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Milk for Senior Citizen: Benefits Beyond Stronger Bones

Milk for Senior Citizen: Benefits Beyond Stronger Bones

Most of us know that milk can be beneficial for growing children. And as adults, we need dairy less than kids. But what many don’t know is that milk can also prove to be beneficial for the elderly as well. The benefits of milk for a senior citizen go beyond just stronger bones to prevent osteoporosis. It can also help provide a source of protein and vitamin D, two nutrients the elderly need to watch closely.

Benefits of Milk for a Senior Citizen

1. Calcium for Stronger Bones

When looking for milk for a senior citizen, the first thing that comes to mind is a milk that is rich in calcium to prevent osteoporosis.

A review by Erem et al studies the link between calcium, magnesium and vitamin D and milk to a lower risk of osteoporosis. And one of the findings was a low intake of magnesium leads to calcium release from the bones1. These three nutrients are involved in a complex interplay which needs to be studied further. But it is clear that milk is a rich source of calcium and magnesium, as well as vitamin D.

That’s not all. The elderly commonly suffer from a higher incidence of broken bones or fractures. A number of studies have found a link between drinking a glass of milk a day and a lower incidence of bone hip fractures in older men and women1. This is promising news for seniors who may want to lower their risk of suffering from broken bones.

While milk consumption may indeed lead to stronger bones for the elderly, it’s important to note that the time to build stronger bones is probably long before old age. A study learned that frequent milk consumption before the age of 25 is associated with higher bone mineral density in middle-aged and older women2.

2. Protein for Muscle Mass

As we grow older, it is common to lose muscle mass. This is a condition called sarcopenia, a chronic loss of muscle mass and muscle strength as a result of aging.

To combat sarcopenia, it is important that the elderly receive their recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein. There are many recommendations for daily allowances available, including one from the DOST3. However, not all of these reflect the increased need for protein for the elderly — even though it is widely recognized that the protein needs of the elderly increase4. Consult your doctor for a specific recommendation for you.

Milk for a senior citizen, aside from being a rich source of calcium, is also full of protein. And it may be an effective method of supplementing the diet to increase protein intake.

3. Carbohydrates to Fight Unintentional Weight Loss

Nutritionists recommend that most adults have a low-fat, low-calorie diet. However, this recommendation changes for older adults, especially those who experience unintentional weight loss5. In many cases, seniors should have a diet that is rich in carbohydrates instead of cutting out carbs like they used to when they were younger.

Milk and dairy can fill in this gap, providing a carbohydrate-rich diet. As always, there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation, so make sure to consult a doctor for a diet that is right for you.

4. Milk for Senior Citizen Benefits: Vitamin D

Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones, and it plays a crucial role in the absorption of calcium. Though the body can produce vitamin D on its own, you may also supplement your diet with rich sources of vitamin D, such as milk. Vitamin-D fortified milk has been found to be a safe and effective way of adding the vitamin to the diets of the elderly6.

Key Takeaway

Milk — and milk for senior citizen supplements — can be an effective way of answering the nutritional requirements of the eldery. In particular, it is a good source of protein, carbohydrates, calcium and vitamin D.

Learn more about Nutrition for Aging here.

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Sources

1 MILK Symposium review: The importance of milk and dairy foods in the diets of infants, adolescents, pregnant women, adults, and the elderly, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022030220307840, Accessed November 25, 2021

2 Milk consumption and bone mineral density in middle aged and elderly women, https://www.bmj.com/content/308/6934/939.full, Accessed November 25, 2021

3 Philippine Dietary Reference Intakes 2015: Summary Tables 1, https://www.fnri.dost.gov.ph/images/images/news/PDRI-2018.pdf, Accessed November 25, 2021

4 Update on protein intake: importance of milk proteins for health status of the elderly,  https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/73/suppl_1/41/1819533?login=true, Accessed November 25, 2021

5 Think Twice About Nutritional Supplement Drinks for Elderly Loved Ones,  https://www.agingcare.com/articles/nutritional-drinks-seniors-elderly-problems-139710.htm, Accessed November 25, 2021

6 Vitamin D-Fortified Liquid Milk: Benefits for the Elderly Community-Based Population,  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s002239900435, Accessed November 25, 2021

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Written by Cesar Beltran Updated a week ago
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel