Coffee, it turns out, is the biggest culprit in osteoporsis.
Its effects are so profound that people with osteoporation are advised to drink plenty of coffee every day.
But research suggests that coffee’s effects on bone health could be more profound than previously thought.
The key to breaking this cycle?
“Osteoporation is not caused by coffee consumption alone, but is instead related to the fact that the body converts caffeine into osteocalcin,” says lead researcher Dr Anil Kumar of the University of New South Wales in Australia.
“This is why people on a high-calorie diet tend to have higher bone density, whereas people on moderate calorie diets have lower bone density.”
“Theoretically, this could be a mechanism whereby we can prevent the osteoprotection of osteoblasts and thus reduce the incidence of osteoporiosis,” he says.
But Kumar cautions that the research is still in its early stages and is subject to a number of limitations.
First, coffee is generally not consumed in large quantities.
So there’s little evidence that coffee consumption leads to a reduction in osteopenia, the term for the loss of bone mass.
Second, although coffee may be associated with an increase in osteocalcranial density, there is also a lack of evidence for this effect, he says, and there is no data to suggest that coffee intake leads to increased bone turnover or the appearance of bone mineral density.
Third, as we all know, coffee can affect our blood sugar levels.
So while the effects of coffee on bone may seem obvious, this may not be the case for everyone.
“While coffee consumption may lead to a decrease in osteoblastic changes, the effect on blood sugar is not well known,” Kumar says.
“Furthermore, coffee consumption does not appear to affect the amount of calcium that is absorbed by the bone, which is important for calcium metabolism and bone formation.”
This suggests that the main factor that affects bone mineral densities may be the body’s own metabolism, rather than a result of coffee consumption.
This may explain why the effect of coffee may differ depending on age and gender.
In general, the body can take in calcium from both food and drinks.
“The key here is that, at a low-calcium diet, calcium is lost through the urine and is excreted in the urine.
This is what causes osteopontinosis,” says Kumar.
“At a higher-calibre diet, the kidneys metabolise calcium into phosphate, which can be absorbed through the small intestine.
The result is that calcium becomes available in the bone as calcium phosphate, and the bone can be strengthened.”
The same goes for the amount and type of calcium phosphate that is produced in the body.
“For example, the levels of phosphate in the blood are higher in women, so this could explain why calcium phosphate levels are higher on a low calcium diet,” he explains.
“However, this is a hypothesis and we need more research to test it.”
The researchers are currently looking at coffee consumption in people with a range of calcium levels.
“There is some evidence that women with lower levels of calcium tend to show lower bone mineral content and lower bone turnover,” Kumar explains.
In this study, the researchers looked at a group of 11,823 women aged 45-65 with no evidence of osteopenic disease and a BMI of between 22 and 26.
These women were then given either a low or a high intake of coffee, with the average intake of a cup being 1.2 milligrams of calcium per day.
“These women had no evidence that they had osteoporoarthritis, osteoporetic osteoporcosis, osteoblastoma, osteopenism, or osteopresis,” says Dr Kumar.
The researchers then looked at the bones of these women over the course of several years.
“We found that women who had a low coffee intake had lower bone strength in general, but this was not the case with the women who drank a high amount of coffee,” says Singh.
“In contrast, the women with higher coffee intake showed greater bone strength.”
However, the difference between the two groups was not statistically significant.
“It’s not clear what the mechanism is for this,” says Sharma.
“Our data do not suggest that a higher intake of protein or calcium is necessarily a bad thing. “
“If the effect is that a moderate-protein or high intake is beneficial for bone health, it would be a very significant effect.” “
However it is not clear whether this effect would translate to a similar effect on bone mineral formation, says Kumar, and more research is needed to understand this further.”
If the effect is that a moderate-protein or high intake is beneficial for bone health, it would be a very significant effect.”
However it is not clear whether this effect would translate to a similar effect on bone mineral formation, says Kumar, and more research is needed to understand this further.