Good to the bone

Drinking beer may help prevent osteoporosis

May 25, 2004 - Moderate beer consumption may help prevent osteoporosis in men and some women, according to two studies.


  • One, published recently in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, showed a strong relationship between the intake of dietary silicon and bone mineral density in the hip sites of men and premenopausal women.

  • A second, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed that beer is a highly bioavailable source of dietary silicon, where the silicon content varied from 9 mg/L to 30 mg/L.

    The first found that beer is a significant and well-absorbed source of dietary silicon. "Silicon is an often overlooked nutrient in the body and may well be useful for maintaining strong bones," said Dr. Jonathan Powell, chairman of medicine and nutrition at the University of London and Cambridge.

    Researchers did not find a relationship between silicon and bone strength in the postmenopausal women in the study, which included a total of 2,847 participants.

    "Unlike calcium, silicon potentially works on both sides of bone density -- it appears to promote bone formation and may also prevent bone loss, whereas calcium plays a role in preventing bone loss, but unless we are deficient, does not help in bone formation."

    Major sources of silicon have been found in plant-based foods, such as whole grains and cereals and some fruit and vegetables, including bananas and string beans.

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