A Toast to Your Bones

Toast to your bones – how alcohol can affect your bones.

In the nutrition world, there are often mixed messages about the benefits and risk of certain thing on your health. We hear something is good for us, then it is not, then it is… Most of the time, it is one of two things that create confusion: 1) new research helps us better understand the role of certain foods and lifestyle habits and their impact our health or 2) reports on the research are misleading and aren’t properly conveyed.The latest bit of information is alcohol consumption in women and their bone health. For years, excessive or too much alcohol consumption is well-known for its effect on bone health. This is primarily because it may lower our intake of calcium and it increases our risk for falls (leading to broken bones).

Now, a recent study, with 40 participants, conducted at Oregon State University found that moderate alcohol consumption may HELP reduce bone loss in post-menopausal women. As all of us age, our bones are still going through the process of “turnover.” Unfortunately, we don’t build up as much bone as we lose when we are older, and especially after menopause.

According to the research, the alcohol consumption appears to slow down the rate of turnover – which is a good thing. Even more interesting is that when the alcohol consumption stops, the bone turnover increased, and when alcohol consumption resumed the bone turnover slowed almost immediately.

Moderate alcohol consumption in women is one alcoholic drink per day. This doesn’t mean that women should have what adds up to being an average of one alcoholic drink per day – for example, this does not mean three drinks on Friday, three drinks on Saturday and another one on Sunday. This means that one drink equivalent per day, use it or lose it. What is “one-drink”? One-drink is one 12-ounce beer, one 4-5 ounce glass of wine (not 6 or 8 ounces), OR one 1½-ounces of spirits, such as vodka, rum, whiskey or tequila. More is not healthier. (Men get two drinks per day.)

BOTTOM LINE MESSAGE (as always): If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation. This is true for men and women. Only moderate consumption is beneficial – not more.

Oregon State University (2012, July 11). Moderate alcohol consumption may help prevent bone loss, study suggests.

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