Marta Montenegro: Beer Boosts Bone Mass

While wine sales have skyrocketed, the old time favorite beer hasn’t enjoyed the same popularity. It is probably due to the allure of gourmet-type living, and the noted health boost from that glass of Pinot Noir. Your occasional cold beer is reserved for the Yankees game.

Wine’s reputation as a healthy elixir is justified. Wine has high amounts of resveratrol—a phytochemical that has been shown to provide cardio-protective benefits. But give beer it’s due. A new study shows that beer can boost bone mass. That’s right—beer for better bones!

Moderate alcohol intake has been linked to increased bone mass before, but other factors such as lifestyle choices, dietary habits, and smoking, may not have been considered.

Yet in this study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers adjusted for lifestyle factors and showed that among 3,218 women who consumed more than one drink a day of alcohol had a significantly greater femoral neck and lumbar bone mineral density (BMD) than those who never consumed alcohol.

Beer Win Match

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But not just any alcohol. The authors also reported that “neither wine nor liquor intake was significantly associated with BMD”—but rather beer."

Registered dietitian Elizabeth Brown MS,RD,CPT,CDE, says that beer’s bone benefit is due to its silicon content. “Studies report that dietary silicon intake of more than 40 mg per day correlates with increased BMD; however, the average daily intake of silicon is about 20 to 30 mg.”

A pint of beer may be close to the dietary intake related to support BMD, yet this shouldn’t be an excuse to overindulge. Brown says foods highest in silicon also include grains, especially oats, barley and some rice fractions. “What’s good about these grains is they also are rich in magnesium, which is needed for bone health as well.”

Bone Food Supply

It takes more than silicon to build up your bones. These are some of the other nutrients experts recommend that you should include in your diet.

Time for Tea. A cup of tea also has polyphenols, which have shown to prevent bones from breaking down.

Don’t forget the D. The sunshine vitamin found in whole eggs, milk, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, aid in the calcium absorption needed for stronger bones.

K is Okay. Vitamin K reduces bone turnover and improve bone health. Good sources include kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and iceberg lettuce.

Be a Prune Lover.  Prunes are a rich source of boron with approximately 3-4 mg for every 3-ounce serving. And supplementing with 3 mg per has been shown to improve calcium and magnesium retention. However, half of Americans consume less than 1 mg of boron daily.

Give me a C! Vitamin C rich foods, such as oranges, cantaloupe, and grapefruit are not just great to assist on collagen formation, but also contain inositol—a type of carbohydrate that has been linked to increased calcium uptake in bones.

Increase Your Arginine. Poultry, seafood, and diary may do more than feeding the muscles. A study shows that low levels of the amino-acid arginine—found in these foods—impaired fracture healing.

Keep in mind that alcohol provides seven calories per ounce, so you have to be careful about portions. And if you want an extra boost from your beer, Brown suggests darker brews, which provides more iron and antioxidants than light-colored ones.