Osteoporosis is a serious condition involving a significant decrease in bone density leading to fragile bones. Established osteoporosis risk factors include low calcium, smoking, lack of exercise and age but, as the current body of research indicates, do not include coffee,
Early research in this area, in the 1960s and 1970s, suggested that the caffeine in coffee prompted the body to excrete calcium and therefore increase risk of osteoporosis. More recently, extensive medical research in this area has dismissed this notion. While it is acknowledged that there may be some calcium excretion it is not in significant amounts and there is not greater risk of osteoporosis.
It has been generally acknowledged that early studies failed to adjust for other factors and only showed this effect in women with deficient calcium intake with no daily milk consumption.
Currently, there is broad medical consensus that coffee consumption is not a risk factor in osteoporosis. While high coffee consumption is not recommended for women who are already quite calcium deficient, drinking coffee within the usually recommended levels has been shown to have a neutral or insignificant effect.
In fact, given that 90 per cent of coffee drinkers enjoy it served with milk, cutting out daily coffee could actually decrease levels of bone-building calcium.
Major studies have concluded that there is no association between coffee, or other caffeine beverages, and lower bone density, challenging previous misperceptions on this topic.
In 2002, a comprehensive review of the medical literature on this topic was conducted and published in Food and Chemical Toxicology. It’s author concluded that “There is no evidence that caffeine has any harmful effect on bone status or on the calcium economy in individuals who ingest the currently recommended daily allowances of calcium.” (ref)
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I really enjoy my morning coffee but I have heard that I should stay away from it to keep my bones healthy as I get older. Can I continue to have coffee every day?
The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to get plenty of calcium and vitamin D into your diet and look to weight bearing exercise to help build bones. It is a common misperception that coffee prompts the body to excrete calcium and therefore is a contributor to osteoporosis risk. While high levels of daily coffee consumption are not recommended, if you like coffee go ahead and enjoy it in moderate amounts. All the better if you drink it with milk.