Are There Health Risks of Carbonated Water?

Sparkling water is delicious, and with the popularity of brands like La Croix and Spindrift, there are more seltzer options available than ever before. But what are the disadvantages of sparkling water, and does carbonation cause health effects?

Sparkling water has several health benefits. (Image: yipengge/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

There are no serious health disadvantages of seltzer water, but sparkling water may cause gas or heartburn.

Sparkling Water and Heartburn

The Mayo Clinic explains that carbonated beverages (drinks with added carbon dioxide to cause bubbles) may contribute to heartburn, also known as acid reflux. That's when stomach acid "backs up" from your stomach into your esophagus, causing a painful burning feeling in your chest or throat. The Mayo Clinic stresses that occasional heartburn is very common, and you can typically treat it using over-the-counter antacids.

However, if you experience heartburn often (specifically mild heartburn twice a week or more and severe heartburn once a week or more) you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you suffer from GERD, the Cleveland Clinic recommends lifestyle changes like cutting out carbonated beverages to help ease your symptoms and reduce how often you experience attacks of heartburn.

Alongside carbonated beverages, other foods and drinks that may make GERD symptoms worse include caffeinated drinks, citrus fruits or juices, spicy food and anything particularly greasy or fatty. The bottom line: Heartburn is one of the possible disadvantages of sparkling water.

Seltzer and Bone Density

The National Osteoporosis Foundation website explains that ingredients found in colas, namely caffeine and phosphorous, might negatively affect your bone density. But since sparkling water does not contain these ingredients, Harvard Health Publishing confirms that carbonated water has no effect on bone density. Seltzer health effects do not including contributing to osteoporosis or increasing your risk of fracturing a bone.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages may contribute to bone loss. As such, the foundation recommends limiting your intake of those beverages.

Sparkling Water and Dental Health

According to a paper published in the April 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, drinks that have an acidic pH of under 4.0, on the pH scale of 0 to 14, can contribute to dental erosion (basically, breaking down your tooth enamel and contributing to dental cavities). Researchers tested the pH levels of 379 nonalcoholic and nondairy beverages available in stores, including three sparkling waters.

None of the carbonated waters the researchers tested had a pH lower than 4: Perrier carbonated mineral water had a pH of 5.25, Canada Dry Club Soda had a pH of 5.24, and San Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water had a pH of 4.96. The study only tested three sparkling waters, so it's possible that other brands of sparkling water have a pH under 4 and could therefore contribute to dental erosion.

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