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

By Joyce Hendley, 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.”

COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

...said the Health Nut Nazi. Anybody hear about something called moderation? Nothing against healthy foods and salads with lite dressing and carrots and whole grains and steel-cut oats. It's been my experience, however, that the word 'organic' translates in the real world to mean: 'much more expensive, with a negligible, if not dubious, nutritive boost.'
I also like the occasional steak (6 ozs., not 16) or slice of pizza (not four). We shouldn't cheat ourselves of good flavor, but the trick is knowing when to quit. Do exercise that you enjoy doing, not some ball-busting marathon! I like to ride a road bike, and that's something I enjoy which is also good for my knees, heart, wind, what have you.
And every once in awhile, I get a 2-liter bottle of caffeine-free diet Coke, and twice a year (Father's Day and my birthday) I buy a gallon of whole milk instead of the usual skim. And I play with my grandchildren. Enjoy all of life, and don't make yourself a slave to some illusion of "perfect" health.

Anonymous

06/19/2012 - 12:57pm

It's all BAD! The only thing that's good for the body
is food that's straight from the earth.
Fruits, vegetables & herbs & yes we can
get plenty of amino acids from this diet. If
everyone ate this diet most all diseases
would fade away & people would die
only of old age. Soda of any sort is
not natural & definitely not nutritious, but if you want to keep
consuming it no one is going to stop you.

Anonymous

03/28/2012 - 10:13pm

I own a beverage company here in Boulder, Colorado. Periodically, the question of “Is carbonation ok for me?” comes up in our emails. The question always stems from two concerns that have been floating around the Internet:
1. Does carbonated water weaken bones or leach minerals?
2. Does carbonated water have too much sodium?
On bones: there isn’t a shread of scientific evidence that points to carbonated water having any effect, at all, on bones. Nor is there any conceivable means by which it could. Carbonation is simply carbon dioxide—CO2—which is a natural and extremely important part of human biology; it is our main way of balancing internal pH.
It is believed that the original fear around bone loss and fizzy drinks came from an ingredient used in some cokes and sodas, called phosphorous. Phosphorous may in fact leach calcium from the body. But many fizzy drinks don’t contain a speck of it. More importantly, it has nothing to do with the carbonation. Again, carbonation is simply CO2 gas. Nothing else.
On excess sodium: again, there’s no correlation at all with carbonated water and sodium. There is zero sodium in most fizzy drinks.
The original question was more about sodas and pops in general. But since the question often revolves around the safety of the bubbles, I wanted to point out that carbonation is nothing more than carbon dioxide, something we produce every time we breath. It doesn’t leach minerals and it doesn’t contain salt.

bt_1

08/02/2010 - 7:14pm

My handy man only drinks around 3 glasses of water a year(yes year).He drinks 3 cans of coke every day no lunch...One glass of orange juice for breakfast and a full supper whatever his wife cooks....he is 75 years and fitter then a 25 year old and was never sick in his life....I guess coke really add life...LOL...Me on the other I just have to look at soda and I pick up weight...I guess its all in the genetics .....I stopped drinking soda for 2 months and substituted it with water just tap(no bottle) and guess what I lost no weight so I;m back on soda.Whats the use of living if you cant enjoy the a little bit of soda ..besides everything is organic..It all comes from our planet weather they make it in the lab or not all the ingredients are from mother earth.....Long live the soda revolution...LOL

Anonymous

07/17/2010 - 3:44pm

My mother-in-law drinks a lot of coke. She died last year at the age of 91.

Anonymous

07/10/2010 - 11:37am

we love soda

Anonymous

06/11/2010 - 2:02am

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

Anonymous

06/11/2010 - 12:33am

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!!!

Anonymous

06/10/2010 - 7:05pm

"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.

Anonymous

04/29/2010 - 2:20am

Soda as medicine? That's a new one.

Anonymous

04/01/2010 - 5:41pm

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