New research by researchers at the University of South Australia suggests that excess caffeine may be linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis .
Investigating the effects of coffee on how the kidneys regulate calcium in the body, the researchers found that high doses of caffeine (800 mg) consumed over a six-hour period nearly doubled the amount of calcium lost in urine. The average daily caffeine intake is about 200mg, about two cups of coffee.
Risks in energy drinks
The double-blind clinical study examined participants while chewing caffeine or a placebo gum for five minutes at two-hour intervals during a six-hour treatment period (total caffeine 800 mg). While the main objective of the research was to examine the impact of caffeine consumption on wakefulness and other factors, this substudy aimed to assess the impact of caffeine consumption on renal calcium clearance . We are thus facing the first study to report the impact of high-dose, short-term caffeine intake on renal clearance of calcium, sodium, and creatinine in healthy adults.
According to Hayley Schultz of UniSA: "Our research found that people who consume 800 mg of caffeine during a normal workday will have a 77 percent increase in calcium in their urine, creating a potential deficiency that could affect their bones."
Osteoporosis is a chronic, painful, and debilitating disease that makes bones less dense and more susceptible to fractures. More common in women, it occurs when the bones lose calcium and other minerals faster than the body can replace them:
People at risk could include teens who consume energy drinks to excess because their bones are still developing; professional athletes who use caffeine to improve performance; as well as postmenopausal women who often have low levels of calcium in the blood due to hormonal changes and lack of a sufficient daily intake of calcium in the diet. Increasingly, we also see high levels of caffeine among shift workers who need to remain alert during night hours, as well as among the military who use caffeine to combat lack of sleep in operational settings. Caffeine in moderation certainly has its benefits. But it’s important to understand how binge drinking could increase your risks for a highly preventable disease like osteoporosis.