Yogurt May Be Good for the Bones

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Eating yogurt may lead to stronger bones.

Researchers tracked 4,310 Irish adults 60 and older, gathering information on diet and lifestyle with questionnaires. They measured bone density and joint deterioration with X-rays and M.R.I., and tested participants’ physical ability. The study is in Osteoporosis International.

After adjusting for age, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption and other health and behavioral characteristics, they found that compared with those who were not yogurt eaters, people who ate yogurt daily had a 3 percent to 4 percent increase in bone mineral density.

Eating yogurt daily was associated with a 39 percent lower risk of osteoporosis in women and a 52 percent lower risk in men compared with those who did not eat yogurt. Yogurt eaters also performed better on tests of physical fitness.

The lead author, Eamon J. Laird, a research fellow at Trinity College Dublin, said that the study was observational so it could not prove cause and effect.

Still, he said, “The main message is that yogurt is a good source of micronutrients, vitamin D, B vitamins, and calcium — and of protein and probiotics as well. We think it could be a combination of these things that has the beneficial effect.”

He noted that other dairy products did not produce a similar effect and cautioned that some yogurts are high in sugar, “so we have to be careful about that.”