New research shows, that yes, beer might just be good for your bones. The study finds that the beverage is rich in dietary silicon which, in addition to calcium, is important for bone health. The findings will be published in this month’s issue of Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
100 commercial beers were tested and it was found that the silicon level varies greatly depending on the type of beer, with amounts ranging from 6.4 to 56.5 percent. The Los Angeles Times reports that in beer, silicon is present in the form of soluble orthosilicic acid and about half of that can be absorbed by the body.
According to Live Science, the researchers found that India Pale Ales have the highest average silicon levels, with an average of 41.2 mg/L. Rounding out the top three is Pale Ale with 36.5 mg/L and ales with 32.8 mg/L. Light lagers (17.2 mg/L) and non-alcoholic beers (16.3 mg/L) had the lowest silicon levels.
Charles Bamforth, lead study author and professor in the food science technology department at the University of California, Davis, says:
“Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon…Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element. While most of the silicon remains in the husk during brewing, significant quantities of silicon nonetheless are extracted into wort and much of this survives into beer.”
Of course downing beer to increase the strength of your bones is not the best decision for your health. As the LA Times points out:
“Dr. Tim Byers of the University of Colorado Cancer Center is widely quoted today saying, ‘To conclude any bone health benefits from this study would require a great leap.’ Other researchers noted that heavy consumption is more likely to lead to bone damage when you fall over and break a leg or arm and that heavy alcohol consumption has a variety of deleterious effects.”
Although the study authors seem to be aware of this, saying to “Choose the beer you enjoy. Drink it in moderation.”