Farmer dad and son with cows feeding

Healthy Ageing with Dairy

Dairy's role in nourishing older adults

99% of older Australians are not getting enough dairy in their diet - and that means they may eventually experience poor bone health and osteoporosis. This is where dairy can help.  

Dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, are naturally rich in calcium and protein - two essential nutrients that build and maintain healthy bones and muscles.

Older Australians who increase their dairy intake, along with safe sun exposure and physical activity, will prevent osteoporosis and serious bone fractures, which can cause chronic pain, disability and loss of independence.  

The European Milk Forum further explain dairy’s role in healthy ageing with these helpful resources on maintaining healthy bones and muscles.  

The Fractures Trial

A first of its kind, the University of Melbourne and Austin Health's Fractures Trial looked at how more dairy in the diet of elderly aged care residents improved their bone, heart and muscle health.

The trial's most recent paper showed that increasing serves of dairy - milk, cheese, yoghurt, and skim milk powder - from an average of 2 to 3.5 serves resulted in a 33% reduction in all fractures, 46% reduction in hip fractures, 11% reduction in falls, and improved calcium and protein intakes.  

The trial demonstrated how adequate dairy intake reduced the risk of fractures and falls in elderly people - providing compelling evidence that provision of dairy foods is a safe, low cost, palatable, widely available approach to reduce the burden of fractures and falls in the community. 

Dr Sandra Iuliano, healthy ageing expert and principal investigator of the fractures trial talks through this exciting research:  

Why dairy matters

Part of the reason why this trial was so successful in improving the health of elderly aged care residents is because of the dairy matrix.

Milk, cheese and yoghurt contain a unique mix of nutrients housed in complex physical structures, which cannot be replicated in any other food or supplement.

Dairy foods are natural sources of bone and muscle building nutrients, which are highly important in healthy ageing. Older Australians (women aged 50+ and men aged 70+) need four serves of dairy per day to offset muscle wasting and brittle bones associated with older age.