April 29, 2009

Dairy products better than supplements

Dairy products have an advantage over calcium carbonate used in some supplements in promoting bone growth and strength, U.S. researchers say.

Connie Weaver of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., found that the bones of rats fed non-fat dry milk were longer, wider, more dense and stronger than those of rats fed a diet with calcium carbonate.

Calcium carbonate is the most common form of calcium used in calcium-fortified foods and supplements.

Weaver said the study, funded by the National Dairy Council, said the study involved 300 rats that were divided into two groups. For 10 weeks, the rats were given all the nutrients they require, but one group was given dairy and the other was given calcium carbonate as the source of calcium.

After 10 weeks, the bones of 50 rats from each group were measured for strength, density, length and weight.

We found those measurements were up to 8 percent higher for those who had milk over calcium carbonate, Weaver said in a statement.

The study, Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, also found a strong effect of having dairy as a calcium source followed by periods of inadequate calcium.