The benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise have long been promoted by the health industry, but new research presented to the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research shows that a good calcium intake and physical activity can have a real effect when it comes to fighting osteoporosis.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Tyler assessed the effects of current and lifetime behaviours of 50 pre-menopausal Caucasian women with regard to weight-bearing exercise and calcium intake on bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC).
Lifetime calcium consumption and weight bearing exercise were positively associated with higher BMD and BMC."Calcium is the super-nutrient of the new millennium," said Dr. Robert P. Heaney of the Osteoporosis Research Center at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. "And milk is one of the best and most delicious sources of calcium - a nutrient most Americans don't get enough of in their diets.
Research shows that as many as nine out of 10 American women fail to consume the 1,000 mg of calcium a day recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. Three or more glasses of milk a day would provide most of the calcium women need to help maintain strong bones and prevent osteoporosis, according to the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP).
Milk PEP has already had considerable success at promoting milk consumption through its widespread Milk Moustache advertising campaign. Now a new campaign has been launched specifically for women, featuring members of the world famous Cirque du Soleil, each sporting a milk moustache. The tag line reads: Try this at home. We mean the drinking milk part.
"Milk should be a mainstay on everyone's menu," said Kurt Graetzer, MilkPEP's CEO. "The calcium found in milk is a nutrient women can't afford to be without. The fact is, women have to get sufficient calcium when they are young in order to help prevent osteoporosis later in life."
Osteoporosis is a bone disease which causes 1.5 million fractures each year in the US, affecting as many as 28 million people there. One in two women and one in eight men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime according to the most recent data.
Calcium helps keep bones strong and can prevent stress fractures and osteoporosis. But calcium on its own is not enough: bones need a combination of calcium and weight-bearing exercise - activities such as walking, jogging, tennis or weight training - in order to stay strong.
The problem is that many women believe that they have outgrown milk by the time they reach adulthood, although their bones continue to grow in density until they are about 30.