Prevent osteoporosis: Dairy products do not strengthen bones during menopause

Everywhere it is heard that women should consume a lot of dairy products, especially during menopause, as they are very good for the bones. However, one study found that dairy products do not have a protective effect on bones, especially in this phase of life.

Dairy products contain a large amount of calcium, protein, and other nutrients for which they have traditionally been considered especially beneficial for bone health. It is a message that has lasted for decades and that materializes in great consumption by people of all ages. Mothers give children dairy products to support their growth and take them themselves to prevent osteoporosis. As menopause nears, many doctors continue to recommend them for this reason.

However, there are studies that contradict this very rosy panorama for dairy products. Dr. Taylor C. Wallace of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia (USA) and colleagues from Purdue and Pittsburgh Universities have shown that, especially during menopause, the consumption of dairy products cannot offer any benefit for bone health, because the bone density of the participants in his study decreased regardless of their consumption of milk or its derivatives.


Nutritional guidelines in many countries explain that dairy products are the main source of calcium, an essential mineral for bone health. It is often recommended that women consume three servings of dairy a day, for example two glasses of milk and 60 g of cheese. The website of the Spanish Agency for Consumption, Food Safety and Nutrition is that clear: “The current recommendation for milk and dairy products (yogurts and cheeses) is about 2-3 servings a day, and as long as these recommendations are covered, especially in children, it is essential.”

However, according to the American study, in women during menopause, these recommendations do not contribute to bone health.


The work, published in the journal Menopause , is based on data from 2,355 women aged 42 to 53, collected by the so-called “Study of Women”s Health Across the Nation (SWAN)” and has shown that the consumption of dairy products does not improve the bone density of the neck of the femur and the lumbar spine. Dairy also does not reduce the risk of fractures.

Of course , when drawing up the conclusions, the effect of dairy was distinguished from other factors such as height, weight, smoking, physical activity, daily calorie intake, alcohol consumption, and calcium intake.


The true protection against osteoporosis is not found in dairy but in a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Plant foods such as vegetables, legumes, nuts and fruits not only provide all the calcium that is needed, but the minerals are accompanied by many other minerals, vitamins, fiber and antioxidant compounds.

On the other hand, milk contains saturated fat, which increases cardiovascular risk, proteins that cause allergies in some people and lactase, a sugar that is not well tolerated by 40% of adults.

Physical exercise is another very important factor for the state of the bones. In this sense it is recommended:

  • Do strength training(well-developed muscles protect bones and joints), such as with weights, rubber bands, and machines.
  • Walking, hiking, running or swimming(strengthens the bones and of course the cardiovascular system).
  • Practicing yoga or tai chi to improve body self-awareness and balance, which contributes to the prevention of falls and therefore reduces the risk of bone fractures.

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