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Can Drinking Alcohol Protect Your Bones?

According to a study published in the March 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition moderate alcohol consumption may protect your bones.

Researchers from the USDA Human Nutrition Center at Tufts University recruited 1,182 men and 1,537 women over the age of 60 for the study.

Participants self reported their alcohol consumption and researchers analyzed bone mineral density (BMD) at three hip locations and at the spine.

After adjusting for outside influences like calcium intake, smoking history and environmental factors the researchers found that participants who reported drinking one or two alcoholic beverages per day had hip BMD significantly greater than non drinkers.

The researchers also note that BMD was substantially lower in those who drank more than two servings of liquor per day.

The association between alcohol consumption and BMD was higher for beer drinkers (mostly men) and wine drinkers (mostly women) compared to liquor drinkers.

For beer drinkers, the benefit could be related to silicon found in beer which has been shown to support done density. While the mechanism behind the wine benefits is less clear, researchers believe that antioxidants in wine may have a protective effect on bone minerals.

In addition to moderate alcohol consumption, previous research has shown that calcium, vitamin D and plant pigments called carotenoids may also help protect bones.
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