Cutting out or reducing dairy food could be a “ticking time bomb” for young people’s bone health, UK’s National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) is warning.
A NOS survey found a fifth of under 25s are eliminating or reducing dairy in their diet.
The society said it was concerned many young adults were putting their health at risk by following eating fads.
Cutting out milk products entirely can be harmful unless the missed nutrients are replaced, it says.
The society surveyed 2,000 adults, including 239 under the age of 25 and 339 aged 25-35.
Almost 70% of those aged 18-35 year olds were currently or had previously been dieting.
Image source Flickr
One in five 18-25-year-olds said they had cut out or significantly reduced dairy in their diet, although the survey did not find out why.
Milk and dairy food, such as cheese and yoghurt, are important sources of calcium for strong bones.
The survey suggests that many young people seek dietary advice from bloggers and vloggers on the internet.
Although some of this advice can be good, it’s concerned some people become too restrictive about what they eat.
Dairy products are the main source of calcium – for example, milk, cheese and yoghurt.
Cow’s milk is the best source, but soya and almond milk may also contain calcium if they are fortified.
Skimmed and semi-skimmed milk contain more calcium than full fat cow’s milk.
Vegetables, nuts, seeds, boney fish and white flour products also contain calcium.
Choose low-fat cheese and yoghurt to cut down on fat intake, although crisps and biscuits contain much more fat.
For adults, 700mg of calcium per day is recommended but boys and girls between 11 and 18 need up to 1000mg.
According to experts, recommended levels can be achieved by eating three portions of dairy a day, such as cereal with milk, a yoghurt and a small chunk of cheddar cheese.
According to a new study, healthy adults do not need to take vitamin D supplements.
The study published in The Lancet found the subjects had no beneficial effect on bone density, a sign of osteoporosis.
Experts say many other factors could be at play and people should not stop taking supplements.
University of Auckland researchers analyzed 23 studies involving more than 4,000 healthy people.
The New Zealand research team conducted a meta-analysis of all randomized trials examining the effects of vitamin D supplementation on bone mineral density in healthy adults up to July 2012.
The supplements were taken for an average of two years by the study participants.
Healthy adults do not need to take vitamin D supplements
Bone mineral density is a measure of bone strength and measures the amount of bone mineral present at different sites in the body. It is often seen as an indicator for the risk of osteoporosis, which can lead to an increased risk of fracture.
The trials took place in a number of different countries including the UK, the US, Australia, Holland, Finland and Norway.
Although the results did not identify any benefits for people who took vitamin D, they did find a small but statistically significant increase in bone density at the neck of the femur near the hip joint.
According to the authors, this effect is unlikely to be clinically significant.
Prof. Ian Reid, lead study author, from the University of Auckland, said the findings showed that healthy adults did not need to take vitamin D supplements.
“Our data suggest that the targeting of low-dose vitamin D supplements only to individuals who are likely to be deficient could free up substantial resources that could be better used elsewhere in healthcare.”
Writing about the study in The Lancet, Clifford J. Rosen from the Maine Medical Research Institute agrees that science’s understanding of vitamin D supports the findings for healthy adults, but not for everyone.
“Supplementation to prevent osteoporosis in healthy adults is not warranted. However, maintenance of vitamin D stores in the elderly combined with sufficient dietary calcium intake remains an effective approach for prevention of hip fractures.”
The Department of Health currently recommends that a daily supplement of vitamin D of 10 micrograms (0.01 mg) should be taken by pregnant and breastfeeding women and people over 65, while babies aged six months to five years should take vitamin drops containing 7 to 8.5 micrograms (0.007-0.0085 mg) per day.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that moderate consumption of wine can increase bone mineral density (BMD) and prevent post-menopausal fractures linked to osteoporosis.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia and Kings College London have studied over 1,000 pairs of female of age about 55. The subjects were questioned about their dietary habits and the scientists have measured the thickness of their bones in the hip joint, the spine and the top of the femur. These are the places in which the bones are broken more often when osteoporosis occurred in post-menopause.
Moderate wine drinkers had higher bone density in the spine and the hip than non-drinkers, or drinkers of other types of alcohol (spirit, beer).
A glass of wine a day could prevent osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, stroke and heart attack, but excessive drinking increases risks of these conditions.
A diet of fish and chips, baked beans, meat pies and cooked meats apparently lowered bone mineral density and a diet high in fruit and vegetables seemed to have no substantial benefits.
“Moderate intakes of alcohol from wine were associated with a higher bone mineral density and the consumption of a traditional 20th-century English diet was linked with a lower bone density,” said scientists.
The findings come before World Osteoporosis Day on October 20, 2011.
Polyphenols, found in the skin of grapes, could help the bones strengthening, not the alcohol, other studies have suggested. Polyphenols are known as antioxidants and they help to prevent heart and brain diseases (stroke, Alzheimer’s), besides osteoporosis.
While a glass a day could prevent osteoporisis, and smaller studies have suggested alcohol might have a protective effect, heavy drinking is known as a major factor that weakens the bones, and leads to osteoporosis.
It is not the first time when researchers focus on the linkage between osteoporosis and wine.
Katherine Tucker, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University in Boston, said in 2004 that beer could prevent osteoporosis in men bones, while wine is good for women bones. Beer contains silicon and wine polyphenols. The study was performed on 2,900 men and women, but there were not enough men who had drunk wine, nor women who had drunk beer, thus, the study only linked men to beer and women to wine. However, Professor Tucker said it is possible that men could benefit from two glasses of wine, while women from two cans of beer.
The study was presented at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research annual meeting. Men who drank one to two beers a day had around 7% higher hip bone mineral density than nondrinkers. In women, increase was slightly less but was still significantly better than bone mineral density in nondrinkers.
The same message about the importance of moderation was sent at that time too, because “while two cans of beer or two 6 ounce [177,44 ml] glasses of wine are good for bones, drinking more is harmful,” and about distilled beverages (vodka or Scotch) “daily consumption of more than two drinks promotes osteoporosis,” Professor Tucker said.
What is osteoporosis?
In children bones grow and regenerate rapidly, but in adults the process is slower. Over the age of 30 a person starts to lose bone mineral density. Through life old bone is being destroyed by osteoclasts and new bone is formed by osteoblasts. The osteoblasts (cells that produce new bone) became gradually outnumbered by osteoclasts (cells that remove the calcium and phosphorous from an old bone). The balance between these two types of cells is very important for a healthy bone.
Osteoporosis occurs when bone mineral density is lower. The bones are fragile and break (fracture) easily.
Osteoporosis (porous bones, from Greek: ὀστέον/osteon meaning bone and πόρος/poros meaning pore) is a condition that causes bones to become weak and fragile and to break (fracture) easily. It appears frequently in the spine, wrist and hips. Osteoporosis is called a silent disease because lots of people become aware of it only until a fracture occurs.
The gold standard for diagnosis is dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA, formerly DEXA). It measures bone mineral density and expressed it in standard deviations from a young adult reference population (T-score).
* T-score -1.0 or greater is normal
* T-score between -1.0 and -2.5 is low bone mass (osteopenia)
* T-score -2.5 or below is osteoporosis
Osteoporosis affects an estimated 75 million people in Europe, USA and Japan.
Steroid drugs, smoke, heavy drinking and a family history of osteoporosis are important risk factors.
Worldwide, an osteoporotic fracture is estimated to occur every 3 seconds, a vertebral fracture every 22 seconds.
Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide – approximately one-tenth of women aged 60, one-fifth of women aged 70, two-fifths of women aged 80 and two-thirds of women aged 90.
About 20-25% of hip fractures occur in men. The overall mortality is about 20% in the first 12 months after hip fracture and is higher in men than women.
It is estimated that the lifetime risk of experiencing an osteoporotic fracture in men over the age of 50 is 30%, similar to the lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer. (Source: International Osteoporosis Foundation).
Can osteoporosis be prevented?
First the risk factors have to be removed. Adequate nutrition (with food rich in proteins, calcium and vitamin D), daily moderate sun exposure (to stimulate vitamin D production) and adequate exercise can slow osteoporosis progression and prevent fractures. An excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation increases the risk of skin tumors or melanoma. Childhood and adolescence are the perfect times to improve bone mineral density through exercise and to prevent osteoporosis.
2011 World Osteoporosis Day Animation (video)
Osteoporosis-3D Medical Animation (video)