While many understand the relationship between calcium and strong bones, the link between caffeine and bone density is still unclear, although research suggests one may in fact exist. If you have a history of osteoporosis or are concerned about your bone health, pay close attention to determine if you may need to cut out the coffee while adding more milk to your diet.
The research on caffeine intake and bone loss appears to be a mixed bag with limited research. While a 2004 Tufts University article appearing on the Health and Age website said caffeine could affect bone density, a later MSNBC report recanted these findings. The Health and Age article summarized the findings of a 2001 "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" study, which indicated that dietary factors like caffeine played a role in calcium loss and bone strength. Involving 450 women ages 65 to 77, those who consumed more caffeine showed a higher rate of bone loss after a three-year period. According to an MSNBC report from 2004, high caffeine consumption appears to only cause bone density loss in elderly women who don't get sufficient caffeine in their daily diet.
Targeted Bone Loss
Conducted by Prema B. Rapuri and published in the 2001 "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," the study surprisingly showed targeted bone loss. While initial results showed no difference, after a three-year period those women who consumed larger amounts of caffeine and who had an unusual variation in their cell vitamin D receptors had a greater bone density loss in their spine. There was no difference in the bone loss rates at other sites measured, including the hips and thigh bones.
A Scientific Mystery
It is a recognized medical fact, according to Health and Age, that women lose more bone density than men during the aging process. What remains unclear, however, is the role that caffeine plays in accelerating that loss.
According to a 2004 MSNBC report, as long as your vitamin D receptor gene is not defective and you are not elderly, there is little to worry about, as caffeine does not seem to adversely affect bone density in premenopausal women. If you are elderly, make sure to get the recommended 1,200 mg of calcium a day, and drink no more than 300 mg of caffeine per day, the equivalent of 18 oz. of coffee or five cups of tea, to keep your bone density levels stable.
A Balancing Act
While the evidence points to a potential role of caffeine in bone density loss, Health and Age notes some scientists think if you take enough calcium, you will offset caffeine’s negative effect on aging bones. The key, in other words, is balance and moderation.
The Cola-Caffeine Connection
While the carbonation in sodas does not appear to cause harm, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, it is possible that the combination of caffeine and phosphorous found in certain colas can lead to bone loss. Similar to caffeine and calcium, some experts believe that caffeinated sodas do not pose a problem as long as you also get enough calcium in the diet.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.