only a few foods contain naturally occurring vitamin D: cod liver oil, egg yolks, fatty fish (e.g. salmon), and certain varieties of mushrooms (e.g. maitake and portabella) that are exposed to ultraviolet light.

 

Recommended Calcium and Vitamin D Intakes

Life-stage group Calcium mg/day Vitamin D (IU/day)
Infants 0 to 6 months 200 400
Infants 6 to 12 months 260 400
1 to 3 years old 700 600
4 to 8 years old 1,000 600
9 to 13 years old 1,300 600
14 to 18 years old 1,300 600
19 to 30 years old 1,000 600
31 to 50 years old 1,000 600
51- to 70-year-old males 1,000 600
51- to 70-year-old females 1,200 600
>70 years old 1,200 800
14 to 18 years old, pregnant/lactating 1,300 600
19 to 50 years old, pregnant/lactating 1,000 600
Definitions: mg = milligrams; IU = International Units
Source: Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 2010

Aim to be Active to Keep Bones Strong

In addition to a diet that includes calcium and vitamin D, weight-bearing activities like walking, running, hiking, climbing, dancing and lifting weights are necessary to prevent fractures and maintain healthy bones. Aim for 30 minutes each day, most days of the week.

Recipes for Bone Health

It’s easy to improve your bone health with these easy recipes that are great sources of calcium and vitamin D.

Southeast Dairy Association - Greek Yogurt Dip Trio

Greek Yogurt Dip Trio

Bone Health Resources