Calcium-rich Diet Reduces Stroke Risk

July 28/The Irish Times -- Children who eat a lot of dairy food are less likely to die from strokes in adulthood than those who consume little, researchers said. Diets rich in calcium, including dairy, can cut the chance of dying from stroke by 60%, they said.

Experts from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia, and the University of Bristol, examined results from a 1930s study into the diets of mainly working-class families in Britain. Details were taken of family diet as well as the health, growth and living conditions of the children in the households.

The children were aged eight on average at the start of the study, with the range being four to 11 years.

The average daily family intake of dairy products ranged from 89g a day in the lowest group to 471g a day in the highest group. On average, 94% of dairy intake was from milk. There is 400mg of calcium in 50g of cheddar cheese or just over half a pint of milk.

A total of 4,374 children were successfully traced and followed up 65 years later. The researchers analysed the calcium content of their diets and found that those with the highest calcium intakes had the lowest risk of dying from stroke.

Writing in the journal Heart, they said,  "In this 65-year follow-up study of children born in the 1920s or 1930s, a family diet in childhood relatively high in calcium was associated with reduced risk of mortality caused by stroke, with calcium intakes above 400mg/day associated with 40-60% lower mortality due to stroke compared with those with daily calcium intakes below 400mg/day."

The experts found that children with a high calcium intake were also 25% less likely to have died from any cause at the 65-year follow-up than those with the lowest calcium intakes.  

From the August 3, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition