Drinking Tea Can Improve Your Bone Health

Drinking Tea Can Improve Your Bone Health
  • A new study suggests that drinking certain kinds of tea may be linked to positive bone health outcomes.
  • Drinking tea isn’t enough to protect your bones as you age, so it’s important to think about other dietary and lifestyle changes that promote healthy bones.

Since your bones support and protect organs, anchor muscles, and store calcium, finding proactive ways to keep them strong as you get older is necessary for a long, healthy life.

Eating plenty of calcium-rich foods and participating in impact exercise (like jumping) are the usual recommendations for bone health, as well as avoiding caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee. But if you’re a tea lover who also wants strong bones, new data published in Frontiers in Nutrition may offer some reassurance.

Tea: Bad for the Bones?

While some research has found that caffeine consumption may not be your body’s best friend when it comes to bone health, evidence suggests the benefits of other bioactive compounds in tea outweigh any cons of its caffeine content.2 Observational studies have shown that tea consumption does not contribute to calcium loss or reduced bone density.

Researchers think the anti-inflammatory benefits that tea drinkers get from the beverage may have something to do with its positive bone health-supporting effects.

Some studies have suggested that for post-menopausal women, the plant compounds found in true tea, like green tea, may have estrogen-like activities, which can help the body maintain bone health after the natural reduction in bone-supporting estrogen that happens during this life stage.

For example, a study from 2022 that included 3,530 postmenopausal women found that participants who consumed 1–3 cups of green tea daily had significantly lower rates of osteopenia (weakened bones) and osteoporosis (decreased bone mass) compared to people who either did not consume green tea or consumed less than one cup daily.

ALSO READ  What to Know About Bone Pain

Testing Tea’s Bone-Boosting Benefits

Most research on tea consumption linked to positive bone health effects has largely been based on observational data, making it hard to prove there’s a cause-and-effect relationship.

To change the perspective on studying tea and bone health, researchers in China explored the potential link without leaning on observational data. Instead, they performed Mendelian randomization analyses, which meant they used genetic variations to help them draw conclusions and control for variables that could affect the results.

How Mendelian Randomization Works

Everyone has slight differences in the DNA sequence or genetic variations. These differences are linked to our different traits or characteristics, such as eye color, blood type, or increased chances of getting certain diseases.

Mendelian randomization is like a natural experiment scientists use to figure out if one thing (like a certain gene variation) actually causes a health outcome (such as a higher risk of a specific disease) without the confusion of other factors that could affect the results.

What’s key about these studies is that the researchers can think about genes being assigned randomly at birth, like a randomized controlled trial. From there, they can look at whether a gene is linked to both an exposure and outcome and feel more confident that the relationship is cause-and-effect.

Ultimately, researchers were looking to see how total body bone mineral density did or did not improve based on tea consumption.1 Healthy bone mineral density is crucial because it is a marker of bone strength and overall bone health. High bone density may reduce the risk of fractures, especially in older adults, for whom even minor falls can lead to serious injuries.

The results showed that individuals with a genetic inclination toward drinking more tea also had a higher likelihood of increased total bone mineral density. (Yes, there are variations in DNA sequences associated with liking tea.) This was most notable among the participants who were between the ages of 45 and 60 years old.

ALSO READ  Top 10 Healthiest Teas to Drink Every Day.

The researchers said that their study debunked the misconception that drinking tea leads to osteoporosis, suggesting instead that tea can actually improve bone density. But right now, they can only infer this may be the case among people inclined to drink tea to begin with. In subgroup analyses, the researchers did not find a causal relationship between bone density and specific teas themselves, including green tea and herbal tea.

“While this study shows promising results for the benefits of drinking tea on bone mass, it was conducted solely on the European population,” Melissa Mitri, RDN, a Connecticut-based dietitian writer who is unaffiliated with the study, told Verywell. “More research is needed to confirm if these same benefits would apply to the global population.”

Alyssa Smolen, RDN, a New Jersey-based dietitian, said she is not surprised by the results.

“To the general public, drinking tea is considered a healthy behavior and normally poses no threats to one’s health,” she told Verywell. “The results only confirm the health benefit of drinking tea, especially to an older population.”

Other Ways to Support Bone Health

Tea alone is not enough to give you strong bones. You also need to take other steps to support bone health as you age.

Eat More Prunes

Research has shown that eating around 50 grams of prunes every day (that’s around 4-6 prunes) may help preserve hip bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Researchers think that this effect could be because of prunes’ anti-inflammatory effects, phenolic compounds, and bone health-supporting micronutrients.

Do Impact Exercise

High-impact exercises, such as running, jumping rope, or plyometrics, are particularly beneficial for bone health. These activities create stress on the bones (which is a positive thing!), stimulating the bone-forming cells to increase bone density over time. This process helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures, making high-impact exercises an essential component of a well-rounded fitness routine.6

ALSO READ  Top 10 Healthiest Teas to Drink Every Day.

Don’t Forget the Milk

Milk is widely recognized for its vital role in bone health, mostly because of its rich calcium and vitamin D content. These nutrients are essential for building and maintaining strong bones, which helps prevent diseases like osteoporosis. The protein in milk also contributes to bone strength, making it a key dietary player for supporting skeletal health.

Some data suggests that the lactose in dairy milk may enhance calcium absorption. If you are not a dairy milk drinker, choose milk alternatives that have bone health-supporting nutrients like vitamin D added to them.

Limit Alcohol and Avoid Cigarette Smoking

Limiting alcohol and avoiding cigarette smoking also support strong bone health. Excessive alcohol intake can interfere with the balance of calcium in the body, which is essential for bone density, while smoking has been shown to reduce blood flow to the bones, which can affect the delivery of essential nutrients to the skeletal structures. Together, these lifestyle choices not only weaken the skeletal structure but also slow down the healing process after fractures.

What This Means for You

While drinking true tea isn’t enough to keep your bones healthy, you may not need to totally avoid it if you want to keep your bones strong as you age. Incorporating calcium and vitamin D-rich foods in your diet, doing impact exercise, and avoiding smoking and alcohol can also protect your bone health.


Most read