Athletes are bringing milk's many nutrients back into the spotlight.

London - Drinking a lot of milk is not only good for your bones – it could help you win a Nobel prize, according to a study.

Researchers found nations that consume a lot of milk and milk products also tend to have a lot of Nobel laureates among their populations.

Research published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine reported a strong association between a nation’s chocolate consumption and Nobel laureate prowess, speculating that the flavonoid content of chocolate was behind the boost in brain power.

This got the researchers thinking.

As chocolate is often combined with milk, could it be the amount of milk or milk products consumed per head that fuels Nobel Prize success?

They looked at the 2007 data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation on per capita milk consumption in 22 countries as well as the information provided by the author of the New England Journal of Medicine chocolate theory, and found a significant association.

Sweden has the most Nobel laureates per 10 million of its population. Although, it hosts the Nobel committee - which some might argue could introduce an element of bias - it also consumes the most milk per head of the population, getting through 340 kilos (750lb) every year.

And Switzerland, which knocks back 300 kilos (660lb) of the white stuff every year, has a Nobel haul of similar proportions.

However, at the other end of the scale, China has the lowest number of Nobel laureates in its population.

But it also has the lowest milk consumption of the countries studied, at around 25 kilos (55lb) a year.

However, the researchers noted there does seem to be a ceiling effect with no discernible impact beyond an annual per capita consumption of 350 kilos (771lb), as Finland’s Nobel haul seems to attest.

They queried if milk consumption was simply a reflection of a strong educational system.

But there is a plausible biological explanation for the link as milk is rich in vitamin D, and this may boost brain power, the evidence suggests.

The report concluded: “So to improve your chances of winning Nobel prizes you should not only eat more chocolate but perhaps drink milk too or strive for synergy with hot chocolate.”

The findings were published in the journal Practical Neurology. - Daily Mail