Several studies have established an association between bone health and moderate consumption of our favorite beverage, beer. These benefits arise from the relatively high levels of silicon found in beer.
The article “Silicon in beer and brewing” by Dr. Charles Bamforth at UC Davis which was published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture confirmed that beer is a rich source of silicon in the diet. The study also quantified the relationship between silicon content, the beer style, and the manner in which beer is produced. Beers made with barley grists tended to have higher silicon levels than beers made with wheat grists.
It has previously been claimed that beer is one of the richest sources of silicon in the diet, and this may be particularly relevant for healthy bones. In 2004, Dr Jonathan Powell released “New research shows potential health benefits of moderate beer drinking” in the British Journal of Nutrition that established that the silicon in beer is bio-available. He also determined just how much silicon is found in beer.
Additional studies include “Effects of beer, wine, and liquor intakes on bone mineral density in older men and women”, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009. Researchers including Dr. Powell found that moderate consumption of alcohol was associated with bone health in men and postmenopausal women, with silicon moderating the association in beer. The study also quantified silicon levels in various alcoholic beverages, with the average beer containing about three times as much silicon as the average wine. As always, the benefits depend on moderation, as this editorial echoes.