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Is Coffee Bad for Your Bones?

Coffee is loaded with polyphenol antioxidants and has been linked to a number of beneficial health effects, but does the caffeine in coffee cause bone degradation that can lead to an increased risk of fractures and falls? 

The Study

A New York Times Well article recently investigated this issue. The blog post cited a study on caffeine consumption from the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, which concluded that drinking coffee “is not associated with significant concern regarding the risk of fracture and fall.”

There is a caveat, however.

What the researchers found is that healthy individuals with adequate dietary and supplemental intake of calcium maintained bone health even when consuming a large amount of coffee. The study aimed to examine the impact of caffeine on a variety of health markers including bone mineral density, osteoporosis, risk of fracture and fall, and calcium homeostasis. Since dietary calcium is so crucial to the maintenance bone health, the researchers monitored this marker very carefully.

The Results

According to the project officer Alison Kretser, MS, RD, “when calcium levels in the body are adequate, caffeine does not cause adverse effects related to bone health. Our study found that there was no significant impact associated with intake of less than 400mg of caffeine (about 4 cups of coffee) per day on fracture and fall rates, bone mineral density and osteoporosis, or altered calcium homeostasis, particularly under conditions of adequate calcium intake.”

The study was focused on healthy adults, so more research will be needed to investigate the effect of caffeine on those who already have deteriorating bone health. The researchers advocate for less than 300 mg of daily caffeine-intake for pregnant women, and less than 2.5 mg for children and adolescents.


Kretser added that around 90 percent of American adults consume less than the threshold 400 mg of caffeine. In fact, most coffee drinkers only consume an average of about 165 mg per day.This means if you are already healthy, you can drink your daily cup - or 4 - of coffee, without worrying about the health of your bones!




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