Drinking a glass of milk everyday may help keep your knees healthy. Researchers suggest that women who frequently consume milk may delay the progression of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.
“Milk consumption plays an important role in bone health,” explained lead author Bing Lu from Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that OA, which is characterized by degeneration of the cartilage and its underlying bone in a joint, is believed to result from “mechanical and molecular events in the affected joint.”
A total of 2,148 individuals with knee OA – and 3,064 knees – were used as part of the Osteoarthritis Initiative. After collecting dietary information at the start of the study, investigators measured joint space between the medial femur and tibia of the knee with X-ray, to assess progression of OA.
The study included 888 men and 1,260 women, all of whom were followed up at 12, 24, 36 and 48 months, and the team notes that milk consumption was evaluated with a Block Brief Food Frequency Questionnaire.
The researchers found that, in women, as milk intake increased from none to less than 3, 4-6, and more than 7 glasses per week, the joint space width decreased by 0.38 mm, 0.29 mm and 0.26 mm, respectively.
However, in case of men, no association between milk consumption and joint space width decrease was reported.
“Our findings indicate that women who frequently drink milk may reduce the progression of OA,” Lu said.
According to the research, women who ate cheese saw an increase in knee OA progression. When asked why that is the case, Dr. Lu told Medical News Today that the high saturated fat acids in cheese could be to blame.
According to Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a Medical Advisory Board Member of the non-profit Nutritional Magnesium Association, “The findings that fat-free and low-fat milk may delay the progression of knee osteoarthritis, yet cheese increased progression and yogurt had no effect, doesn’t seem to make sense.
“However, almost all the milk in the U.S. is fortified with Vitamin D, which is necessary for proper absorption/direction of calcium into bones and joints. Cheese and yogurt contain little to no Vitamin D. The fact that is even more obscured is that when the body ingests Vitamin D, magnesium is drawn into the blood stream from storage sites in bone and muscle to metabolize Vitamin D to its active form.
“An influx of magnesium will also serve to support bones and joints because this mineral is vital to proper bone and joint function; it acts as an anti-inflammatory; and it prevents brittle bones and joints that can occur with excess calcium supplementation.”
“A recent study reported that increased consumption of saturated fatty acids was associated with an increased incidence of bone marrow lesions,” he added, “which may predict knee OA progression.”
While further studies need to be done on the link between milk consumption and osteoarthritis, researchers say the results of the new study raise an important point.
The research has been published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
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