Q. Can Drinking Seltzers, Sodas or Other Carbonated Drinks Harm Bones?

By Joyce Hendley, M.S., May/June 2008

Can Drinking Seltzers, Sodas or Other Carbonated Drinks Harm Bones?

A. Perhaps. There’s research that links drinking certain types of soda with weaker bones—but carbonation doesn’t seem to be the problem.

Nutrition experts once believed caffeine could be the culprit. In a 2001 study out of Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, people lost measurable amounts of calcium after drinking caffeinated sodas. Drinking decaffeinated sodas didn’t appear to have the same effect. As it turned out, though, people tended to make up for the losses by excreting less calcium later in the day. The researchers concluded that if sodas harm bones it’s probably because people drink them in place of milk.

But another study, reported in 2006 by researchers at Tufts University in Boston, suggests that colas, specifically, might be problematic. Among the 1,413 women whose dietary records and bone-density scans they reviewed, those who drank a diet or regular cola at least three times a week over five years had significantly lower bone densities than those who sipped cola once a month or less. No such effect occurred with other carbonated drinks, even after researchers factored in intake of calcium from foods.

The likely cause? Phosphoric acid, which is unique to colas, says Katherine Tucker, Ph.D., lead author of the study. When the body breaks down this compound, the acidity (or concentration of free hydrogen ions) of the blood increases. To neutralize acidity, hydrogen ions bind with minerals, including calcium and magnesium. If they’re not available in the blood, says Tucker, “the body draws calcium from bones.” The occasional cola drinker probably needn’t worry. “The real risk is for those who drink cola every day,” says Tucker.

Bottom line: There are plenty of good reasons to quit a regular soda habit; carbonation isn’t one of them. In fact, sparkling mineral waters sometimes contain a little calcium and magnesium, says Tucker, “so they might even benefit bones.”


There are enough healthy drink alternatives available that soda-pop should never be introduced into the diet of children - EVER.

Tari, Hesperia, CA


08/31/2009 - 8:14pm

Tari, It's people like you that cause problems in nutrition. Because instead of teaching your children to make healthy choices AND exercise moderation in all DICTATE what is right and what is wrong. So it's an all or nothing thing, not only for yourself (but then again you probably drink 'soda-pop' and make your kids watch) but also for your kids. Instead of being an option, it becomes a forbidden desire- causing you to lose control of your kids (because they'll be off at a friends house where they can get coke or going down to the corner store to drink a whole one by themselves) instead of being at home where you'd be able to monitor their intake.

My daughter is 2 and she gets soda...we give her ginger ale (without the fizz) for tummy aches because I'd rather put a thimble full of soda in her than a "medicine". She also gets Coke for a cold...we boil coke with fresh ginger and a little honey to fight off a cold with a cough. The caffeine helps with aches and pains and gives her a little more energy while the ginger helps her throat. The amount she gets is about half a shot glass full per day. When she's feeling really bad and just isn't getting enough fluids then we give her sprite mixed with warm water- but we keep the mixture in the original bottle so that she THINKS she's drinking a soda...then she's a lot happier and I'm happy that she's drinking more.


12/16/2009 - 2:14am

If it's bad it's bad, even in moderation. What is the point of arguing if it's killing your body.


01/04/2010 - 3:44pm

Just a note - phosphoric acid is not unique to sodas. I noticed the other day that Lipton Green Teas (both carbonated and non-carbonated varieties) contain some amount of it as well. If phosphoric acid is, as this article suggests, the culprit, it seems best to check all bottled drinks for it.


02/07/2010 - 12:39am

I love soda but I gave it up for lent and think that I will try to drink less .but I like Ice tea and I drink Tetley and it is decaffinated. And now that the information is came out I may just continue not to drink cola. But I have a quested If I drink ginger is that better then the cola.Tana Medlock


03/31/2010 - 3:46pm

Soda as medicine? That's a new one.


04/01/2010 - 5:41pm

"Nutrition experts once believed caffeine could be the culprit."

And then they proclaimed it loudly from the rooftops as a "gospel truth". Just as they did when Eggs were thought to be evil because of dietary cholesterol.. And Peanut Butter... Red Meat... And then they were proved wrong.

And still a lot of them trumpet it as "gospel truth", and will continue to do so for years to come.

In fact, there's so much utter garbage being spouted by so-called "nutrition experts" that a sensible person might just be better of disregarding everything they have to say entirely.. because it'll all change in 5 years.. then change back.. then change again.. because these people don't know what they claim to know, period.

A sensible person just *might* find it more beneficial to eat a sensible diet. Eat your veg, some whole grains, a bit of meat here and there.. and avoid just about everything "processed" by the commercial foods industry that you can. Because regardless of any of the claims made.. our diet has very visibly and obviously gotten much lower quality since we started getting everything pre-packaged.

Go with that, you can't really go that far wrong.. And if you're counting grams of this or that.. you've just got way too much time on your hands and an unhealthy obsession.


04/29/2010 - 2:20am

Certainly in days of yore, when I grew up, sodas and candy were NOT consumed every day...........maybe not even every week.

Too much of most things is not good... Would be great if people would believe in MODERATION in using these once "treats" which (unhappily) seem to have become staples. AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGGH!!!


06/10/2010 - 7:05pm

Watered down coke and ginger ale is good for kids when they have fever, and tummy aches. I never warmed it. Ginger ale is good when anyone has a cold or flue, also seven up, and coke. When you have stomach ache from bad food, you need lots of liquids to clean you out.

Roswell, NM

__ Anonymous


06/11/2010 - 12:33am

we love soda


06/11/2010 - 2:02am

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