Dairy Intakes in Older Irish Adults and Effects on Vitamin Micronutrient Status: Data from the TUDA Study.J Nutr Health Aging 2017; 21(9):954-961JN
Consumption of dairy products has been associated with positive health outcomes including a lower risk of hypertension, improved bone health and a reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes. The suggested dairy intake for health in older adults is three servings per day but recent analysis of the NHANES data for older adults reported 98% were not meeting these recommendations. No studies have investigated the consequences of such declines in the dairy intakes of Irish older adults and the subsequent effects on vitamin micronutrient status.
To study the daily dairy intakes of older Irish adults and to examine how the frequency of dairy food consumption affects vitamin micronutrient status.
Participants (n 4,317) were from the Trinity Ulster Department of Agriculture (TUDA) Study, a large study of older Irish adults (aged >60 yrs) designed to investigate gene-nutrient interactions in the development of chronic diseases of aging. The daily intake portion for milk, cheese and yoghurt was calculated from food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) responses. Blood samples were analysed for vitamin biomarkers as follows: vitamin B12 (total serum cobalamin and holotranscobalamin (holoTC)), folate (red cell folate (RCF) and serum folate), vitamin B2 (erythrocyte glutathione reductase activation coefficient (EGRac)), vitamin B6 (serum pyridoxal phosphate) and vitamin D (serum 25(OH)D).
The mean total reported dairy intake was 1.16 (SD 0.79) portions per day with males consuming significantly fewer total dairy portions compared to females (1.07 vs 1.21 respectively) (P<0.05). There was no significant difference in total daily dairy serving intakes by age decade (60-69, 70-79, >80 yrs). Overall, only 3.5% of the total population (n 151) achieved the recommended daily dairy intake of three or more servings per day. A significantly higher proportion of females (4%) compared to males (2.4%) met these dairy requirements (P=0.011). Blood concentrations of vitamin B12 biomarkers, RCF, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6 were significantly worse in those with the lowest tertile of dairy intake (0-0.71 servings) compared to those in the highest tertile (1.50-4.50 servings) (P<0.05).
This study found that more than 96% of the older adults sampled did not meet current daily dairy intake recommendations. The study is the largest to-date examining dairy intakes in older Irish adults, and provides evidence that daily dairy intakes (in particular yogurt) contribute significantly to the B-vitamin and vitamin D biomarker status of older adults. These results suggest that older adults who are already vulnerable to micronutrient inadequacies, are forgoing the nutritional advantages of vitamin-rich dairy products.