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Do You Need To Worry About How Caffeine And Osteoporosis Are Related?

Caffeine and osteoporosis are often thought of together. Most experts recommend that we limit our caffeine to 300-400 mg a day.

This intake is approximately 3 cups (not mugs) of coffee daily. But coffee is rarely served in 8-ounce cups and not all coffee is created equal.

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 1 in 3 women over age 50 and 1 in 2 over age 60 will suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis.

Men suffer at a reduced rate of 1 in 5 over age 50... and 1 in 3 over age 60 will experience a fracture.

Calcium absorption into the bones is essential for healthy bone renewal, but studies have shown that caffeine increases calcium excretion from the body. Does that mean that excessive caffeine can cause osteoporosis?

Research has been inconclusive in creating a direct link between caffeine and osteoporosis, perhaps because it is only one of many risk factors associated with brittle bones.

If you already have osteoporosis – or there is a strong history of osteoporosis or bone fractures in your family – it is best to reduce caffeine consumption as much as possible to prevent unnecessary bone loss.

When assessing whether caffeine and osteoporosis might be a problem, it is important to see how much caffeine is currently in your diet.

North Americans Love Their Coffee!

Canadians have become the largest consumers of coffee in North America. Almost two-thirds of Canadians report that they drink coffee every day... and on average, 4.5 cups a day.

In the United States, over 50% of adult Americans drink coffee every day and the average is 3.1 cups of coffee daily.

Experts advise us to limit our coffee to 3 cups (not mugs) a day. But coffee rarely arrives in 8 ounce (237ml) cups these days and all coffee is not created equal.

The popular 20-ounce jumbo cups at Starbucks or Second Cup will deliver almost the maximum dose in a single serving.

There is also a significant difference in the caffeine content of various forms of coffee-which is a concern for those interested in caffeine and osteoporosis. So how do the coffee shops compare?

  • The lowest amounts of caffeine are found in the brands from JAVA Stop and Country Time.
  • There is approximately 25% more caffeine in coffee from Timothy's and Tim Hortons
  • Starbucks and Second Cup have almost double the levels of caffeine in their coffee compared to the lowest levels.

Here is an example of the range of caffeine in a cup of coffee, as reported by the coffee shops themselves.

  • Starbucks Grande: (16 oz): 320 mg
  • Einstein Bros. regular coffee (16 oz.): 300 mg
  • Dunkin' Donuts regular coffee (16 oz.): 206 mg
  • Tim Hortons medium coffee (14 oz): 140 mg
  • Tim Hortons medium Icecap: 150 mg

Caffeine and osteoporosis is less of a concern for those who restrict themselves to a single latte or espresso.

  • Starbucks Vanilla Latte (Grande 16 oz): 150 mg
  • Starbucks Espresso (Solo 1 oz.): 75 mg

Decaffeinated coffee is an even better choice for those concerned about caffeine and osteoporosis. It is not just a better choice. It is a GREAT choice.

  • Starbucks Decaffeinated (Grande 16 oz): 16 mg.
  • Tim Hortons Decaffeinated (medium 14 oz): 6 mg.
  • Coffee, generic decaffeinated (16 oz.): 10 mg

Surprisingly, drinking regular instant coffee doesn't reduce caffeine significantly. A 16-ounce mug of generic instant coffee averages 180 mg of caffeine which is comparable to a medium coffee at Tim Hortons.

Tea, on the other hand is a great choice. A medium black tea contains approximately 50 mg of caffeine, while a chai tea or green tea contains only 20-25 mg of caffeine.

So what should people concerned about caffeine and osteoporosis do to protect their bones?

Decaffeinated coffee is the perfect choice for those who just can't give up their java. And treating yourself to a latte will also help to reduce your caffeine at Starbucks... although a large mug of chai or green tea would be even better.

It is also important to assess the total amount of caffeine you are consuming. If you are drinking soft drinks or energy drinks (which are laced with caffeine) you are consuming a lot more caffeine than you are getting through your coffee.

The consumption of soft drinks and energy drinks by teenagers is of particular concern because their bones are growing rapidly during this period and they are creating the foundation that must carry them through the rest of their lives.

So can we still have our java if we are at risk for osteoporosis? It is better to order a Decaf... just to be on the safe side.