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Caffeine and Bone Loss

By: | Tags: , , , | Comments: 0 | December 11th, 2014

The correlation between caffeinated drinks and lowered bone density has been well established, although other chemicals in many of these beverages can also contribute to calcium loss.  The rate of damage can often be associated with contributing factors, such as:

  • Age
  • Genetics/predisposition or risk factor for osteoporosis
  • Amount and frequency of caffeine intake
  • Other nutritional intake
  • Types of caffeinated beverages that are consumed

Does Caffeine Affect Bone Density?

Overall, it is highly recommended that individuals who may be at risk for osteoporosis either limit or completely eliminate caffeine consumption.  This is due to the direct affect that caffeine has on bone density.  The acids which are present within caffeine are directly associated with calcium loss, as the molecules bind with bone calcium and cause the mineral to be leached from the body.  As calcium is excreted through the urine, it causes weakening of the bones and this can be particularly impactful in elderly individuals.

Women who are already experiencing postmenopausal osteoporosis are equally at risk as elderly people of any gender.  This is because the calcium loss that is precipitated by caffeine consumption is greater than the body’s ability to replenish the mineral.  As a result, this increases the rate of bone loss over time, and while younger individuals may not exhibit the warning signs for osteoporosis, the consumption of caffeine still contributes to risk factors over time.  This is especially true if the habit of drinking excessive caffeine continues through the adult years.

Foods To Avoid When Concerned About Bone Density

While caffeinated beverages can be linked to loss of skeletal calcium, there are also other diet dangers that can be damaging to the bones.  These include:

  • Processed foods and meats – can be high in nitrates which will also impact the rate of calcium absorption in the body.
  • Canned goods – high in salts that can affect the manner in which calcium is metabolized on a cellular level.
  • Dark leafy green vegetables – although these foods contain some calcium, they also contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can erode the structure of the bones.
  • Processed grains, cereals, and breads – these are high in carbohydrates, which convert to sugar in the body.  The high sugar levels contribute to s systemic acidic state, which can further contribute to calcium loss.

While it is important to stay cognizant of all eating habits, many people are not always aware of the nutrients they consume through beverages.  These substances can include both caffeine and other components that are bad for your bones.

  • Coffee – can contain between 95-200 mg of caffeine per cup.  This drink also contains caffeic acids which can further contribute to weakening of the bones
  • Black tea – can contain between 14-75 mg per cup.  Black tea also contains tannins that can stimulate gastric secretions which create an acid state within the body.  Tannins will also impede mineral absorption.
  • Green tea – contains between 25-45 mg per cup.  Although this tea has less tannins than black tea, it can still increase metabolic processes which impact how calcium is processed by the body.
  • Sodas and soft drinks – these can contain anywhere between 16-47 mg of caffeine per 12 oz. bottle.  However, even non-caffeinated soft drinks also contain high levels of phosphorous, which are responsible for dissolving calcium from the bones, and causing it to be excreted from the body at a higher than normal rate.
  • Energy drinks – these can contain over 200 mg of caffeine per single serving.  Energy drinks are also high in sugars and phosphates, which all impact the acid levels within the body and increase the loss of calcium from the system.

In cases of caffeinated beverages and bone loss, the impact can be greatly increased due to the sugars and phosphates that are also present.  This can also become the case with teas and coffee, since many individuals will add sweeteners to the drink.  This factor also increases the risk of damage to the bones.

Avoiding Coffee as a cause of Osteoporosis

Limiting caffeine consumption can reduce damage to bones and the risk for osteoporosis.  For individuals who are not exhibiting immediate reduction of bone density, a habit of 100 mg of caffeine or less per day is considered acceptable.  People who already have lowered bone density or symptoms of osteoporosis should completely eliminate caffeine from the diet, and should also consider the addition of both calcium and Vitamin D supplement in order to encourage proper absorption and systemic metabolism of the mineral.

What is the Difference Between Osteoporosis and Osteopenia?

Osteoporosis refers to the loss of bone density, while Osteopenia is the loss of minerals from the bones.  People can have osteopenia and still be within normal ranges for overall bone density, although this condition is often seen as a precursor for osteoporosis.  In many cases, taking preventive measures when osteopenia is the only symptom of a possible future problem can greatly reduce the risk of fractures and weakened bones over time.

Dietary Measures for Preventing Osteoporosis

While increasing calcium consumption can help to prevent the development of osteoporosis and can ameliorate osteopenia, it is also vitally important that Vitamin D is included in the diet.  Vitamin D facilitates the absorption and metabolism of calcium.  People who are suffering from osteopenia in particular may find that there is sufficient calcium in the diet, but the lack of Vitamin D is causing the mineral to be excreted rather than used by the body.

Along with the reduction of caffeine consumption, the addition of the following foods can also help to prevent osteoporosis:

  • Yogurt – along with high levels of calcium and Vitamin D, this food also contains probiotics which can assist with digestive function.  Better digestion can assist with the proper utilization of nutrients.
  • Lean proteins from poultry and meat – the amino acids in proteins are also necessary for the proper health of bones.  These foods can assist in building bone density and can also aid in calcium absorption.
  • Fortified orange juice – this is not only a better beverage choice since it does not contain caffeine, but it can also act as a supplement for both calcium and Vitamin D in the diet.

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