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Giving Milk a Punch continued...

Supplementing milk and other food products with calcium and vitamin D not only would increase bone density in men but in the general population as well, he says. "People need to get more exercise and drink more milk."

Though women, who are more prone to osteoporosis, have been advised for decades to drink milk and take calcium supplements, men have not received the same message, he says.

Elizabeth Shane, MD, Columbia University professor of clinical medicine, agrees.

"No one drinks enough milk," she says.

New dietary guidelines recommend drinking three 8-ounce glasses of milk daily. In place of a glass of milk, other dairy options include 1 cup of yogurt or 1.5 to 2 ounces of cheese. This would offer about 900 milligrams of calcium and about 300 international units of vitamin D.

In the past, medical research involved primarily male participants. However, osteoporosis research places more emphasis on women because of their higher risk for osteoporosis, Shane says.

"This is one of the few areas where women trumped men. Now researchers are looking at both men and women in terms of osteoporosis," she says.

Bone-Breaking Disease

Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones, increasing the risk of sudden and unexpected fractures. Women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis.

Many times, osteoporosis is not discovered until weakened bones cause potentially debilitating fractures, usually in the back or hips.

Until about age 30, a person normally builds more bone than he or she loses. During the aging process, bone breakdown begins to outpace bone buildup, resulting in a gradual loss of bone mass. Once this loss of bone reaches a certain point, a person has osteoporosis.

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