British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

The silicon content of beer and its bioavailability in healthy volunteers

Supannee Sripanyakorna1a2, Ravin Jugdaohsingha1, Hazel Elliotta1a2, Caroline Walkera3, Payal Mehtaa2, Sera Shoukrua2, Richard P. H. Thompsona1 and Jonathan J. Powella1a2a4 c1

a1 Gastrointestinal Laboratory, The Rayne Institute, St Thomas’ Hospital, London SE1 7EH, UK

a2 Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, King's College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 8WA, UK

a3 Brewing Research International, Lyttel Hall, Nutfield, Surrey RH1 4HY,UK

a4 MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Fulbourn Road, Cambridge CB1 9NL, UK


Dietary Si, as soluble orthosilicic acid (OSA), may be important for the growth and development of bone and connective tissue. Beer appears to be a major contributor to Si intake, although the Si content of beer and its bioavailability in human subjects have not been well established. Here we investigated the Si content of different beers and then estimated Si absorption from beer in healthy volunteers. The Si content of seventy-six different beers was estimated using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry and one of the beers, used in the ingestion study, was ultrafiltered to determine OSA content. Next, following the ingestion of 0·6 litres beer (22·5mg Si; 4·6% (v/v) ethanol), serum and urinary Si levels were measured in nine healthy volunteers over a 6h period. A solution of OSA was similarly investigated as a positive control and water and 4·6% ethanol as negative controls. The mean Si level of beer was 19·2 (SD 6·6) mg/l; the median Si level was 18·0mg/l. There was no significant difference in the Si levels of the different beers by geographical origin or type of beer. Serum and urinary Si levels increased considerably following the ingestion of beer or a solution of OSA but not with the ingestion of either 4·6% ethanol or water. The ultrafilterability of Si from beer (about 80%) and its absorption in volunteers (about 55%) was comparable with that of a solution of OSA suggesting that Si in beer is present chiefly in a monomeric form and is readily bioavailable.

(Received July 26 2003)

(Revised November 25 2003)

(Accepted December 06 2003)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Jonathan J. Powell, fax +44 1223 437515, email