Coffee: What's the Scoop on Bone Health

Seems like everyday there’s a news item about coffee and your health. Coffee is rich in antioxidants, which have many overall health benefits. However, the latest research indicates that coffee is damaging to bones because it causes calcium loss.

What we know is that 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day is healthier than no coffee at all, but more than 3 cups tends to replace dairy intake – and that loss of dairy is bad for bones. Calcium loss can result in decreased bone mineral density and is a risk factor for developing osteoporosis.

That’s 2 or 3 standard sized cups (18 oz.) – not two oversized cups from coffee shop chains! That should be enough for general health.  More than 18 ounces is probably bad for bone health unless accompanied by extra calcium.

If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, make sure you have adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D from dairy and non-dairy foods, as well as a multivitamin with 500 mg of calcium, plus vitamin D and magnesium* for better absorption.  Vitamin D improves the absorption of calcium – which is why it is the most commonly recommended supplement pairing.

Most people do not know that silicon also assists with calcium absorption –so it’s important to supplement with more than calcium and vitamin D for complete bone health.

Caffeine causes the kidneys to lose calcium. Another complication - approximately one in six women have a genetic variation that causes greater bone loss when more than 18 ounces of regular coffee is consumed on a daily basis.

It is difficult to separate the effects of coffee from the effects of other lifestyle habits that are bad for bone health. Those who drink more than three cups of coffee a day tend to exercise less, smoke more cigarettes, consume less dairy, and consume fewer fruits and vegetables.

A recent study with more than 400,000 participants found that even with these lifestyle factors in play, moderate coffee consumption has life-extending benefits. The biggest difference is between those who consume no coffee and those who consume 2-3 cups a day. But more than 3 cups a day has very little added benefit.

De-caffeinated coffee also has the same life extending benefits as regular coffee according to the New England Journal of Medicine, minus most of the caffeine.  If you insist on a 4th or 5th cup of coffee try decaf.

So, some coffee is good for you, but as the saying goes - “too much of a good thing…..”.  Drink coffee in moderation and support your bones with a healthy diet and a supplement to complete your nutritional needs for healthy bones.

*Adequate calcium and vitamin D, throughout life, as part of a well-balanced diet, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

3 thoughts on “Coffee: What's the Scoop on Bone Health”

  • Kay

    Drinking or eating more then your capacity is always harmful for human body, this is myth about coffee that it effects our bones in negative manner, yes it can happen if we will drink it above our capacity.

  • Institute for Better Bone Health

    We agree - coffee should be consumed in moderation. That is true of diet as well. Maintaining a balanced diet that is rich in diverse nutrients is also essential for bone health. It is no myth, though, that consuming more than 18 ounces of coffee per day has negative effects on bone health. The May 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reports further evidence. Here’s a link for your convenience, Kay :

  • […] calcium from getting into the body from foods. Sound familiar? It’s similar to how too much coffee causes calcium loss that is bad for […]

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