How eating yoghurt stops your bones becoming brittle
A yoghurt a day can help to keep brittle bones at bay.
An Irish scientific study of older people who have a higher consumption of yoghurt found that they had stronger hip bones and significantly reduced risk of osteoporosis, the disease which leads to a loss of bone strength and higher risk of fracture.
The study was led by Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with St James's Hospital, Dublin, and co-investigators from Ulster University, Coleraine.
They took into account factors such as the person's BMI, kidney function, exercise levels, consumption of milk or cheese, as well as any calcium or vitamin D supplements.
Risk factors such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol were also looked at.
"After adjusting for all these factors, each unit increase in yoghurt intake in women was associated with a 31pc lower risk of osteopenia - weakening of the bone - and 39pc lower risk of osteoporosis.
"In men, a 52pc lower risk of osteoporosis was found. Vitamin D supplements were also associated with significantly reduced risks both in men and women," said the researchers.
Around 300,000 people in Ireland are believed to suffer from osteoporosis and the cost of fractures in Europe annually is €650m.
The participants, who included 1,057 women and 763 men, were given a questionnaire and categorised their yoghurt consumption as "never, 2-3 times per week and more than one serving per day".
Dr Eamon Laird, of the Centre for Medical Gerontology in Trinity, who led the research, said: "Yoghurt is a rich source of different bone-promoting nutrients and thus our findings in some ways are not surprising.
"The data suggest that improving yoghurt intakes could be a strategy for maintaining bone health but it needs verification through future research."
Dr Miriam Casey, a senior investigator and specialist at St James's Hospital, pointed out: "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 randomised controlled trials. We don't understand the exact mechanisms which could be due to the benefits of micro-biota or the macro and micro nutrient composition of the yoghurt."