Is Coffee Safe for Bones?
Lara Pizzorno is the author of “Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life – Naturally” and a member of the American Medical Writers Association with 29 years of experience specializing in bone health.
Recently we asked Lara if she would help us provide a series of short, ongoing videos to help you (our customers and readers) stay up to date on the latest facts and science related to bone health and overcoming osteoporosis naturally.
In this latest video, Lara discusses the topic of coffee and bone health. And whether or not it is safe for your bones. Watch the video below (or read the transcript provided) and let us know what you think in the comments. 🙂
Hello, I’m Lara Pizzorno the author of “Your Bones” and I’m here today to provide information to you that I hope will help you have healthy bones.
Today the topic for our conversation is coffee, one of my favorite drinks, and the question is, is it safe for your bones?
Just a couple of weeks ago I heard from a woman with osteopenia who wanted to know if she should give up her morning cup of coffee and she wrote me, quote,
“Would you be able to share with me what might have turned up about coffee consumption after all your research on osteoporosis. I’m so confused about whether or not a cup of coffee, or two or three cups is harmful or not. I’m osteopenic and have a lot of back pain due to a series of auto accidents. Coffee helps to clear my head in the morning and also seems to reduce my pain.” End of quote.
Happily, I was able to assure her that drinking several cups of coffee daily is not only just fine, but actually highly beneficial for most people.
Those of us who have trouble detoxifying caffeine will do best with decaffeinated coffee, but even decaffeinated coffee contains highly protective anti inflammatory compounds that help prevent type 2 diabetes, several types of cancer and alzheimer’s disease. Coffee really helps with these conditions.
People who drink 4 or more cups of coffee daily have a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes and type 2 diabetes a highly inflammatory condition throughout the body, does promote bone loss.
How does coffee lower your risk of type 2 diabetes? Because of two categories of compounds that are found in coffee caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid. These protect cells in the pancreas that produce and secrete insulin. In addition, coffee increases the secretion of a hormone called adiponectin, which is secreted by fat cells and is involved in regulating food sugar levels and in burning fatty acids. Higher levels of adiponectin are protective against not just type 2 diabetes but obesity and atherosclerosis and non alcoholic fatty liver disease.
If you’ve read “Your Bones” you know that each of these conditions there is a component of chronically increased inflammation and thus all of them increase the activation of osteoclasts and increase the risk for osteoporosis. So coffee, by preventing to help them, is helping to protect your bones. And coffee also lowers another hormone secreted by fat cells that promotes 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. Coffee also lowers another marker of inflammation called high sensitivity, C reactive protein and in many studies on bone, one of the things that they checked to see if bone formation, if bone resorption is occurring too rapidly they check levels of HSCRP.
Other constituents in coffee 5O caffeoylquinic acid or CGA and methylpyridinium, MNP, triggered the activation of a key antioxidant, so an antiinflammatory pathway called the NERF 2 antioxidant response element. This is a detox pathway that is involved with the activation of some of our most important internally produced antioxidant enzymes the glutathione s transferases. So these help lower inflammation in the body and thus help to protect our bones from excessive activation of osteoclasts based on serving size or daily units, coffee contains larger amounts of these very beneficial phenolic phytochemicals than does tea or even red wine. In fact, just drinking one cup of coffee causes an increase in the resistance of our LDL cholesterol to free radical damage, which is the first step in the development of atherosclerosis. Coffee’s protective effects on cholesterol are probably a result of the incorporation of coffee’s phenolic acids into LDL. Recent studies have shown that coffee lowers risks of what is referred to in the medical literature as quote unquote all-cause mortality. Translated into english, this means death from all causes.
The results of a very impressive very large study showing that coffee helps lower risk of death from all causes was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in May of 2012. This was a very large study involving 229,119 men and 173,141 women who were participants in the National Institutes of Health AARP Diet and Health Study and were 50-71 years of age at baseline.
When the researchers compared risk of death of those who drank coffee compared to those who did not, they found it was 10% lower for men drinking 2-3 cups of coffee per day and 12% lower for men that drank 4 cups. Among women, the reduction of risk of death from all causes was even greater, 13% for 2-3 cups and 16% for 4-5 cups.
Coffee obviously is not a great source of vitamins and minerals but as a plant-based drink it does contain some and a few that we should getting more of.Let’s start with magnesium.
A cup of coffee provides:
- About 7 mg of magnesium, which is a drop in the daily requirement bucket, but because we don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains the average americans intake falls about 100 mg short of the daily goal recommended for magnesium intake. And a cup of coffee can help close that gap a little.
- A cup of coffee also provides about 160 mg of potassium, which can help offset some of the negative consequences of the excessive amounts of sodium in all the processed foods that most of us eat. And about 116 mg of potassium per cup, coffee’s contribution towards the 4700 mg of potassium we are supposed to be getting daily is quite tiny, but it’s still something.
- And a cup of coffee also has tiny amounts of niacin, choline as well, two B vitamins that are very beneficial for numerous reasons.
It’s true that coffee can slightly increase our urinary excretion of calcium but this can easily be balanced by taking your coffee with some form of calcium containing milk and taking a good calcium supplement and lastly, ensuring that your vitamin D levels are at adequate, a good range of 60-80 ng per mL of 25OHD.
Study after study has been done to try to show that coffee causes problems for our bones with the results of all these studies keep failing to find any evidence to support this fear. In fact, their findings are just the opposite. The two most recent papers evaluating the effect of drinking coffee on bone that have appeared on PubMed are a study conducted by Swedish researchers that was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2013 and then another study that was conducted by Korean researchers that was published in the Journal of Korean Family Medicine in 2014. The Swedish researchers looked at whether drinking coffee over many years was related to an increased risk of fracture decrease in bone mineral density as people aged. This analysis included data on 61,433 women who were born sometime between 1914 and 1948 and were followed from 1987 to 2008 to see what was happening with their bones.
There was no evidence of a higher rate of hip or any other type of fracture even with increasing coffee consumption.
What was considered a high coffee intake was more than 4 cups of coffee per day versus the low intake of less than 1 cup of coffee per day was associated with a very small reduction in bone density that did not translate into an increased risk of fracture.
The Korean researchers evaluated the effects of coffee consumption on bone mineral density in Korean premenopausal women. The authors obtained data from the 4th Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey which was conducted through 2008-2009 and consisted of 1761 Korean premenopausal women. As usual, they found that coffee consumption showed no significant association with the bone mineral density of either the femoral neck which is in the hip area, the femur or the lumbar spine.
The author of a companion article in the same issue advised limiting coffee consumption to 3 cups per day since more might, and I emphasis might, given all the research on coffee and its beneficial effects, but it might be a problem if and only if calcium intake was inadequate.
Coffee’s numerous beneficial effects however have been repeatedly and clearly substantiated. Coffee clearly protects us against inflammation via numerous mechanisms and anything that helps prevent chronic inflammation will help lessen your risk of osteoporosis. Ensure that your calcium intake is adequate, take your coffee with some cow’s milk or calcium enriched soy mich or other calcium rich non dairy milk. Take AlgaeCal Plus and enjoy your coffee! Thanks for tuning in.
Cheng B, Liu X, Gong H, Huang L, Chen H, Zhang X, Li C, Yang M, Ma B, Jiao L, Zheng L, Huang K. “Coffee Components Inhibit Amyloid Formation of Human Islet Amyloid Polypeptide in Vitro: Possible Link between Coffee Consumption and Diabetes Mellitus.” J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Dec 28;59(24):13147-55.
Boettler U, Volz N, Pahlke G, et al. Coffees rich in chlorogenic acid or N-methylpyridinium induce chemopreventive phase II-enzymes via the Nrf2/ARE pathway in vitro and in vivo. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 May;55(5):798-802. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100115. Epub 2011 Mar 24. PMID: 21448860
Kang NJ, Lee KW, Shin BJ, et al. Caffeic acid, a phenolic phytochemical in coffee, directly inhibits Fyn kinase activity and UVB-induced COX-2 expression. Carcinogenesis. 2009 Feb;30(2):321-30. Epub 2008 Dec 10. PMID: 19073879
Natella F, Nardini M, Belelli F, et al. Coffee drinking induces incorporation of phenolic acids into LDL and increases the resistance of LDL to ex vivo oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Sep;86(3):604-9. PMID: 17823423
Freedman ND, Park Y, Abnet CC, Hollenbeck AR, et al. Association of coffee drinking with total and cause-specific mortality. N Engl J Med. 2012 May 17;366(20):1891-904. PMID: 22591295
Hallström H, Byberg L, Glynn A, et al. Long-term coffee consumption in relation to fracture risk and bone mineral density in women. Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Sep 15;178(6):898-909. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwt062. Epub 2013 Jul 23. PMID: 23880351
Choi EJ, Kim KH, Koh YJ, et al., Coffee consumption and bone mineral density in Korean premenopausal women. Korea J Fam Med 2014;35:11-8.
Kim SY. Coffee consumption and risk of osteoporosis. Korean J Fam Med. 2014 Jan;35(1):1. doi: 10.4082/kjfm.2014.35.1.1. PMID: 24501663 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC3912260