March 14, 2009

You Ask, I Answer: Soda & Calcium

At 24, I was recently diagnosed with osteopenia.

I know you've said that soda can cause calcium to be leached from your bones because of the phosphoric acid in it, but does this apply to all carbonated beverages?

What about sparkling water?

I want to make sure I'm getting enough calcium from my diet.

-- Sarah (last name withheld)

New York, NY

As you state, sodas can cause calcium to be leached from bones due to the presence of phosphoric acid (if this is news to you, please see this post for details).

Not all carbonated beverages contain phosphoric acid; you'll usually find that particular ingredient in cola beverages (rather than lemon-lime sodas or club sodas).

In any case, it is always wise to take a peek at the ingredient list for reassurance.

Keep in mind that phosphoric acid in soda calcium leaching is only a problem if your calcium consumption is insufficient.

Someone who meets their daily calcium requirement and drinks one can of soda a day is in a very different -- and much less worrisome -- situation from someone who only gets 40 percent of their daily calcium requirement and drinks three cans of soda on a daily basis.


Trinda said...

OMG, I was enjoying reading your blog until I read your statement that "Acid in soda calcium leeching is only a problem if our calcium consumption is insufficient".. what? Soda is all sugar and all empty calories, which is adding to the big overweight issue in the standard American diet. BUT, A 24 year old with Osteopenia is a alarm clock to drastically change their diet, and lifestyle, to absorbable calcium without saturated fats, and to add weight bearing exercise. Soda should be avoided at all costs..Plus, all all dairy products have saturated fat which increases the incidence of leaching calcium from the bones to balance the acid/alkaline levels.)

Andy Bellatti said...


It seems you have entirely misunderstood my answer.

The question was not about sugar, excessive calories, or soda's relation to obesity. Sarah simply inquired about the calcium-leaching effects of phosphoric acid.

In that case, I found it worth mentioning that phosphoric acid and its relation to calcium leaching is only a concern for someone who does not meet their daily calcium requirement.

Someone who meets their daily calcium requirement has enough calcium available to handle the intake of phosphoric acid from soda.

Saying that "soda causes osteoporosis" is an inaccurate and superficial statement that does not take into account specific quantities or the interplay of nutrients.

Unfortunately, since most people are not getting enough calcium AND drinking a lot of soda, we are seeing higher incidences of osteoporosis.

n/a said...

Interestingly enough, I've been reading the Pediatric Nutrition Handbook of the American Academy of Pediatricians before bed (it helps me sleep ;) and it noted a study that only children who consumed milk with lunch met their calcium intake for the day. Reason being, children's intakes are so high, it's difficult to meet them on a crappy diet.

My pediatrician insists my daughter drink milk, and if not milk (because my daughter is apparently lactose intolerant), then fortified soymilk.

At least the fortified soymilk also has Vitamin D, which is the only vitamin that the AAP recommends as a supplement, even in a well-balanced diet (because pasty little North American kids don't get out enough, I guess.) FYI, they need 30 minutes per week in their diaper, or 2 hours with clothes to meet their Vitamin D requirement. Interesting, eh?