Self Care Pharmacy Blog

Posts Tagged ‘osteoporosis’


Caffeine intake & bone density..what’s the scoop?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

By Morgan Bailey, PharmD Student Cedarville University School of Pharmacy

In college and even in the workplace, caffeine has consumed our lives. Our generation turns to caffeine to give us the burst of energy that we need to make it through the day. According to, almost 90% of people in the world consume at least one beverage with caffeine in it daily.1 These beverages would include coffee, energy drinks and soda or pop. Caffeine is considered to be a stimulant to the body, which is why whenever you drink a lot of caffeine you tend to feel more energized and awake. Even though we may get a great feeling from these drinks, are they really being beneficial to our bodies? Recent evidence debates whether consuming large amounts of caffeine can increase your risk for osteoporosis.

Image courtesy of samuiblue at

Image courtesy of samuiblue at

Osteoporosis is condition where your bones become brittle and can make you become more at risk of breaking or fracturing your bones. Research on this topic leads some to believe that the caffeine stops the absorption of calcium in the bones, therefore causing them to become thin. Studies have also shown that caffeine acts on the bone promoting an increase of calcium excretion, inhibition of osteoblast proliferation and delay in tissue repair process, raising the risk of fractures, osteoporosis, periodontal disease and affecting the success of bone reconstructive procedures.2, 3

In 2015, The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study looking at the influence of dietary patterns on bone mineral density and osteoporosis. This was a cross-sectional study that looked at Brazilian women aged 45 and over. The five categories retained were; “healthy”, red meats and refined cereals”, “low-fat dairy”, “sweet foods, coffee and teas”, and “western”. After analyzing that data that they received, they found that excessive sweet foods and caffeinated beverages appeared to have a negative affect on the bone mineral density. Although the study did find a negative effect on the bone density, they could not make a direct link to increased risk of osteoporosis. This was also a cross-sectional study, which was only looking at a specific time period; other results may have been revealed with a longer follow up study.4 In addition, recall bias may have affected the results due to patients self-reporting diet. There was also not any specific type of caffeine separated out (ie is there a difference between coffee, tea, or soda).

Similar findings were found in a 2006 study that found women with high coffee consumption, more than four cups a day, had an increase risk of bone fractures.5 On the other hand, a 2012 systemic review of multiple trials, concluded coffee intake did not increase risk of bone fractures, however suggested more research is needed.6 In 2013, a study was conducted on the long-term effects of coffee consumption and how that relates to the risk of bone fractures. The researchers found that there was no increased risk when the women drank low amounts of coffee, but when they drank more than four cups per day then they found that there could be a reduction in density of the bones.7 This cannot be directly linked to osteoporosis, but is considered a possible risk factor.

While it is not completely clear whether or not caffeine intake (or which type of caffeine) can increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures, there is a lot of promising research being done to answer these questions. It appears there is a trend that over 4 cups a day may be an issue. If you are someone that drinks a lot of caffeine throughout the day, you could discuss supplementing with calcium and/or vitamin D and also consider limiting the amount of caffeine that you consume in a day and increase exercise.8, 9

Even though you may not be seeing the results of your caffeine intake now, would you still drink the same amount of caffeine if you knew that it could potentially hurt you in the future?


  1. 25 Shocking Caffeine Addition Statistics. HRF website. August 30, 2014. Accessed October 20, 2015.
  2. Hallstrom H. Coffee consumption in relation to osteoporosis and fractures: Observational studies in men and women. DiVA. 2013.
  3. Vanin, Carla, Harter ,Danielle, Ribeiro RV,Pinto, Kato ,Sergio, Dibi R,Papandreus, Stein ,Airton. Effects of caffeine intake on bone tissue in an animal model of osteoporosis. 2015. 10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.02.185
  4. De Franca N.A.G., Camargo M.B.R., Lazaretti-Castro M., Peters B.S.E., Martini L.A. Dietary patterns and bone mineral density in brazilian postmenopausal women with osteoporosis: A cross-sectional study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015; doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.27. [Epub ahead of print]
  5. Hallstrom H, Wolk A, Glynn A, Michaelsson K. Coffee, tea and caffeine consumption in relation to osteoporotic fracture risk in a cohort of swedish women. Osteoporos Int. 2006; 17(7):1055-1064.
  6. Huifang L, Ke Y, Wenjie Z, Jun Z, Taixiang W, Chengqi H. Systematic review/Meta-analysis
coffee consumption and risk of fractures: A meta-analysis. Arch Med Sci. 2012;8(5).
  7. Hallstrom H, Byberg L, Glynn A, Lemming EW, Wolk A, Michaelsson K. Long-term coffee consumption in relation to fracture risk and bone mineral density in women. Am J Epidemiol. 2013; 178(6):898-909.
  8. Sanders S, Geraci SA. Osteoporosis in postmenopausal women: Considerations in prevention and treatment: (women’s health series). South Med J. 2013; 106(12): 698-706.
  9. Suzanne Sanders, M.D., Stephen A. Geraci, M.D. Osteoporosis in postmenopausal women: Considerations in prevention and treatment (women’s health series).

The Truth about Calcium That May Leave Supplement Companies in Pandemonium

Monday, November 9th, 2015

By: Caleb Tang

Calcium is an essential mineral and contributor to bone health that helps keep bones strong. In fact, 99% of the body’s calcium is found in bon
e.1 The human body is continually removing calcium from bone so that it can be used to aid in blood clots, muscle movement, and nerve messaging. Dietary calcium actually replenishes these losses and prevents bones from becoming weak. So why wouldn’t increasing the amount of calcium intake positively affect bone health? Imagine that your car is low on gas. Wouldn’t it obviously make sense to go to the nearest gas station and fill up your tank? In the case of bone health, the answer is not that cut and dry. Yes, calcium is an important factor, but increasing intake alone will not directly improve bone health.7

800px-500_mg_calcium_supplements_with_vitamin_DJust three weeks ago, the New York Times published an article titled, “Calcium Doesn’t Improve Bone Density, Analysis Finds”. This surprising claim was made by Nicholas Bakalar of the New York Times. He based his claim on two articles published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) just this summer. The results from articles review made a bold claim that completely defies common household knowledge.  Aside from the fact that the two BMJ articles came to the same conclusion, the two were eerily related. Both were published on the same day (September 29, 2015) and both were associated with the University of Auckland and the University of Otago in New Zealand.

It seems illogical that increasing consumption of a crucial mineral for bone strength would not actually improve bone strength. The apparent paradox lies within biology and culture.9 It is important to realize that one simple dietary change will not affect bone strength. Consuming more calcium means nothing if the body doesn’t absorb it.1,6 Vitamin D increases calcium absorption from the small intestine, into the bloodstream, and finally to the bones. Other factors that positively affect bone health are as follows: weight-bearing exercise, tobacco avoidance, moderate alcohol intake.1

The effectiveness of calcium supplementation on bone mineral density varies according to two factors:  dietary calcium intake and stage of life.8,9 Compared to Western cultures, Asian cultures do not commonly incorporate high-calcium level foods (such as milk, cheese and other dairy products) into the everyday diet.10-12 A study in elderly Thai women found that calcium supplementation of at least 500mg/day for 2 years resulted in noticeable changes in BMD (bone marrow density) at several skeletal study points. The study’s conclusion was this: “Calcium supplementation might be crucial in people who have low calcium intake at baseline”.9 In cases like these, supplementation may be needed, but the first choice is to consume calcium from foods.8

Another important factor that plays a role in the effectiveness of calcium supplementation is the stage in life of the patient, especially if that patient is a woman. Elderly postmenopausal women experience loss of “beneficial effects of estrogen on the stimulation of intestinal calcium absorption and reduction of renal calcium excretion as well as an increase in bone turnover rate.”9 In this case, vitamin D calcium supplementation would actually help to prevent early postmenopausal bone loss.6,9

The human body surely requires at least some calcium, but currently, there is no reliable method to determine an optimal amount of daily calcium intake based on criteria such as age, gender, height, and weight.4 Even in a study where the mean calcium intake was well above the daily recommended amount (1,200mg/day), hip fractures were still evident.4 This seemingly counterintuitive finding begs that further studies explain why meeting or even exceeding a healthy limit will produce a high incidence of hip fractures.

In light of these recent scientific findings, one shouldn’t rely on calcium supplements to prevent BMD complications. Furthermore, patients who currently have osteoporosis or a high risk of fracture should never replace prescription medication with calcium supplementation. Until further evidence surfaces, people of all ages hoping to prevent later development of osteoporosis should continue to strive for a balanced diet containing adequate protein, fruits, vegetables, calcium, and vitamin D.8 Would you still consider taking a calcium supplement for the insignificant increase in bone strength it provides?


  1. National Osteoporosis Foundation. Clinician’s guide to prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Washington, DC: National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2010;1–56.
  2. Bolland MJ, Leung W, Tai V, et al. Calcium intake and risk of fracture: Systematic review.BMJ. 2015;351. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h4580.
  3. Tai V, Leung W, Grey A, Reid IR, Bolland MJ. Calcium intake and bone mineral density: Systematic review and meta-analysis.BMJ. 2015;351. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h4183.
  4. Cho K, Cederholm T, Lökk J. Calcium intake in elderly patients with hip fractures.Food & Nutrition Research. 2008;52:1-5.
  5. Cosman F, de Beur ,S.J., LeBoff MS, et al. Clinician’s guide to prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.Osteoporos Int. 2014;25(10):2359-2381.
  6. Kärkkäinen M, Tuppurainen M, Salovaara K, et al. Effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on bone mineral density in women aged 65-71 years: A 3-year randomized population-based trial (OSTPRE-FPS).Osteoporos Int. 2010;21(12):2047-2055.
  7. Kling, Juliana M.Clarke, Bart L.Sandhu,Nicole P. Osteoporosis prevention, screening, and treatment: A review.Journal of Women’s Health (15409996). 2014;23(7):563-572.
  8. Nieves JW. Skeletal effects of nutrients and nutraceuticals, beyond calcium and vitamin D.Osteoporos Int. 2013;24(3):771-786.
  9. Rajatanavin R, Chailurkit L, Saetung S, Thakkinstian A, Nimitphong H. The efficacy of calcium supplementation alone in elderly thai women over a 2-year period: A randomized controlled trial.Osteoporosis Int. 2013;24(11):2871.
  10. Kim HS, Kim JS, Kim NS, Kim JH, Lee BK (2007) Association of vitamin D receptor polymorphism with calcaneal broadband ultrasound attenuation in Korean postmenopausal women with low calcium intake. Br J Nutr 98:878–881
  11. Lau EM, Woo J, Lam V, Hong A (2001) Milk supplementation of the diet of postmenopausal Chinese women on a low calcium intake retards bone loss. J Bone Miner Res 16:1704–1709
  12. 12. Chee WS, Suriah AR, Zaitun Y, Chan SP, Yap SL, Chan YM (2002) Dietary calcium intake in postmenopausal Malaysian women: comparison between the food frequency questionnaire and three-day food records. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 11:142–146