The Controversy Surrounding Caffeine and Bone Density | Why Coffee is Actually Good for You | Boosts Antioxidant Levels | Lowers Inflammation | Can Coffee Increase Urinary Excretion Of Calcium? | Caffeinated vs. Decaffeinated Coffee | The Bottom Line on Coffee and Bone Density
If the best part of waking up is coffee in your cup — you’re in good company. It is estimated that an average American consumes around 3 cups of coffee each day!
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way an unsettling association was made between coffee and bone density loss.
Over time, conflicting information about caffeine and bone health developed which led many to wonder, “Is coffee bad for osteoporosis?”
And since naysayers haven’t definitively answered this question, you may be concerned that your beloved morning cup of Joe could be causing damage to your bones.
As it turns out, in addition to the intoxicating aroma, delicious flavor and jolt of caffeine, drinking coffee actually offers health benefits.
But before we dive into all the incredible health benefits of coffee, let’s address the controversy brewing around coffee and its effects on bone health. Then, we’ll cover the incredible health benefits of this beloved beverage.
The Controversy Surrounding Caffeine and Bone Density
Despite the lack of scientific evidence, coffee has been associated with poor bone health for years. While there are some individuals who should not have coffee and/or caffeine due to medical conditions or pregnancy, it’s not necessary to stay away from coffee for the sake of your bones.
Lara Pizzorno, MDiv, MA, LMT, author of “Healthy Bones Healthy You!” will spill the beans below in a wonderfully informative video all about coffee and bone health. But for now, let’s get to the heart of the matter and see what the science really reveals about coffee and bone density.
Papers evaluating the effect of coffee on bone were published by Korean researchers in the Journal of Korean Family Medicine in 2014.
The Korean researchers evaluated the effects of coffee consumption on bone mineral density in premenopausal women.
The authors looked at data from the 4th Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This survey was conducted through 2008-2009 and consisted of 1,761 premenopausal women.
Researchers found no significant association between coffee consumption and bone mineral density of the femoral neck, the femur, or the lumbar spine.
This is promising news. But considering the limitation of a food questionnaire-based, non-intervention study, the findings warrant a more comprehensive study.
Why Coffee is Actually Good for You
Drinking several cups of coffee daily is not only just fine, but actually highly beneficial for most people.
It’s been found that drinking coffee is significantly associated with higher T-scores – hence a lower risk of osteoporosis in men and premenopausal women.
What’s more, recent evidence suggests that coffee consumption can help reduce the risk of several diseases: type 2 diabetes, Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Boosts Antioxidant Levels
Coffee (either caffeinated or decaffeinated) is actually one of the most significant sources of antioxidants in the American Diet.
And when it comes to antioxidants, the big star in coffee is polyphenols.
What makes polyphenols so special when it comes to bone health specifically, is it has been shown to influence proliferation of osteoblasts (the cells that make bone). Even at low concentrations, polyphenols can affect bone metabolism.
Coffee lowers a hormone secreted by fat cells that promote inflammation called leptin.
Chronically elevated leptin levels are associated with obesity, overeating, and inflammation-related diseases including, here we go again, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and most important to us, osteoporosis.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are 9 more surprising health benefits of coffee.
Can Coffee Increase Urinary Excretion Of Calcium?
As you may know, there’s been some news swirling around about caffeine and calcium absorption.
Namely, that caffeine can increase the loss of calcium in the urine and thereby decrease calcium absorption in the body.
It’s true that coffee can increase our urinary excretion of calcium – but only slightly.
This can easily be offset by taking your coffee with some form of calcium-containing milk, regularly eating calcium-rich foods, and taking a good calcium supplement that’s proven to reverse bone loss.
By maintaining a balance between your caffeine and calcium intake you’ll be in a much better position to protect your bones.
Caffeinated vs. Decaffeinated Coffee
Of course, no coffee-related controversy would be complete without discussing caffeinated versus decaffeinated coffee.
Decaffeinated coffee is simply coffee beans that have roughly 97% of their caffeine removed prior to roasting. While this may slightly change the color and aroma of decaffeinated coffee beans, it doesn’t impact their nutrition.
When it comes to bone health, there is speculation (not concrete studies) that since decaf coffee tends to be a specific type of coffee bean naturally higher in acid, it could have a negative impact on bones.
Again, there is no study proving this, so it’s no reason to switch to caffeinated coffee or give up coffee altogether. Lara Pizzorno will also share more information about decaffeinated coffee in her video below or read the transcript, here.
The Bottom Line on Coffee and Bone Density
As you can see, you can still enjoy your morning (and afternoon) coffee and have healthy bones.
In fact, drinking coffee may actually help improve your bone health! So don’t worry about having that cup, or two or three each day– so long as you’re not dousing it in bone-depleting sugar!
That said, the best route to healthy bones is a healthy diet with lots of calcium rich-foods, along with an active lifestyle. Better still, add in the world’s only calcium supplement guaranteed to increase bone density, year after year.
It’s guilt-free as well: coming from a natural, plant-based calcium source that also naturally contains all 13 trace minerals your bones need for optimal density.