But wine does little to protect against the disease, the journal Nutrition reports.
It is thought that the high level of silicon in beer slows down the thinning that leads to fractures and boosts the formation of new bone.
Beer is also rich in phytoestrogens, plant versions of oestrogen, which keep bones healthy.
Bones are made up of a mesh of fibres, minerals, blood vessels and marrow, and healthy ones are denser with smaller spaces between the different parts.
The researchers asked almost 1,700 healthy women with an average age of 48 about their drinking habits.
They then underwent ultrasound scans, which showed the bones in the hands of beer drinkers to be denser.
The women’s hands were chosen because the bones in the fingers are among the first to show signs of osteoporosis.
Those classed as light beer drinkers – having less than a pint a day – fared just as well as those in the moderate bracket, suggesting that even small amounts can boost bone health.
The Spanish researchers said: ‘Silicon plays a major role in bone formation. Beer has been claimed to be one of the most important sources of silicon in the Western diet.’
Three million Britons are affected by osteoporosis.
Source:Mail Online.15th. Aug.2009
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