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Dairy and Protein May Keep Your Bones Healthy When Dieting

An unwanted side effect of losing weight is that it can be accompanied by a loss in bone mass and density. Researchers from McMaster University in Canada have discovered that eating dairy products and higher amounts of protein while losing weight could help maintain good bone health.

Their findings were published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism on November 9, 2011,

The study included 90 overweight or obese premenopausal women. The participants were split into three groups:

1. One group followed a high protein, high dairy diet

2. One group followed an adequate protein, medium dairy diet

3. One group followed an adequate protein, low dairy diet.

All of the diets included a modest calorie restriction and all of the participants followed a routine that included daily aerobic exercise and resistance training.

Weight loss was consistent across the groups, but the scientists noted that the high protein, high dairy group showed improvements in markers of bone turnover, calcium, vitamin D status, and bone metabolism when compared with the other groups. The high protein, high dairy group also showed reductions in markers of bone degradation.

The researchers concluded that women who are dieting in order to lose weight should consume more protein from dairy sources in order to avoid adversely affecting bone health.

Dairy consumption has also been linked with diabetes prevention, weight loss, and improved mental functioning. These health benefits are most likely the result of the many healthy nutrients found in dairy, such as vitamin D, phosphorous and magnesium.

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