When you have a broken bone, the faster your healing time, the sooner you can get back to your activities of daily living without a cast or brace. To heal properly, your body needs time and the right mix of nutrients to generate healthy and strong bone cells. If you regularly enjoy a beer or more as part of your diet, you might wonder if it will affect your body's ability to heal. While beer can have potentially beneficial effects when consumed in moderation, overconsumption can have potentially damaging effects.
Beer and Silicon
One of the potential benefits of drinking beer and healing bones is that beer contains silicon, a mineral needed to build new bone mass and other connective tissue. Beer contains orthosilicic acid, which is a form of silicon, but not all beers contain the same levels. For example, beers produced from barley have more silicon than those from hops. Pale beers have higher amounts of silicon because they receive less-damaging heat than darker beers. While beers do contain high amounts of silicon, a definitive link between enhanced bone health and drinking beer related to silicon has not been established.
Heavy Drinking and Bone Growth
Chronic and heavy consumption of alcohol is associated with reduced ability to heal bone, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Because moderate alcohol consumption is considered one to two drinks per day for women and two drinks per day for men, consuming more than this amount most days of the week can constitute heavy drinking. Alcohol, including beer, appears to affect the body's ability to produce new bone cells called osteoblasts. Since your body must build osteoblasts after a broken bone, you might experience slow bone healing if you are a chronic beer drinker.
Alcohol and Ossification
Beer and other alcohol products also might interfere with the production of ossifiable matrix, a basic group of bone cells that harden following a bone fracture. Alcohol affects the bone matrix production by interfering with signals from your injured bone to the brain to signal the need to build new bone cells. The more alcohol consumed, the more affected the ossifiable matrix can be.
Always talk to your physician about your beer consumption and an appropriate level of consumption following a bone breakage. In addition to the effect of alcohol in terms of healing, also consider that alcohol can impair your judgment time, thus making it easier to trip and/or fall, which could reinjure your broken bone. If you have trouble giving up daily and/or excessive beer consumption, talk to your physician, who can recommend appropriate resources for help.
Is This an Emergency?
- University of Georgia; The University Health Center: Alcohol and Athletic Performance
- Alcohol in Moderation Digest: Good News for Beer Drinkers
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Alcohol and Other Factors Affecting Osteoporosis Risk in Women
- "Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research"; Alcohol-Induced Bone Loss and Deficient Bone Repair; Kirk Wilhelmsen, M.D., Ph.D. and Gary Swan, Ph.D.
- Fox 40: UC Davis: Silicon In Beer Good for Women's Bones