Yogurt is a delicious and healthy snack, along with being a great source of essential nutrients including protein and calcium. If you already enjoy yogurt regularly, kudos to you, research says you will most likely have stronger bones compared to someone who doesn’t eat it.
The large observational study found that an increase in yogurt consumption was associated with a higher hip bone density and a significant reduction in osteoporosis risk. Investigators looked at data from older males and females in Ireland.
The researchers found that total hip and femoral neck bone mineral density measures in females were 3.1 to 3.9 percent higher in those who consumed the highest amounts of yogurt compared to those who consumed the least. There were also improvements seen in physical function.
Among men, bone breakdown markers were 9.5 percent lower in those who consumed a lot of yogurt—this is an indication of reduced bone turnover.
The researchers looked at a variety of risk factors that would yield someone to be diagnosed with osteoporosis. These factors included kidney function, physical activity, servings of milk or cheese, calcium and vitamin D supplements, and traditional risk factors for bone health such as smoking status or alcohol consumption. After adjusting for these factors, each increase in yogurt consumption was associated with a 31 percent reduced risk of osteopenia among women and 39 percent lower risk of osteoporosis. In men, there was a 52 percent lower risk of osteoporosis.
Lead author Dr. Eamon Laird explained, “Yogurt is a rich source of different bone promoting nutrients and thus our findings in some ways are not surprising. The data suggest that improving yogurt intakes could be a strategy for maintaining bone health but it needs verification through future research as it is observational.”
Senior investigator Dr. Miriam Casey added, “The results demonstrate a significant association of bone health and frailty with a relatively simple and cheap food product. What is now needed is verification of these observations from randomized controlled trials as we still don’t understand the exact mechanisms which could be due to the benefits of microbiota or the macro and micronutrient composition of the yogurt.”
Yogurt consumption was measured through questionnaires, which also took into account consumption of other foods including other dairy products, meat and fish, and other risk factors related to bone health.
The takeaway here is that yogurt is a safe addition to add to anyone’s diet—unless you’re lactose—which can go a long way in protecting your bones.
Related: Top calcium-rich foods for stronger bones (Hint: They aren’t dairy!)