A recent study has found that specific dietary patterns, consisting of protein, calcium, and potassium intake, are associated with positive bone development in adolescents.
While the majority of bone mass is formed during adolescence, relatively little is known regarding specific dietary habits that may affect this formation of bone. This is what prompted researchers to investigate specific dietary patterns in relation to bone health in adolescence. The researchers studied a population of over 1000 adolescents between 14 and 17 years of age. They then characterised two specific dietary patterns that were observed in the study population. Dietary pattern #1 was characterised by protein, calcium, and potassium intake, with high intake of low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and vegetables. Dietary pattern #2 was characterised by protein intake, however, less intake of calcium and potassium, with a high intake of meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. The participants were followed up when they reached 20 years of age, and assessed for bone mineral density, bone area, and bone mineral content.
The researchers found a positive association between dietary pattern #1 in 14 year old participants and bone mineral density and bone mineral content when they reached 20 years of age. There was no association between dietary pattern #2 and any of the measures of bone health used in the study.
The researchers conclude that a diet rich in protein, calcium, and potassium, during adolescence, such as seen in dietary pattern #1, is associated with higher bone mineral density and bone mineral content at age 20. They therefore suggest that eating low-fat dairy products, in addition to whole grains, and vegetables can be beneficial during this critical period of bone development.
Van den Hooven, EH, Ambrosini, GL, Huang, R-C, Mountain, J, Straker, L, Walsh, JP, Zhu, K, Oddy, WH. “Identification of a Dietary Pattern Prospectively Associated with Bone Mass in Australian Young Adults” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition September 16, 2015, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.110502
Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD