Osteoporosis International

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 663–672 | Cite as

Milk consumption throughout life and bone mineral content and density in elderly men and women

  • T. Eysteinsdottir
  • T. I. Halldorsson
  • I. Thorsdottir
  • G. Sigurdsson
  • S. Sigurðsson
  • T. Harris
  • L. J. Launer
  • V. Gudnason
  • I. Gunnarsdottir
  • L. Steingrimsdottir
Original Article



Association between bone mineral density and bone mineral content in old age and milk consumption in adolescence, midlife, and old age was assessed. The association was strongest for milk consumption in midlife: those drinking milk daily or more often had higher bone mineral density and content in old age than those drinking milk seldom or never.


The role of lifelong milk consumption for bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) in old age is not clear. Here we assess the association between hip BMD and BMC in old age and milk consumption in adolescence, midlife, and current old age.


Participants of the Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik Study, aged 66–96 years (N = 4,797), reported retrospective milk intake during adolescence and midlife as well as in current old age, using a validated food frequency questionnaire. BMC of femoral neck and trochanteric area was measured by volumetric quantitative computed tomography and BMD obtained. Association was assessed using linear regression models. Differences in BMC, bone volume, and BMD in relation to milk intake were portrayed as gender-specific Z-scores.


Men consuming milk ≥ once/day during midlife had 0.21 higher Z-scores for BMD and 0.18 for BMC in femoral neck (95 % confidence interval 0.05–0.39 and 0.01–0.35, respectively) compared with < once/week. Results were comparable for trochanter. For women the results were similar, with slightly lower differences according to midlife milk consumption. For current and adolescent milk consumption, differences in Z-scores were smaller and only reached statistical significance in the case of BMD for current consumption in men, while this association was less pronounced for BMC.


Our data suggest that regular milk consumption throughout life, from adolescence to old age, is associated with higher BMC and BMD in old age, with no differences seen in bone volume. The strongest associations are seen for midlife milk consumption in both genders.


AGES-Reykjavik Study Bone mineral content Bone mineral density Elderly Milk intake 



Funding for the present work was provided by the Icelandic Research Fund for Graduate Students and the Nordforsk NCoE Program HELGA. The AGES-Reykjavik Study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) contract N01-AG-12100, the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging, and by the Icelandic Heart Association and the Icelandic Parliament, Iceland. We thank all the participants of the AGES-Reykjavik Study and the clinic staff at the Icelandic Heart Association for their invaluable contribution.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Eysteinsdottir
    • 1
  • T. I. Halldorsson
    • 1
    • 2
  • I. Thorsdottir
    • 1
    • 2
  • G. Sigurdsson
    • 3
    • 4
  • S. Sigurðsson
    • 3
  • T. Harris
    • 5
  • L. J. Launer
    • 5
  • V. Gudnason
    • 2
    • 3
  • I. Gunnarsdottir
    • 1
    • 2
  • L. Steingrimsdottir
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Unit for Nutrition ResearchUniversity of Iceland and Landspitali, National University HospitalReykjavikIceland
  2. 2.Faculty of Food Science and Human Nutrition, School of Health SciencesUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland
  3. 3.Icelandic Heart AssociationKopavogurIceland
  4. 4.Faculty of Medicine, School of Health SciencesUniversity of Iceland and Landspitali, National University HospitalReykjavikIceland
  5. 5.Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, Intramural Research ProgramNational Institute on AgingBethesdaUSA

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