Caffeine is usually associated with coffee, but it is also present in other commonly consumed foods and beverages including tea, cola, energy drinks and cocoa beans. According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association (AMA), a moderate intake of caffeine (200mg to 300 mg per day) is safe for adult consumption. If individuals cross the safe limit specified by the aforementioned authorities they put themselves at an increased risk of suffering from bone loss. Several research studies have found links between increased consumption of caffeine and bone loss. Read on to find out what causes bone loss, and what researchers have to say about the connection between caffeine and bone loss.
What Causes Bone Loss?
According to Melissa Conrad Stoppler, M.D, U.S. board certified anatomic pathologist, bone loss is a condition in which a greater volume of bone is reabsorbed instead of formed by the body. The answer for what causes bone loss can be traced to factors such as age, dietary habits, lack of exercise, smoking, and medications such as corticosteroids. The process of new bone formation continues till the age of 30, when peak bone density is achieved. After this age bone re-absorption begins to overtake bone formation, which leads to bone loss. Women tend to suffer from bone loss more than men, especially in the first few years after menopause. Men can also develop bone loss diseases such as osteoporosis but they tend to suffer from them at a later stage in life.
Caffeine and Bone Loss: Research
A research study conducted by the Creighton University’s Bone Metabolism Unit has linked increased caffeine intake with accelerated bone loss. The participants of the research study were elderly postmenopausal women who consumed more than 300 mg of caffeine daily. The participants suffered more spinal bone loss than women with a caffeine intake of less than 300 mg per day. This caffeine and bone loss connection is further substantiated by a study conducted by L.K.Massey and S.J. Whiting of Washington State University. The study was published as ‘Caffeine, Urinary Calcium, Calcium metabolism and Bone’. According to the authors, oral caffeine doses led to an increase in the excretion of calcium, sodium, magnesium and chloride in the urine up to 3 hours after consumption. This caffeine and bone loss research study pointed out that increased intake of caffeine can lead to osteoporosis.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) quantify high doses of caffeine as being above 400 mg per day. While most Americans are in the moderate and safe range with daily consumptions of about 280 mg, about 20% to 30% of Americans consume about 600 mg of caffeine per day. This puts them at an increased risk of suffering from bone loss and other possible caffeine withdrawal symptoms identified by experts at Johns Hopkins University which include fatigue, irritability, mood swings, low concentration, flu-like symptoms and muscle pain.
It is argued that these research studies are not comprehensive enough to be able to ascertain the true link between caffeine and bone loss. Regardless of whether the results are accurate for all age groups, races and genders, the limits specified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) should be followed to ensure good physical and emotional health.