Alcohol Effects on Bones, Risk for Osteoporosis

Bone Healthy Living / Health / Nutrition / June 8, 2016

Excessive Alcohol & Osteoporosis

Drinking & Your Risk of Fracture | Drink Less for Stronger Bones

The evidence is clear.

If you are a heavy drinker (more than 3 ounces every day) you are at risk for many illnesses and diseases, including increased bone density loss and osteoporosis.

And it does not matter your age. Increased drinking during your developmental years (adolescence and young adulthood) has a dramatic effect on your bone health. But studies show there is a dramatic effect on people past 70!

You already know that calcium is essential for bone health. Alcohol is the natural enemy of calcium. There are several negative affects calcium suffers when you drink too much alcohol.

Most critically, not enough calcium gets into your bones.

Excess alcohol consumption does not allow calcium to adequately absorb in your stomach. The pancreas will not process calcium and vitamin D properly. The liver, a vital organ in the calcium – vitamin D connection – will stop helping effectively.

And, as they say on TV, “Wait, there’s more…”

Alcohol affects your hormones. Estrogen is crucial to bone remodeling. But excessive drinking drops estrogen levels, and that means increased bone density loss.

While dropping estrogen levels, too much alcohol will increase levels of cortisol and parathyroid hormone. Higher amounts of these two speeds bone loss, interferes with calcium levels and boosts bone breakdown.

Finally, excessive drinking often goes hand-in-hand with poor nutrition. So, heavy drinkers tend to get less of the nutrients their bodies – and their bones – really need to stay healthy.

Drinking & Your Risk Of Fracture

High alcohol consumption has negative effects on bone health and increases your risk to suffer a fracture.

Although alcohol’s damaging effects on bones are most striking in people who drink heavily during adolescence and young adulthood, research shows that elderly women (between the ages of 67 and 90) who consumed an average of more than 3 ounces of alcohol per day (the equivalent of six typical alcoholic drinks) had greater bone loss than women who had minimal alcohol intake.(2)

A study conducted in July, 2005 calculated the risk. (1) It looked at the relationship of the risk in regards to age, sex, and bone mineral density.Beer flight with nuts - Alcohol osteoporosis

The study looked at 5,939 men and 11,032 women. They followed the habits of these people for the equivalent of 75,433 person-years. The effect of reported alcohol intake on the risk of any fracture, any osteoporotic fracture, and hip fracture alone was examined.

The results of the study showed alcohol intake was associated with a significant increase in osteoporotic and hip fracture risk. While no significant increase in risk was observed at alcohol consumption of 2 drinks or less daily, above this amount, alcohol intake increased the risk of any fracture and specifically hip fractures.

The risk ratios were moderately but not significantly higher in men than in women, and there was no evidence for a different threshold by gender.

The researchers concluded, “That intake of alcohol confers a risk of some importance beyond that explained by bone density loss.”

Another risk for fracture comes from some of the specific symptoms of excessive consumption.

Alcohol affects both balance and gait. People with alcohol problems tend to fall more frequently than those without the disorder.

There is a link between heavy alcohol consumption and an increase in the risk of fracture, including the most serious kind: hip fracture. Vertebral fractures are also more common in those who abuse alcohol.

Some bone fractures can be attributed to alcohol, due to car accidents or falls. Plus, in addition to contributing to bone fractures, alcohol also impairs the healing process.

Drink Less for Stronger Bones

Temptation and opportunity abound.

As we head into the summer months, you face a menu of picnics, backyard BBQs, family gatherings and the office happy hour after work.

It seems that at each of these occasions, everyone else is having more than their fair share of alcohol and enjoying themselves completely.

Excess alcohol consumption is an issue, but research has shown that moderate alcohol consumption (particularly red wine 1-2 glasses) may actually be beneficial for bone health.

According to a recent study(2), a glass or two of red wine works as well as drugs like bisphosphonates to keep bones strong and ease the development of osteoporosis.

However, make no mistake it is wine or beer and not any other form of alcohol that drives home the benefit to the thinning bones. Also, caution is to be practiced in terms of the amount of wine that is being consumed. Any more than a glass or two will do damage.

So, don’t over indulge and focus on a glass of red wine to compliment your meal.

The following are a few practical suggestions for stronger bones: 

  • Food

Make healthy food choices. Make sure you get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs every day. Read the labels on packaged food, and eat fresh foods whenever possible. This will give a natural boost to your bone-building efforts and will improve your healing processes.

Make sure your diet includes adequate amounts of calcium, including dairy products; dark green, and leafy vegetables.

Read the labels and look for the vitamin D levels. Great food supplies of vitamin D come from egg yolks, saltwater fish, and liver. Although sunshine is your best source.

  • Alcohol osteoporosis Exercise

Give your muscles a good workout and gives your bones a good workout too.

Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging, climbing stairs and even a few turns around the dance floor are all great ways to get in your bone-healthy exercise. Start out easy, and then increase the time you exercise to a maximum of 60 minutes at least three times per week. It’s also important to incorporate stretching. Stretching is an often neglected exercise, but can increase mobility and range of motion. 

  • Lifestyle

Don’t smoke. Studies show that smokers drink more and drinkers smoke more.

Smokers absorb less calcium from the food they eat. But when smokers begin a “stop smoking” program, they usually cut back on their alcohol intake too. (The reverse is also true, studies show.)

  • Supplement

There is no doubt that drinking plenty of water (in place of alcohol) is good for your body. So, when you drink your water with breakfast and dinner, supplement with bone-building with AlgaeCal Plus.

The daily dose of AlgaeCal Plus ensures you get all the right amounts of calcium, vitamins D3 and K2, magnesium, boron and more than 70 other trace minerals your bones need to increase bone density. This unique, plant-based calcium product has clinical proof it increases bone density (no matter your age) in as little as 6 months! Discover more about AlgaeCal Plus here.

  1. Kanis JA, Johansson H, Johnell O, Oden A, De Laet C, Eisman JA, Pols H, Tenenhouse A. Alcohol intake as a risk factor for fracture.Osteoporos Int. 2005 Jul;16(7):737-42. Epub 2004 Sep 29.

Two weeks ago I watched in Las Vegas PBS Mark Hyman, MD presenting result of his research on sugar and carbohydrate intake vs fat. In his opinion, sugar and carbo contribute more to obesity, diabetes and heart diseases compared to fat. Therefore he recommends a diet of good healthy fat (i.e unprocessed, virgin and cold press like a good Olive oil) and very low in carb and sugar.

If sugar is bad for our health, maybe the rules about wine should be rewritten. How much sugar is actually in the average red and white wine? And isn’t it so that for every individual senior, the tolerable maximum amount of wine or alcohol intake could vary? Someone with compromised liver or who tires fast after drinking e.g. may have to accept a lower maximum of red wine he/she can drink than the ‘1-2 cups’ a day.


Hi May,

Great points. We believe in bioindividuality – that everyone has their own specific needs for their health according to their lifestyle, beliefs, age etc. So yes, depending on whether or not you have a comprised liver, your age and what your tolerable intake is, you should take this into consideration.

According to the USDA a glass of white wine contains 1.5 tsp. of sugar, while red wine contains 1/4 tsp. of sugar per glass.

– Monica from AlgaeCal

Diane Martinson
Diane Martinson

What about white wine is that beneficial too? I have a glass each night.

Diane Martinson
Diane Martinson

Please excuse the multiple questions but when I log on they didn’t show up so I didn’t think they went through, even now it says no comments.


Hi Diane,

The study cited was specific to red wine, but I have seen some positive studies about white wine as well. White wine contains flavanoids, which have antioxidant properties, just like red.

– Monica from AlgaeCal

Maria Castellano
Maria Castellano

My question is I had a bone density test done last year, it was ..2%.
My Dr said recently I should take a Prescription pill once a week. I don’t like the side effects that are listed ..
I do take D3, K2, B complex, biotin, clucosamine & chondrotine..1000 mg also tums..Everything Organic..
What bothers me about my Dr. she said you can’t reverse bone density, yet you say you can ..
Please I need advise about this..


Hi Maria,

Unfortunately, your Dr. is similar to most in recommending prescription drugs and not believing in the power of diet, exercise and supplementation.

Regarding TUMS – The active ingredient in TUMS is calcium carbonate, which comes from pure limestone. This means you’re literally eating rocks! And is one of the reasons why it’s not well absorbed by the body. (Calcium carbonate has been shown to cause constipation after all) Also, the manufacturers themselves point out that TUMS are not an optimal calcium supplement!

In order to supplement with an optimal calcium source, you need to know what to look for:

– Plant-Based: As it’s better absorbed, easier to digest and will not cause bloating, gas or constipation.
– Additional vitamins and minerals: Your bones need more than just calcium! Look for a supplement with magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, vitamin C, and boron.
– Clinical proof: Medical studies on the product itself will give you an indication of its safety and efficacy.
– Social proof: Look for success stories, before and after DXA scans and real people who have benefited and seen results from the product.

AlgaeCal Plus is the only calcium supplement proven with clinical trials to increase bone density… even in 80 year old women! It comes from a plant-based calcium source that is wild and hand harvested. And it gives you a balance of not only calcium, but the bone building nutrients you need.

If you’d like to look at the prominent and peer-reviewed research you can do so here:
If you’d like to look at the success stories from people like you who have increased their bone density (proven with before and after DEXA scans) you can do so here:

Let me know if you need anything else, Maria!

Knowledge is power.

– Monica from AlgaeCal

Lynne Dellarcrone-Crone
Lynne Dellarcrone-Crone

Hi Monica I bought the algae cal plus and strontium boost. I frightened myself by reading about strontium. So decided not to take it! Am hoping that my bones will still get stronger anyway. ? By the way I have been taking x2 tablets at breakfast and lunch! I notice it recommends evening? Am I doing it wrong? Lynne


Hi Lynne,

Sorry to hear you were frightened reading about Strontium. Not sure if you read the following article by Lara Pizzorno talking about Strontium’s safety, efficacy and more: but it should dispell some common myths (and scary things!) you might have read. As for AlgaeCal Plus, no you’re not doing it wrong :). We recommend two capsules at breakfast and two at lunch, but you can also take them at dinner!

– Monica from AlgaeCal

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