The body needs minerals like magnesium and phosphorus to function properly. Not getting enough of these nutrients or taking in too much can have adverse side effects. Whereas magnesium deficiency is common, having too much phosphorus in the diet occurs more often than phosphorus deficiency. Although both these minerals are essential to healthy nutrition, drinking too many beverages high in phospates can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb magnesium, calcium and iron.
All the organs in the body need magnesium, which helps regulate levels of potassium, calcium, copper and zinc. Magnesium also works to activate enzymes and is sometimes used to help treat conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes and osteoporosis. Magnesium deficiency can lead to symptoms including irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, leg cramps, muscle twitches and depression. Coffee and cocoa are common beverages that provide magnesium in the diet.
Phosphorus helps form strong bones and teeth by maintaining calcium balance in the body. This mineral also regulates fluid levels and helps the body keep up a proper acid-base balance. Like magnesium, phosphorus plays a part in the body’s energy metabolism. Phosphorus helps the body absorb vitamin B – another nutrient that plays a role in energy production. Fruit juices such as orange juice, apple juice and grape juice contain high levels of phosphorus. Phosphoric acid – a chemical food additive that contains phosphorus – is often added to carbonated beverages such as sodas, mineral waters and seltzers. Phosphorus is also one of the electrolytes contained in many brands of sports drinks.
Instant tea, powder fruit-flavored drinks and powder dairy drink mixes are beverages other than coffee and cocoa, which are high in magnesium. There is little difference in the amount of magnesium contained in instant, regular or decaffeinated coffee. The same is true for regular or decaffeinated tea. Magnesium is often added to fortify fruit-flavored drinks. Sports drinks may contain electrolyte minerals including magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium and potassium. These are intended for use following exercise to replace fluids and electrolytes the body loses through sweating. Phosphoric acid is added to carbonated soft drinks – particularly colas – to improve flavor. In addition, phosphorus is sometimes added to beverage powders to enhance the nutrient value.
Other Food Sources
Green vegetables – particularly spinach – nuts, halibut and unrefined whole grains such as oatmeal are good sources of magnesium. Milk and meat protein are the main food sources of phosphorus. However, drinking too much milk can lower magnesium levels in the body. Other protein-rich foods including fish, poultry and eggs also contain phosphorus. Legumes, dried fruit and whole-grain foods are additional dietary sources of the mineral.