Your tea addiction may actually be strengthening your bones
People drink tea for many reasons. Sometimes you need a caffeine boost, an appetite suppressor, or a reminder of being British.
A new study offers yet another compelling reason: bone health.
Tea consumption correlates to higher bone mineral density (BMD) in women, and especially premenopausal women, a new report accepted for publication in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found. (BMD is a measure of calcium and other minerals in bones, and is a common measure of bone health, an indicator of osteoporosis, and a gauge for the risk of a bone fracture.)
The researchers reviewed epidemiological studies from all over the world, finding a correlation between tea consumption and higher BMD in postmenopausal women in Canada and England, as well as women in Taiwan, Iran, Japan, and Australia. The study in England, for example, found that the postmenopausal women consuming tea had approximately 5% higher BMD at all three bone sites measured than those who were not tea drinkers. It also found that there was no difference in BMD rates for those who consumed one to three cups versus four or more cups each day, and that adding milk to the tea did not change the correlation.
Men, however, often did not see the same results. In the Iranian study, which also included men, and a Greek study of older men, tea consumption was not associated with higher BMD.
The authors’ hypothesis is that tea’s bone-building characteristics come from its compounds found in plants called flavonoids. Some flavonoids mimic estrogen, a key component in good bone health whose natural production drops during menopause. Flavonoids, therefore, might fill in for estrogen, performing roles like inhibiting osteoclasts, the cells that break down bones and can contribute to osteoporosis.