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Originally published May 2 2010

Researchers claim drinking beer prevents osteoporosis

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Researchers from the University of California, Davis, recently published a study claiming that beer helps to prevent osteoporosis. Published in the Journal of the Sciences of Food and Agriculture, the study found that certain kinds of beer are rich in dietary silicon that keeps bones strong and wards off bone diseases like osteoporosis.

Charles Bamforth, lead author of the study, noted that not all beers have the same levels of silicon. "Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon," he said. After studying 100 different commercial beers, Bamforth and his team found that beers made from wheat and corn had the lowest levels of dietary silicon.

"Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element," he noted, adding that beers brewed with the grain husks extract silicon into the beer.

According to researchers, the type of silicon present in beer is highly bioavailable, meaning that it is easily absorbed into the body. Many dietary supplement companies sells natural forms of silicon, also called silica, for improving hair, nail, and bone health.

The National Osteoporosis Society offered further clarity on the issue, emphasizing that while this element in beer may help prevent bone problems, there are other nutrients that work better. Dr. Claire Bowring explained that the study confirms previous ones that found benefits to moderate alcohol consumption but noted that too much alcohol can have a reverse effect.

"While low quantities of alcohol may appear to have bone density benefits, higher intakes have been shown to decrease bone strength, with an alcohol intake of more than two units per day actually increasing the risk of breaking a bone."

Bowring also believes that silicon plays a very minor role in bone health. There are no established daily intake recommendations for silicon so it is difficult to identify whether or not people are deficient in it. Since it is found in varying levels in water and certain anti-caking agents, it is also difficult to distinguish how much each person is consuming on a daily basis and how those levels affect long-term bone health.

For now, many experts are continuing to recommend proven nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D for maintaining healthy bones and preventing bone disease. If one decides to take silicon as well, it is best to find other natural sources of it rather than in alcohol.

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