MooScience: the science of milk


Dairy Boosts Bone Health and Prevents Hip Fractures

Milk and Yogurt May Increase Bone Density and Decrease Hip Fractures

Consuming more milk and yogurt is associated with having a higher hip bone mineral density (Sahni et al. 2013). A follow-up study by the same scientists found that higher milk and yogurt intake also prevents hip fractures (Sahni et al. 2014).

This protective effect may be due to increased bone density. Sahni et al. (2014) reported a 40% decrease in hip fractures in people with a medium/high milk intake compared to those with a low milk intake.


Dairy Enhances Bone Health

Dairy may help enhance biomarkers for healthy bones. Women who ate a diet higher in protein and dairy had better biomarkers for healthy bones when compared to women eating a lower protein and dairy diet. MooScience: many colored cows

Picture: You can't always tell a cow by their coat. Both beef and dairy cows come in many colors! Mother's milk will help this white faced beef calf develop strong healthy bones.

Ninety overweight and obese women were divided into three diets: diet #1 high protein and high dairy (30% protein, 15% energy from dairy foods, 1600 mg calcium), diet #2 adequate protein and medium dairy (15% protein, 7.5% energy from dairy foods, 1000 mg calcium), and diet #3 adequate protein and low dairy (15% protein, 2% energy from dairy foods, less than 500 mg calcium).

Women lost the same amount of weight on all three diets. However, women on the diets higher in dairy, calcium and protein had better bone health biomarkers. In particular, the high dairy and protein diet women had an increase in the bone building protein, osteocalin, and the bone formation marker, procollagen 1 amino-terminal propeptide (P1NP), while markers indicating bone resorption remained the same (Josse at al. 2012).

In addition, women on a high or adequate protein and dairy diet showed increased adiponectin concentrations. Adiponectin is produced by adipose tissue and helps modulate glucose and lipid metabolism (Chandran et al. 2003). Higher adiponectin concentrations may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in humans (Weyer et al. 2001, Stefan et al. 2002).


MooScience: a lone heifer returns to the herd.  Drinking milk may help strenghten bones.Why does Dairy Help Bone and Muscle Health?

Dairy products like milk and yogurt are great natural sources for protein, calcium, phosphorous and other nutrients. In addition, most dairy is fortified with vitamin D. All of these nutrients are important for building strong bones and muscles (Bonjour et al. 2013).

Protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D interact through cellular and physiological pathways. These pathways promote maintenance and health of bone structure and function. For example, protein stimulates bone formation by increased calcium and phosphorus absorption from food in the gut. Protein also encourages production of a bone growth factor, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which encourages osteoblast-mediated bone formation (Dawson-Hughes 2003).

Sadly, a lot of people are deficient in these important nutrients. In the United States many people consume a diet that is rich in calories but low in nutrients (Drenowski 2010). This type of diet is normally called energy rich and nutrient poor.

There is no one magic nutrient to prevent bone or muscle loss. What is important is the interaction of different nutritional factors. Nutrients in dairy help prevent bone loss while encouraging bone and muscle growth. The interaction of protein, calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D reduce bone resorption while they increase bone formation. This helps alleviate age-related bone loss.


7 signs you have an energy rich and nutrient poor diet:

  1. The workers at Burger King named a booth for you. Eating out more is associated with a higher risk of obesity and nutritional deficiencies (Larson et al. 2011, Bezerra et al. 2012).
  2. Over 60% of your diet consists of carbohydrates/sugar type foods (bonus points if most of these foods are not found growing on farms; and no, there are no corn flake farms).
  3. You count your strawberry pop tart as one serving of fruit.
  4. You eat less than 2 servings of fruits and vegetables a day even when ketchup is factored in to the equation.
  5. If it wasn't for french fries you would already have scurvy from vitamin C deficiency.
  6. You think of a 64 oz soda as a single serving.
  7. You feel tired and draggy all the time.


7 Easy ways to improve your diet:

  1. Add a fun healthy dairy snack, such as yogurt, chocolate milk or string cheese, to lunch and/or dinner.
  2. Replace one of your processed food choices with real unprocessed food. For example, replace white bread with protein packed whole wheat and nut bread. Real food takes more energy to digest than processed food! This can help you lose weigh while eating the same amount of calories!
  3. Replace the candy jar on your desk with higher protein snacks, such nuts, jerky or yogurt. If you don't want to totally ditch the candy dish at least hide it in a desk drawer. Studies show that people eat less candy if it is not in sight.
  4. Eat a fruit, any fruit, as a high-fiber and vitamin-packed pick me up during the day. Eating one apple before a meal will reduce the calories you eat during the meal.
  5. Replace the empty carbohydrate calories in your diet with protein and fat choices. For example, instead of a bag of potato chips reach for a high protein Greek yogurt or a handful of nuts. It is better for you and will keep you feeling full longer.
  6. If you want to lose weight without too much hassle, simply eat your normal diet but cut out 1/3 of the food. For example, if you normally eat 3 slices of pizza replace it with 2 slices or instead of 3 cups of mashed potatoes eat 2 cups.
  7. Fast for 12 hours at night. This changes how your body metabolizes carbohydrates and improves your epigenetic profile.



  • Bezerra IN, Curioni C, Sichieri R. Nutr Rev. 2012 Feb;70(2):65-79. Association between eating out of home and body weight. Pubmed. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00459.x
  • Bonjour JP, Kraenzlin M, Levasseur R, Warren M, Whiting S. Dairy in adulthood: from foods to nutrient interactions on bone and skeletal muscle health. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32:251-63. Pubmed. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2013.816604 (full text)
  • Chandran M, Phillips SA, Ciaraldi T, Henry RR. Adiponectin: more than just another fat cell hormone? Diabetes Care. 2003;26:2442-50. Pubmed. Full text.
  • Dawson-Hughes B. Interaction of dietary calcium and protein in bone health in humans. J Nutr. 2003;133:852S-854S. Pubmed.
  • Drewnowski A. The cost of US foods as related to their nutritive value. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;92:1181–1188. Pubmed. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.29300
  • Josse AR, Atkinson SA, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Diets higher in dairy foods and dietary protein support bone health during diet- and exercise-induced weight loss in overweight and obese premenopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012;97:251-60. Pubmed. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-2165
  • Larson N, Neumark-Sztainer D, Laska MN, Story M. Young adults and eating away from home: associations with dietary intake patterns and weight status differ by choice of restaurant. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Nov;111:1696-703. Pubmed. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.08.007.
  • Rosado JL, Díaz M, González K, Griffin I, Abrams SA, Preciado R. The addition of milk or yogurt to a plant-based diet increases zinc bioavailability but does not affect iron bioavailability in women. J Nutr. 2005;135:465-8. Pubmed.
  • Stefan N, Vozarova B, Funahashi T, Matsuzawa Y, Weyer C, Lindsay RS, Youngren JF, Havel PJ, Pratley RE, Bogardus C, Tataranni PA. Plasma adiponectin concentration is associated with skeletal muscle insulin receptor tyrosine phosphorylation, and low plasma concentration precedes a decrease in whole-body insulin sensitivity in humans. Diabetes. 2002;51:1884-8. Pubmed. Full text.
  • Sahni S, Mangano KM, Tucker KL, Kiel DP, Casey VA, Hannan MT. Protective Association of Milk Intake on the Risk of Hip Fracture: Results from the Framingham Original Cohort. J Bone Miner Res. 2014 Apr 24. Pubmed. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.2219
  • Sahni S, Tucker KL, Kiel DP, Quach L, Casey VA, Hannan MT. Milk and yogurt consumption are linked with higher bone mineral density but not with hip fracture: the Framingham Offspring Study. Archives of Osteoporosis, 2013;8:119. Pubmed. doi: 10.1007/s11657-013-0119-2
  • Weyer C, Funahashi T, Tanaka S, Hotta K, Matsuzawa Y, Pratley RE, Tataranni PA. Hypoadiponectinemia in obesity and type 2 diabetes: close association with insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 2001;86:1930–1935. Pubmed