Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
A new study suggests that beer is a significant source
of dietary silicon, a key ingredient for increasing bone
Researchers from the Department of Food Science & Technology
at the University of California, Davis studied commercial beer
production to determine the relationship between beer production
methods and the resulting silicon content, concluding that beer is
a rich source of dietary silicon.
Details of this study are available in the February issue of the
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, published by
Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Society of Chemical Industry.
The study examined a wide range of beer styles for their silicon
content and have also studied the impact of raw materials and the
brewing process on the quantities of silicon that enter wort and beer.
Silicon is present in beer in the soluble form of orthosilicic acid
(OSA), which yields 50% bioavailability, making beer a major
contributor to silicon intake in the Western diet. According to the
National Institutes of Health (NIH), dietary silicon (Si), as soluble
OSA, may be important for the growth and development of bone
and connective tissue, and beer appears to be a major contributor
to silicon intake. Based on these findings, some studies suggest
moderate beer consumption may help fight osteoporosis, a
disease of the skeletal system characterized by low bone mass
and deterioration of bone tissue.
The researchers examined a variety of raw material samples and
found little change in the silicon content of barley during the malting
process. The majority of the silicon in barley is in the husk, which is
not affected greatly during malting. The malts with the higher silicon
contents are pale colored which have less heat stress during the
malting process. The darker products, such as the chocolate,
roasted barley and black malt, all have substantial roasting and
much lower silicon contents than the other malts for reasons that are
not yet known. The hop samples analyzed showed surprisingly high
levels of silicon with as much as four times more silicon than is
found in malt. However, hops are invariably used in a much smaller
quantity than is grain. Highly hopped beers, however, would be
expected to contain higher silicon levels.
The study also tested 100 commercial beers for silicon content
and categorized the data according to beer style and source.
The average silicon content of the beers sampled was 6.4 to
56.5 mg per liter.
“Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest
in silicon,” concludes the study. “Wheat contains less silicon than
barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element.
While most of the silicon remains in the husk during brewing,
significant quantities of silicon nonetheless survives into the beer.”