Beer drinkers may now have a good excuse to enjoy happy hour – a new clinical study recently found beer may help keep your bones strong.
Moderate alcohol intake, a maximum of one drink per day for women and two drinks for men, has been suggested to have beneficial effects on bone. A new clinical study found that moderate beer consumption was associated with increased bone density and strength, likely due to several factors.
Beer is a rich source of silicon in the Western diet and higher amounts of this micronutrient have been suggested to prevent bone loss and help ward off osteoporosis. Beers containing the highest levels of malted barley and hops are the best sources of silicon. Pale ales have the highest levels of silicon, while non-alcoholic beers, light lagers and wheat beers have the lowest amounts. The University of California recently reported the silicon content of beer can range from 6.4 to 56.5 mg per liter.
But don’t get too excited…not all beers are created equal! One “drink” contains only 14 grams of alcohol. That’s about 12-ounces of a 5% alcohol by volume (ABV) beer (e.g., Miller light). The higher the alcohol content the less you can drink before the health benefits fade away. Here are some examples of what “one drink” looks like:
- 12-ounces of 5% ABV beer
- 6-ounces of 10% ABV beer
- 5-ounces of 12% ABV red wine
- 1.5-ounces of 40% ABV vodka
It’s important not to go overboard as excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to bone loss and other health complications including an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers. Pregnant and lactating women, as well as adolescents, should completely avoid consumption of any type of alcoholic beverage as they are more susceptible to increased health risks.
Check out my interview on “The Health Benefits of Beer” which aired on NBC4 Washington in celebration of National Beer Day.