A childhood diet rich in dairy products builds strong bones for the growing child but a new study from Boston University School of Medicine indicates that the same diet continues to ensure healthy bones until the child is well into adolescence. The findings of the study will soon be available in The Journal of Pediatrics.
Enlisting 106 3- to 5-year-old children for a 12-year study, Dr. Lynn Moore and colleagues analyzed food diaries that recorded all foods and beverages a child consumed for a period of several days each year. Measures of bone health – bone area, density, and mineral content – were taken at the end of the study period.
Analysis revealed much healthier bones in the teens who routinely ate two or more servings of dairy products a day when they were children. These adolescents had denser bones and the mineral content of them was an average of 175 grams higher than the bone mineral content of the study participants who ate less than two daily servings of dairy during childhood.
When two or more servings of dairy in childhood was supplemented with four ounces of meat or other nondairy source of protein, the mineral content of these teens’ bones was more than 300 grams higher than that of teens who hadn’t eaten as much dairy and protein as children.
In addition to being key sources of calcium and protein, dairy foods are also rich in phosphorus, vitamin D, and other important micronutrients. The research team would like to see more parents promoting dairy foods as a routine part of their children’s diets to ensure stronger bones in both childhood and adolescence.