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Beer for the Bones?

Beneficial silicon content varies from brew to brew, study finds

MONDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Beer may help keep bones strong because it's a rich source of dietary silicon, which contributes to bone mineral density, a new study reports.

But the amount of silicon apparently varies by the type of beer.

"The factors in brewing that influence silicon levels in beer have not been extensively studied," study author Charles Bamforth, a professor in the food science and technology department at the University of California, Davis, said in a news release from the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. The study is published in the journal's February issue.

"We have examined a wide range of beer styles for their silicon content and have also studied the impact of raw materials and the brewing process on the quantities of silicon that enter wort and beer," Bamforth said. Wort is liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer.

The researchers tested 100 commercial beers and found that their silicon content ranged from 6.4 to 56.5 milligrams per liter.

"Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon," Bamforth said. "Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element. While most of the silicon remains in the husk during brewing, significant quantities of silicon nonetheless are extracted into wort, and much of this survives into beer."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about bone health.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, news release, Feb. 7, 2010

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