Alcohol and bone health!

I’m not one to preach – many people, including myself enjoy the odd tipple, but there is evidence that drinking too much alcohol can have adverse health effects.

One of the ways alcohols can cause problems is by negatively influencing your bone health and increasing the risk of osteoporosis!

Bone is a living tissue that continues to undergo change and replacement, even after you have reached full maturity.  Long-term alcohol consumption can interfere with bone growth and replacement, resulting in decreased bone density and increased risk of fractures.

There is a growing amount of evidence to suggest that drinking in excess can lead to weakened bones later in life and a whopping 3 million people in the UK are living with osteoporosis.

3 ways alcohol can affect the body: –

  1. Alcohol interferes with the way the body uses calcium and vitamin D.

Calcium is an essential nutrient for healthy bones, and people need vitamin D for their bones to absorb calcium.

  1. Alcohol can cause hormone deficiencies.

Females may experience decreased levels of the hormone oestrogen, which can lead to bone loss.  Males may produce less testosterone, a hormone linked to helping bones form.

  1. Alcohol can cause people to fall more frequently.

When under the influence of alcohol, people can fall more easily increasing their risk of a bone fracture.

Consumption levels

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the Substance abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) define the categories of alcohol consumption habits as follows:

  • Moderate drinking indicates two drinks per day or fewer for men and one drink a day or fewer for women.
  • Binge drinking is a pattern that raises blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher. For many adults this is five or more drinks for men and four or more for women within a two-hour period
  • Heavy drinking generally means more than four drinks per day, or 14 drinks per week for men and more than three drinks per day, or seven drinks per week for women. This may also mean binge drinking for five or more days within a month.

How can I improve my bone health?

  • Stop drinking, if going “cold turkey” is too much of a challenge try to reduce the amount you drink!
  • Make sure your diet includes a variety of bone health promoting nutrients such as: –
    • Vitamin D
    • Calcium
    • Vitamin K

They are found in foods such as dairy products, leafy greens, fortified foods, mushrooms, and soy products.

  • Your body produces Vitamin D when exposed to regular direct sunlight, so soak up those rays, but do so safely.
  • Make sure you get plenty of weight-bearing exercise, this includes activities like playing sport, running and strength training.
  • If you smoke, stop! There is research to show that people who smoke have a higher risk of osteoporosis.

A final note…….

The relationship between drinking and osteoporosis, is of course dose dependent.  To support your bone health, avoid drinking more than 2 drinks a day, and if you are a woman, you may even want to limit your consumption to one tipple because of the effect alcohol has on oestrogen.  Drinking any more than this will put you at a much greater risk of weakened bones.

The type of alcoholic drink could also make a difference.  Generally speaking, wine and beer are believed to affect bone health less than hard alcohol.

Wine has a rich phytochemical content, in particular, resveratrol, beer on the other hand, has a high silicon content – a mineral found in bones.

In addition to cutting back and limiting your consumption of spirits, try to use smaller glasses for your drinks, your bones and liver will thank you for it!

If you would like some further information or to speak to a member of our team please call us on: Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687, alternatively e-mail us at: or [email address=””