bone mineral density (BMD) which is a fancy way to refer to bone thickness. Increased BMD is important for growing youth and also for the elderly, especially to decrease osteoporosis in the latter. Osteoporosis is an abnormal loss of bone thickness and a wearing away of bone tissue.
Although dairy products are a good source of calcium, as pointed out in a prior blog entry, too much supplemental calcium can lead to heart problems in men. In addition, not all dairy products are created equal. In an upcoming study in the Archives of Osteoporosis, researchers at Northeastern University studied the association between various dairy products and BMD in 3212 people over 12 years. Specifically, they examined yogurt, milk, cheese, most dairy (total dairy without cream), and fluid dairy (milk and yogurt).
The study results showed that milk and yogurt were associated with hip BMD but not spine BMD. Milk and yogurt intake also showed a marginally significant protective effect but that this effect needed confirmation with future studies. However, study results also showed that cream might lower BMD. Cheese intake did not improve BMD. The authors concluded that not all dairy products have equal benefits on the skeleton, likely because of different nutritional profiles.
Suggested reading: The Complete Book of Bone Health
Reference: Sahni S, Tucker KL, Kiel DP, Quach L, Casey VA, Hannan MT. (2013). Milk and yogurt consumption are linked with higher bone mineral density but not with hip fracture: the Framingham Offspring Study. Arch Osteoporos. 8(1-2):119.