How Can Soda Damage Your Bones?

Happy female teenager with laptop lying down drink cola
Consider your health before you sip a soda. (Image: jean-marie guyon/iStock/Getty Images)

If you're an average American, you drink around 45 gallons of soda and other sugary drinks every year, according to Kick the Can. Fast-food restaurants, sit-down restaurants, vending machines and so many other places all around are bursting at the seams with soda. Almost everyone knows that soda isn't a healthful drink, but you might not realize how much it can damage your health. Evidence backs up the detriments of this fizzy drink, and once you understand what it does to your bones, you might never look at soda the same way again.

Getting to Know Soda

Regular soda contains up to 11 teaspoons of sugar per can. The sugar causes your blood sugar to spike, which results in a release of insulin. Soda also contains phosphoric acid, and shortly after you take a drink, it hits your lower intestine and binds with magnesium, zinc and calcium. Instead of those minerals reaching your bones, you pass them out of your system when you urinate, leaving your body depleted. Diet and regular soda both contain high levels of phosphoric acid, so switching to the “healthier” variety isn't healthier after all.

Stealing from Your Bones

The bone-depleting effect of soda might affect women and teens more than adult men, according to MedPage Today. Women who drink an average of six servings of soda per day for just six weeks could see a notable -- between 3 and 6 percent -- drop in their bone mineral density. The decrease in bone mineral density was lower with women who drank diet soda, but even diet versions still resulted in a notable decrease. Teenagers are at an even bigger risk when drinking soda. When nine of 10 teen girls and seven of 10 teen boys already aren't eating enough calcium, they can't afford to lose calcium to the phosphoric acid in soda. Teens whose bones don't get enough calcium have a higher risk of breaks, fractures and, later in life, osteoporosis.

Dissolving Your Teeth

Though your teeth technically aren't bones, they're composed of many of the same minerals. Teeth are stronger than bones, but they lack restorative properties. In other words, if you damage your teeth, they won't heal as a bone will. Drinking large quantities of soda can cause tooth deterioration in more ways than just depleting your body's minerals. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, regularly drinking soda can cause tooth erosion similar to that caused by illegal drugs. The damage results from the citric acid in regular and diet soda rather than from sugar.The acid damages your enamel and makes your teeth more vulnerable to rot. Depletion of minerals caused by drinking soda is just icing on the cake.

Choosing Healthier Drinks

Instead of drinking soda, quench your thirst with something that supplies calcium instead of taking it away. Water supplies a small amount of calcium, hydrates your body and is the healthiest thing you can drink. Milk is another excellent option to nourish your body and provide a bit of calcium. Unsweetened tea and black coffee, provided you drink them in moderation, can also stand in as healthier alternatives to soda.

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