Silicon in beer helps against osteoporosis

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
alcohol and body
18/09/2003

Much research has been conducted into a possible link between beer consumption and bone density with focus on possible importance of silicon in the beer.

Silicon may influence bone and cartilage formation. This hypothesis is based on the observation in tests on animals that a low-silicon diet stunts the growth and development of the skeleton. Experimental studies designed to find this connection between silicon in the daily diet and increased bone density is still not sufficiently advanced to allow any definitive conclusions to be drawn, but the first results are promising. It has been established, for example, that a silicon supplement in the diet of post-menopausal women suffering from osteoporosis can reduce or even reverse their loss of bone density. Furthermore, new in vitro research suggests that silicon evidently stimulates the cells that produce collagen, which play an important part in bone formation.

Dr. Jonathan Powell from Kings College London has put forward the hypothesis that beer may be a good source of silicon. Using an American data base he was able to estimate the relative contribution of food and drink to the intake of silicon. It emerged that beer gave the largest contribution with approximately 17%, followed by bananas (9.1%), white bread (4.6%), cold cereals (4.5%) and coffee (3.5%). Major differences undoubtedly exist between American and European diet. Among other things, beer consumption is much greater in Europe than in the United States. If there in fact is a link between silicon intake and bone density, then we may also expect to find a correlation between beer consumption and bone density. Dr. Powell’s work in this connection is almost completed and will soon appear in print, but the first results suggest that such a correlation does indeed exist.

Silicon is not, however, the only ingredient in beer that is effective against osteoporosis. In modest doses alcohol is a protective factor, probably due to the effect of alcohol, influencing the concentration of oestrogen in the blood. Oestrogen therapy is used against osteoporosis after all. Finally there is yet another constituent of beer that may protect against osteoporosis. The hop constituent humulone is known to be able to fight the process of bone resorption.

Further research by Dr. Powell will turn around the origin of the silicon in beer. Certain types of beer have a much higher silicon content than others. Some of the steps in the brewing process may explain these differences.

Source:Brauwelt International, 2003/III

 

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