Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Beer and Bones

I had to drop some paperwork off at the paying job this morning. It was still quite early, but a few of our local homeless guys were already sitting in the weak Maine winter sun, on a porch a few doors down from the shelter where I work, drinking beer from tallboys--sort of concealed in paper bags. Now, it turns out, those guys must be making themselves some really strong bones. Read on.

LiveScience has a piece covering a study of the silicon content of various beers. The study, by researchers from UC Davis, was published in the February issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Here's the good news for beer drinkers: dietary intake of silicon is apparently necessary for the development and maintenance of healthy bones--and beer is a great source of bioavailable silicon.

From the LiveScience article:
...a new analysis of 100 commercial beers shows the hoppy beverage is a significant source of dietary silicon, a key ingredient for bone health.
Though past research has suggested beer is chockfull of silicon, little was known about how silicon levels varied with the type of beer and malting process used. So a pair of researchers took one for the team and ran chemical analyses on beer's raw ingredients. They also picked up 100 commercial beers from the grocery store and measured the silicon content.
The silicon content of the beers ranged from 6.4 mg/L to 56.5 mg/L, with an average of 30 mg/L. Two beers are the equivalent of just under a half liter, so a person could get 30 mg of the nutrient from two beers. And while there is no official recommendation for daily silicon uptake, the researchers say, in the United States, individuals consume between 20 and 50 mg of silicon each day.
"Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon," Bamforth said. "Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element. While most of the silicon remains in the husk during brewing, significant quantities of silicon nonetheless are extracted into wort and much of this survives into beer."
The silicon levels of beer types, on average:
  • India Pale Ale (IPA): 41.2 mg/L
  • Ales: 32.8 mg/L
  • Pale Ale: 36.5 mg/L
  • Sorghum: 27.3 mg/L
  • Lagers: 23.7 mg/L
  • Wheat: 18.9 mg/L
  • Light lagers: 17.2 mg/L
  • Non Alcoholic: 16.3 mg/L
Read the rest of the LiveScience article.

Photo credit: Kozzmo via Wikimedia.

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