I am sure most of you have read the recent headlines about beer containing silicon and may help prevent osteoporosis. But there were a few things the popular press left out. While it is true that silicon is associated with improved bone mineral density, the evidence for taking silicon to treat osteoporosis is a little weak. The were two studies that covered silicon and osteoporosis. The first study only had 8 subjects and was a retrospective study. Retrospective studies are sometimes plagued with flaws and biases because they rely on people's memory of past events. Another promising preliminary study did study orthosilicic acid supplementation in women. Orthosilicic acid is the form of silicon found in beer. It was good randomized-placebo controlled study, which makes the increases in bone density appear promising. However, further studies need to be done that show similar results (are these findings reproducible).
There was another study which reported that women who regularly drank beer had a greater bone density than those that did not. Sadly this only shows an association; other factors may have had an influence.
This was the other interesting part. The researchers found higher beer silicon levels in this study than in previous studies. Their reasoning was,
"This may be due to the more extensive sample set drawn from smaller independent breweries that tend to use higher proportions of malt..."
This was a bold move by the lead researcher Dr. Charles Bamforth to mention smaller breweries. After all he is an Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor.
Apparently, the researchers went to a local grocery store and bought 100 bottles of beer in the name of science. After they took them down and passed them around, it was found that IPA's contained the most silicon. This is because hops are quite rich in silicon. Wheat beer and light beers contained less silicon. The researchers also mentioned, "light lagers usually derive from high adjunct grists, such as corn, and it was found that light beers contained less silicon. "
So there you go. Only drink craft brewed IPA's. While there is some evidence that is may prevent osteoporosis, there is lots of proof that they taste better. This proof comes from my own clinical research done in my basement. This is also subject to much bias.
Other health articles
Tree Hefe and I get by..
Westmalle Tripel and the beer bottle headshot
Boozy Energy Drinks Make You Stupid