BMD and tea consumption




Archives of Internal Medicine

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Green tea has long been used in much of the world as a popular beverage and a respected medicinal agent. Early Chinese medical literature lists green tea as an agent to promote digestion, improve mental faculties, decrease flatulence and regulate body temperature. The earliest known record of use dates back to around 2700 B.C. Today, ceremonies, celebrations, relaxation time and ordinary meals usually consist of tea in most parts of the world, except where coffee has become the more popular beverage, like the United States. A recent study investigated the potential role of tea in the increase of bone density.

Throughout life, bone is constantly rebuilding itself. Bone serves as a storehouse for minerals, chiefly calcium, which can be tapped to meet the body's mineral requirements. Bone is broken down through a process called "resorption," releasing its minerals into the general circulation. New bone is then formed to replace the reabsorbed bone, preventing a net loss of bone. This is called bone "remodeling." As we age, however, bone formation begins to fall behind.

This study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, involved 497 men and 540 women, all of whom were 30 years and older. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by means of x-rays and all participants completed a questionnaire regarding tea consumption and lifestyle characteristics. The results showed that 502 individuals were habitual tea drinkers for 10 years or more. Compared to non-habitual tea drinkers, tea drinkers had a higher lumbar spine BMD. The duration of tea intake was inversely associated with low bone mineral density. The authors concluded that, "Habitual tea consumption, especially for more than 10 years, has significant beneficial effects on BMD of the total body, lumbar spine, and hip regions in adults."1


1. Wu CH, et al. Epidemiological Evidence of Increased Bone Mineral Density in Habitual Tea Drinkers. Arch Intern Med. May 2002;162:1001-1006.