Almost everyone knows that consuming milk and other sources of calcium help to maintain bone health.

But what about beer? According to research conducted by the Dept. of Food Science & Technology at the University of California Davis, those summer beer pong games may actually be part of a bone-friendly diet.

Researchers suggested that silicon found in beer may help prevent osteoporosis by enhancing bone mineral density. Osteoporosis, the gradual deterioration of bone tissue and mineral density, is currently the most common bone disease, affecting over 200 million people worldwide. Altering an osteoporosis patient’s nutrition has been shown to help eliminate the general symptoms of bone deterioration.

Conventionally, doctors encourage their patients to consume foods high in calcium by introducing more milk, cheese or yogurt into their diets. As the UC Davis study suggests, medical practitioners may now begin recommending their osteoporosis patients to also consume foods and beverages which contain silicon. Other than beer, sources of natural silicon include a variety vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

In his book, Beer: Health and Nutrition, lead researcher Charles Bamforth says, “Bone mineral density is higher in social or moderate drinkers than in abstainers or heavy drinkers.” As with most things in life, it appears that moderation is key.

One must also note, however, that not all beers are created equal. Bamforth says that the beers which proved most effective in increasing bone mineral density are those which contain high levels of malted barley and hops. In particular, pale ales are usually the most rich in dietary silicon.

On the other hand, it has been found that darker beers tend to have the highest levels of antioxidant content than their lighter relatives. Given this revelation, perhaps any beer arguably has some type of positive effect on the body (aside, of course, from the obvious euphoric effect that many of you know and love). So, next time you crack open a cold one, use it to wash down those calcium pills you’ve been meaning to take while you toast to those denser, silicon-happy bones of yours.

But please, readers, as usual, remember that your ale of choice should be complemented by a balanced diet of other sources of dietary silicon including fruits, veggies and whole grains. After all, long after your UCSB days are done, the strong bones you build now shouldn’t be forced to carry around the weight of a beer gut.