Coffee is known for its positive health benefits but may interact with the mineral calcium. Calcium is vital for bone health. Moderate coffee intake will not harm younger adults but can put elderly women at a higher risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. Coffee causes interactions with calcium by potentially decreasing the body's ability to absorb calcium.
Calcium plays an important role in bone health. Calcium is a mineral that cannot be produced by the body and must be ingested and absorbed. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 99 percent of the calcium in your body is found in bones and teeth. Calcium helps the body increase bone density and strength. Calcium can help offset the early effects of osteoporosis. The National Institute of Health cites calcium as necessary for muscle contraction, blood-vessel contraction, blood clotting and the releasing of hormones.
Coffee is a beverage made by grinding coffee beans and brewing them with water. Coffee beans naturally contains caffeine. Caffeine is a drug that may prevent the body from absorbing calcium. When caffeine is in the body calcium is more readily excreted. Nutrition.com recommends avoiding coffee and other caffeinated beverages 30 minutes before eating or drinking calcium. It also recommends avoiding caffeine up to 30 minutes after taking a calcium supplement. It is estimated that for every 150 mg of caffeine, five milligrams of calcium are excreted in the urine. The National Institute of Health equates one cup of coffee to a two to three milligrams of calcium loss.
Calcium is naturally excreted from the body. Calcium is lost through hair skin, and fingernails. It is also lost in bodily fluids such as sweat, urine and feces. When caffeine is present in the blood stream, the body will excrete more calcium. If your diet does not include enough calcium, your body will start taking calcium from your teeth and bones.
Young men and women get enough calcium in their diet to offset any negative effects set forth by the coffee/calcium interaction. Older adults, especially women may need to modify their caffeine intake. Regular coffee drinkers may try to offset calcium loss by adding milk or extra calcium to your diet. The calcium loss occurs in the GI tract where it has a decreased absorption rate. If you consume any foods or drinks that may interfere with calcium absorption, you may want to take your calcium supplements at a different time of day.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, men and women 50 and under should take 1,000 mg of calcium while adults over 50 should increase their daily intake to 1,200 mg. Adults ingesting the recommended milligrams of calcium usually do not have problems with calcium deficiency. However, supplementing a cup of coffee with milk will increase calcium absorption. Soy milk is not as effective and may not be fortified with calcium.