WebMD Health News
Louise Chang, MD
Feb. 8, 2010 -- Drinking beer may be good for building more than just beer
bellies. A new study suggests that drinking beer may help build better bones
thanks to its high silicon content.
According to the National Institutes of Health, dietary silicon in the
soluble form of orthosilicic acid (OSA) may be important for the growth and
development of bone and connective tissue and help reduce the risk of the
bone-thinning disease osteoporosis.
Based on those findings, some studies have suggested that moderate beer
drinking may help fight osteoporosis, but researchers say the silicon content
of beer has never been thoroughly evaluated until now. The results show that
beer indeed is a significant source of bone-building silicon in OSA form.
The study analyzed 100 commercially available beers for their silicon
content and found the average silicon content ranged from 6.4 to 56.5
milligrams per liter (mg/L).
There is no recommended daily intake for silicon. But researchers say based
on the average daily intake of 20-50 milligrams, 2 liters of beer, on average,
would be required to satisfy that requirement. In some cases, 1 liter of beer
may be enough.
Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in
silicon, researcher Charles Bamforth, PhD, DSc, of the department of food
science and technology at the University of California, Davis, says in a news
release. “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 results showed the India Pale Ale category of beers tends to have more
silicon because they are traditionally a stronger and "hoppier" beer containing
more silicon-rich malt and hops.
"By contrast, wheat-based beers contain less silicon, which seems to be
related to the lower levels of silicon in wheat malt," write the researchers in
the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. "Additionally, wheat
beers are produced with much less hops than many other beer styles."
Light lager-style beers were also lower in silicon, likely because of their
use of corn during the brewing process, note the researchers.
In comparison, other sources of silicon in the diet include granola cereal,
high-fiber wheat bran cereal, oatmeal, and dried dates.
SOURCES:Casey, T. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, published
online Feb. 8, 2010.News release, PhysicalScience News.
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