Osteoporosis: 5 Unique Risk Factors In Black Women

Building Stronger Bones

Eating a well-balanced diet adequate in calcium and vitamin D throughout life is key to building bones and lowering risk for osteoporosis. Calcium and vitamin D can be found in the foods you eat. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese, are the primary sources of calcium in American diets. Dietary patterns that provide 3 servings of dairy products per day can improve bone mass. Vitamin D functions in the body to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorous, thereby helping to build and maintain bones. Milk and yogurts that are fortified with vitamin D can be good sources of this nutrient. Other sources of vitamin D include fish such as salmon or tuna, and vitamin D-fortified ready-to-eat breakfast cereals.

According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, older children, teens, and adults have a recommended dairy intake of 3 servings a day, while children 4 to 8 years old are recommended to consume 2.5 servings, and 2 servings per day are recommended for children 2 to 3 years old.

In general, a serving of dairy is 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of yogurt, 1.5 ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese.

For those who are lactose intolerant, smaller portions (such as 4 fluid ounces of milk) may be well tolerated. Lactose-free and lower-lactose products are available. These include lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk, yogurt, and cheese. Yogurt can be a more easily digestible alternative to milk because it contains live and active cultures that help with lactose digestion. In addition, yogurt on average contains less lactose per serving than milk so you may be able to enjoy yogurt products with fewer associated symptoms. Also, enzyme preparations can be added to milk to lower the lactose content.

The tips listed below will help you make wise dairy choices everyday:

  • Try nonfat or lowfat yogurt as a snack.
  • If you drink cappuccinos or lattes — ask for them with non fat (skim) or low fat milk.
  • Make fruit-yogurt smoothies in the blender.
  • Add non fat or low fat milk instead of water to oatmeal and hot cereals.
  • Make a yogurt parfait with whole grain cereals, fruits and nonfat or lowfat yogurt for breakfast.
  • Use non fat or low fat milk when making condensed cream soups (such as cream of tomato).
  • Make a dip for fruits or vegetables from nonfat or lowfat yogurt.
  • Top sliced fruit with flavored nonfat or lowfat yogurt for an easy-to-make dessert.
  • For dessert, make chocolate or butterscotch pudding with non fat or low fat milk.
  • Top casseroles, soups, stews, or vegetables with shredded reduced fat or low fat cheese.
  • Include milk as a beverage at meals. Choose non fat or low fat milk.
  • Top a baked potato with nonfat or lowfat yogurt.

Exercising regularly throughout life, with an emphasis on weightbearing activities such as walking, jogging, dancing, and weight training can also help lower risk of osteoporosis.


Constance Brown-RiggsConstance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, national speaker and author of The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes.. She is Dannon One Yogurt Every Day Nutrition Advisor.

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