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Whilst exercise is generally associated with a positive impact on bone health, recent studies have reported some negative effects, particularly but not exclusively, in endurance athletes who suffer from bone and stress fracture injuries.

Sports and nutrition students, and academics, from The University of Stirling attended a seminar today organised by The Dairy Council addressing the role of calcium and dairy for the bone health of athletes and athletic individuals.

The seminar heard from Professor Craig Sale, director of sport, health and performance enhancement at Nottingham Trent University.  Professor Sale said: “There is growing evidence showing the beneficial role that dairy plays in promoting bone health and this might also have a role in reducing injury risks in athletes, notably by providing essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus and protein.

“The easiest way to mitigate negative effects on bone health is to decrease training load, however, as this not always viable, other strategies are required to reduce such risks, and dietary and nutritional influences such as dairy could play an essential role.”

Professor Sale has spent the last 20 years investigating the impact of exercise and nutrition on health and performance in athletes, with a particular focus on the triggers for adaptations in bone and muscle.

Lydia Cooper, sport and nutrition scientist with The Dairy Council added: “Milk and dairy foods are a particularly useful source of nutrients for maintaining bone, for hydration and for muscle recovery in athletes. Whilst it is an area that requires further research, initial studies show that the nutrients found in dairy foods can help reduce the risk of injuries by keeping bones strong and healthy in those who are prone to injuries as a result of extensive training.”

Dairy contributes more calcium than other foods groups to the UK diet. In addition to calcium, dairy products are high in protein and phosphorus, all of which are important for maintaining bones.

Find out more about the nutritional value of dairy in our free downloadable publications