Researchers in Hong Kong have reported new evidence that green tea can help improve bone health. They found that the tea contains a group of chemicals that can stimulate bone formation and help slow its breakdown.
Green tea is one of the most popular beverages consumed worldwide and is now also available as a dietary supplement. Researchers suggest that the beverage has the potential to help in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and other bone diseases.
In the study, scientists noted that many scientific studies have linked tea to beneficial effects in preventing cancer, heart disease, and other conditions. Recent studies in humans and cell cultures also suggest that tea may also benefit bone health. But few scientific studies have explored the exact chemicals in tea that might be responsible for this effect.
The scientists exposed a group of cultured bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) to three major green tea components - epigallocatechin (EGC), gallocatechin (GC), and gallocatechin gallate (GCG) - for several days. They found that one in particular, EGC, boosted the activity of a key enzyme that promotes bone growth by up to 79 percent. EGC also significantly boosted levels of bone mineralization in the cells, which strengthens bones. The scientists also showed that high concentrations of ECG blocked the activity of a type of cell (osteoclast) that breaks down or weakens bones. The green tea components did not cause any toxic effects to the bone cells, they noted.
Bone health is important becasue weak, undernourished bones can cause or worsen diseases like osteoporosis, a condition caused by loss of bone tissue, resulting in brittle, easily breakable bones.
Apart from green tea, for healthy and strong bones, make sure to include plenty of calcium, vitamin D (needed for the absorption of calcium) and good-quality protein in your diet. Eat dairy products, fish, poultry, meat, and eggs.
Research Paper Details:
Ko et al. Effects of tea Catechins, Epigallocatechin, Gallocatechin, and Gallocatechin Gallate, on Bone metabolism. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2009; 57 (16): 7293.