, Volume 18, Issue 12, pp 1661-1667
Date: 17 Jul 2007

Dietary protein intake and bone mineral content in adolescents—The Copenhagen Cohort Study

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Data indicate that various protein sources may exhibit a differential effect on bone metabolism. We investigated associations of milk and meat protein intake with bone mineral content (BMC) in adolescents. Milk, but not meat, protein intake was positively associated with size-adjusted BMC. Milk-derived protein may be beneficial for bone mineralization.


Milk and meat protein intake has been reported to exhibit a differential effect on serum insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). IGF-I plays a key role in bone metabolism. Therefore, we investigated associations of different protein sources with BMC and bone area (BA) in adolescents.


This was a cross-sectional study of 17-year-old girls (n = 63) and boys (n = 46) participating in the second follow-up of The Copenhagen Cohort Study. We measured dietary intake (7-day food record), BMC and BA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), serum markers for bone turnover and serum IGF-I (immunoassays).


The mean total protein intake (∼1.2 g/kg) was modestly higher than that recommended. Total and milk (∼0.3 g/kg) protein intake, but not meat protein intake (∼0.4 g/kg), was positively associated with size-adjusted BMC (P ≤ 0.05). The positive association between milk protein intake and size-adjusted BMC remained significant after correction for energy, calcium, and physical activity (P ≤ 0.01) and did not seem to be mediated via current serum IGF-I. None of the analyzed protein sources was significantly associated with size-adjusted BA.


Our results suggest that some components of milk protein may promote bone mineralization. Further studies are needed to elucidate this phenomenon.