Science Says Dairy Sources of Vitamin D Reduce the Risk of Osteoporosis

Vitamins are important micronutrients that play crucial roles in the physiological and metabolic processes in the body.

Most vitamins cannot be synthesized by humans, so they must be obtained through diet or supplementation.

Depending on solubility, they can be water-soluble (B complex and vitamin C) and fat-soluble (vitamins A, D, E, and K).

Vitamin D and calcium are very important for bone mass and any deficiency may result in an increased risk of osteoporosis.

Vitamin D and certain minerals help with calcium absorption and homeostasis, which is why maintaining a balanced intake of these nutrients is vital.

A recent review published in the journal Nutrients discusses the dietary intake of vitamin D from dairy sources and its ability to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

What’s Important

In nature, vitamin D is mainly found in plants and or plant products as ergocalciferol (vitamin D2), and as cholecalciferol (D3) in animal source foods.

Sunshine is also an important factor in getting enough vitamin D3.

Human skin can synthesize vitamin D3 when exposed to sunlight, however, this ability decreases with age when the risk of deficiency increases.

The same applies to people of any age who live in areas with low sunlight exposure.

Therefore, an adequate diet abundant in vitamin D and/or supplementation is crucial.

Fatty fish, fish oil, and egg yolks are the most important food sources of vitamin D, but many people don’t eat these foods often.

Why Does it Matter

Vitamin D deficiency leads to loss of bone mineral density and loss of bone structure, which causes osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, in turn, increases the risk of bone fractures, especially hip and femur fractures.

The bone mineral density is prone to decrease faster in the winter months compared to the summer due to the lower sun exposure.

In this case, adequate vitamin D supplementation during the winter can stop this process.

In all other cases, supplementation of vitamin D together with calcium is highly advisable, especially for older adults.

More Details

Dairy products as a source of vitamin D have been investigated for a long time.

Milk is very nutritious, providing different nutrients like carbohydrates (lactose), proteins, fat, vitamins, and minerals.

It’s a natural source of both vitamin D and calcium, which makes it a great choice to include in your diet to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

However, the consumption of raw milk has decreased compared to the past and it’s no longer a primary dietary source of vitamin D.

On the other hand, the intake of cheese is significantly increased since 1980.

The modern world has influenced the way some nutrients are consumed and nowadays many foods are fortified to provide the recommended intake of vitamin D.

Vitamin D fortification of different foods has proved to be an effective way to increase the intake of vitamin D3 through diet.

In Conclusion

Vitamin D is crucial for bone health and for preventing the onset of osteoporosis. Vitamin D also helps to promote calcium absorption, which is why they’re often taken together.


Resource: Polzonetti, V.; Pucciarelli, S.; Vincenzetti, S.; Polidori, P. Dietary Intake of Vitamin D from Dairy Products Reduces the Risk of Osteoporosis. Nutrients 2020, 12, 1743. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061743 

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