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Could Your Java Habit be Good for Your Bone Health?


written by Skye Sherman - Apr 26, 2021
medically reviewed by Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Jul 15, 2021

Photo Credit: by Skye Sherman
Photo Credit: by Skye Sherman

Most of us enjoy a morning cup of coffee to start our days off with a jolt of energy.

In the same way, most of us are aware of the general effects of coffee: its health benefits and drawbacks, the way it tends to affect our mood and energy levels. But very few stop to consider coffee’s effect on bone health. Can coffee affect your bones? Could coffee be good or bad for your bones?

Believe it or not, research suggests that bone health and coffee consumption might go hand in hand. Yes, that means your daily coffee habit may be affecting your bone health, for better or for worse.

In this article, we’ll take a close look at coffee and bone health so you can make well informed decisions about what you choose to consume each day. If coffee is negatively affecting your health in subtle ways, you need to know about it (and if coffee is actually improving your health, non-coffee-drinkers may want to be aware of that, too!).

Spoiler alert: Don’t worry if you’re a habitual coffee drinker in no rush to give up your daily habit. We may have some good news in store for you. Read on to find out.

Can coffee affect your bones?

We all know that coffee affects our energy levels, motivation, and many times, even our overall mood (usually for the better… unless we’re in desperate need of coffee!). But did you know that coffee and bone health are connected, too?

A recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism examined the relationship between coffee consumption and bone health. The results may surprise you: your daily habit of drinking coffee may actually be helping to nourish and strengthen your bones.

An article from the Cleveland Clinic summarized the results of the study this way:

“The study, which looked at data on 564 people, found people who habitually drank coffee had higher bone mass density than non-coffee drinkers. ‘Three metabolites, in particular, were associated with an increase in bone density in the population, and also, a decrease in the risk of fracture,’ said Chad Deal, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic.”

However, the article continues: “Dr. Deal said the relationship between coffee and bone health has been studied before, and the results have been conflicting. Previous research has shown that the more caffeine a person drinks, the more calcium is excreted from the body. And since the main mineral component in bone is calcium, he said this could potentially create a calcium imbalance and inhibit bone formation. Dr. Deal suggests heavy coffee drinkers, who have low bone mass, have testing performed to check calcium excretion levels.”

The article states that the bottom line is that if you’re a coffee drinker, you generally do not need to be worried about its impact on your bone health. It may even be helping you.

In general, based on current research, it seems like coffee is actually good for bone health. This could also be good news as researchers continue to study the connection between coffee and bone health, because they may be able to develop drugs that can improve bone health based on these findings.

Why does bone mineral density matter?

The Hong Kong study found that coffee consumption may be good for your bones because it is linked to better bone mineral density. But what is bone mineral density and why does it matter?

Bone mineral density is a way to measure bone strength. In short, it is the amount of mineral contained in a cubic centimeter of bone, which is usually measured using a special type of X-ray. Minerals in bones are good: substances like calcium and phosphorus help to keep bones strong and prevent breaks and fractures. Obviously, no one wants to have brittle, easily breakable bones.

Getting a bone mineral density test, also called a bone density test, is one way to detect osteoporosis (which translates to “porous bone” in Greek). People with osteoporosis have weak, thin bones that are much more vulnerable to breaking.

On the other hand, those with plenty of minerals in their bones have stronger, denser bones that are less likely to break in a fall or accident. If coffee is linked to better bone density, that is obviously a very positive thing for your health.

Ways to build bone density

Besides coffee, there are ways you can build your bone density. One of the best supporters of bone density is leafy greens, so you should eat plenty of them, both cooked and raw.

An article in Healthline states, “Building healthy bones is extremely important. Minerals are incorporated into your bones during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Once you reach 30 years of age, you have achieved peak bone mass. If not enough bone mass is created during this time or bone loss occurs later in life, you have an increased risk of developing fragile bones that break easily. Fortunately, many nutrition and lifestyle habits can help you build strong bones and maintain them as you age.”

Some of their recommended steps for ensuring healthy bone density include eating lots of vegetables, doing strength-training exercises, consuming the right amount of protein, eating foods that are high in calcium, getting enough vitamin D and vitamin K, and more. Your diet and exercise habits play a major role in your bone health.

Now, scientists are learning that drinking coffee may be an important factor in bone health, too.

Should I stop drinking coffee?

If you are not suffering from negative health effects due to your coffee habit, then there is most likely no reason to quit drinking coffee. Some people need to stop drinking coffee because it is adversely affecting their health such as causing “jitters” or giving them palpitations. Some people just want to stop relying on coffee as a crutch.

Of course, you don’t want to get to a place of caffeine dependence, because this means you have a coffee addiction! You’ll know if this applies to you if you ever miss or skip your morning coffee: you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms or cravings. Many people also complain of headaches if they have to go without coffee but their body relies on it.

If this is the case for you, it may be time to cut back or cut out coffee completely. Luckily, after avoiding coffee for a few days, your caffeine withdrawal symptoms will go away.

It may shock coffee drinkers to hear this, but there are some people in this world who manage to get through their daily lives without drinking coffee at all. Nope, not even one cup! Maybe it’s because they don’t like the taste of coffee or it doesn’t agree with them, but no matter the reason, they do manage to get up in the morning and get going without a dose of java.

How do these non-coffee-drinkers get through their day? Maybe they take a nap (which can be bad for you, so be careful!) or maybe they drink green tea instead. Maybe they begin their day with yoga to help perk up their senses. But their coping strategies aren’t what’s important here: the important fact is that it is possible to cut out coffee if you want or need to.

You don’t need to start or stop drinking coffee unless you want or need to, but just remember that whatever you need to do for the sake of your physical or mental health is totally possible. Never avoid making the choices you need to make just because you don’t feel like you can. Remember the saying: “If you don’t make time for your health now, you’ll make time for your illness later.”

Taking care of your bone health: osteoporosis medications and more

Some people require osteoporosis medications to ensure their bone health. A doctor can recommend or prescribe specific bone health medications according to the needs of the patient. If you have osteoarthritis, you know the pain of dealing with stiff joints, aches, and pains.

However, it’s important to note that drug availability is subject to change. For example, Sandoz Canada has withdrawn Calcium Sandoz Forte 500mg from the market. The current status of Calcium Sandoz Forte 500mg, according to the Government of Canada, is listed as “cancelled post market.” In this case, patients specifically searching for the Sandoz product will no longer be able to find it.

But if that’s the bone health medication you were expecting or have grown used to, this could be a problem for you. It’s important to consult a health care provider on what you should do if a drug you rely on, like Calcium Sandoz Forte 500mg, becomes unavailable. In these cases, a doctor will likely recommend a similar prescription substitute or create a new bone health plan for you. Your coffee habits may need to change, depending on the advice of your doctor.

For most people, drinking coffee is just as common as taking immune-boosting supplements like Nutrazul or downing a daily vitamin. You may need to make it part of your routine, too, in support of your bone health.

Overall, ensuring bone health is a vital step in overall health. You may be required to take prescription osteoporosis medications, but it may also be a good idea to supplement with a healthy coffee habit, too, since researchers are discovering that coffee is linked to good bone density. Maybe it’s time to start drinking coffee if you are not already a java drinker!

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