High dairy protein intake is associated with greater bone strength parameters at the distal radius and tibia in older men: a cross-sectional study

for the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) Study Research Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Summary: Dairy protein but not plant protein was associated with bone strength of the radius and tibia in older men. These results are consistent with previous results in women and support similar findings related to fracture outcomes. Bone strength differences were largely due to thickness and area of the bone cortex. Introduction: Our objective was to determine the association of protein intake by source (dairy, non-dairy animal, plant) with bone strength and bone microarchitecture among older men. Methods: We used data from 1016 men (mean 84.3 years) who attended the Year 14 exam of the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) study, completed a food frequency questionnaire (500–5000 kcal/day), were not taking androgen or androgen agonists, and had high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) scans of the distal radius and distal or diaphyseal tibia. Protein was expressed as percentage of total energy intake (TEI); mean ± SD for TEI = 1548 ± 607 kcal/day and for total protein = 16.2 ± 2.9%TEI. We used linear regression with standardized HR-pQCT parameters as dependent variables and adjusted for age, limb length, center, education, race/ethnicity, marital status, smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity level, corticosteroids use, supplement use (calcium and vitamin D), and osteoporosis medications. Results: Higher dairy protein intake was associated with higher estimated failure load at the distal radius and distal tibia [radius effect size = 0.17 (95% CI 0.07, 0.27), tibia effect size = 0.13 (95% CI 0.03, 0.23)], while higher non-dairy animal protein was associated with higher failure load at only the distal radius. Plant protein intake was not associated with failure load at any site. Conclusion: The association between protein intake and bone strength varied by source of protein. These results support a link between dairy protein intake and skeletal health, but an intervention study is needed to evaluate causality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-77
Number of pages9
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding information The Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) Study is supported by National Institutes of Health funding. The following institutes provide support: the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research under the following grant numbers: U01 AG027810, U01 AG042124, U01 AG042139, U01 AG042140, U01 AG042143, U01 AG042145, U01 AG042168, U01 AR066160, UL1 TR000128, and R01 AR060700.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation.


  • Bone microarchitecture
  • Bone strength
  • Older men
  • Protein intake

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