Women should consume plenty of dairy products, especially during menopause, because they are so good for the bones, it is always said. However, a study from May 2020 found that dairy products have no protective effect on the bones, especially in this phase of life.
Dairy products during menopause: Bone density decreases
Dairy products are always referred to as excellent suppliers of nutrients. Of all the food groups, they are said to have a particularly positive effect on bone health. Everywhere you look, dairy products are a guarantee for healthy bones into old age.
Taylor C. Wallace and colleagues from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, have now shown that the consumption of dairy products cannot offer any advantages for bone health, especially during menopause. Because the bone density decreased in the participants of the study – whether they consumed dairy products or not.
During menopause, women should consume a particularly large number of dairy products
It is always said that you should eat plenty of dairy products during menopause. After all, you need a lot of calcium to protect your bones from possible osteoporosis (brittle bones). And since no food contains as much calcium as dairy products, menopausal women should use it regularly.
For example, the Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE), i.e. THE competence and communication center for nutritional issues in Germany, writes in its article Milk: Drink healthy:
“The daily requirement (NB ZDG: of calcium) for an adult (1000 mg) can be achieved, for example, with ½ l milk and two slices of Gouda (60 g). Calcium is important for stable bones and therefore helps to prevent brittle bones in old age ( prevent osteoporosis.”
And in Nutrition in Focus (the BZfE trade journal for consultants) you can read in the article The Women’s Menopause that you should consume three servings of milk and milk products a day in order to be well supplied with the calcium that is so important for the bones. Three servings mean 1 glass of milk, 1 cup of yogurt, and 1 slice of cheese.
However, according to a study from May 2020, these recommendations significantly increase the risk of breast cancer. They may also give women a false sense of security, believing that a good milk supply protects their bones from osteoporosis and fractures, which Taylor C. Wallace’s study found is far from the case.
Dairy products cannot protect against osteoporosis
The work was published in July 2020 in the specialist journal Menopause and, based on data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), showed that milk consumption during menopause, i.e. precisely when the loss of bone density is particularly rapid, has no particular benefit.
The scientists around Wallace had examined the effect of dairy product consumption during menopause on the bone density of the femoral neck and lumbar spinal bones. It is precise during menopause that women are particularly susceptible to osteoporosis.
The result was sobering: in this phase of life, dairy products can neither prevent bone density loss nor osteoporosis and therefore cannot protect against bone fractures.
Of course, when evaluating the study, age, height, weight, smoking status, level of exercise, daily calorie intake, alcohol consumption, calcium intake, etc. were also taken into account.
It is not milk that protects against osteoporosis, but the entire lifestyle
Therefore, do not rely on dairy products if you want to protect your bones during menopause. It is better to rely on an overall diet rich in vital substances, on specifically selected food supplements, and on as much exercise as possible – ideally a combination of these:
- Strength training (well-developed muscles protect bones and joints),
- Walking, hiking, or jogging (strengthens the bones and of course the cardiovascular system) and
- Yoga or Tai Chi for a secure sense of balance, which alone contributes to falling prevention and thus reduces the risk of fractures.