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The Connection Between Soda and Bone Loss

Attention all Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper lovers: Soda has been linked to osteoporosis, a condition that is marked by bone loss and puts you at risk for fractures, splints and breaks.

We all know by now that the sugar in soda is linked to a host of health conditions, from obesity to dental cavities. Now soda is earning demerits for its association with degrading the skeletal system.

The problem though is not with all sodas, but with the colas. So drinks like Sprite, 7-Up and Mountain Dew don’t appear to have the same bone-weakening effect as dark sodas do.

Researchers at Tufts University found that women who regularly drank cola-based sodas (three or more a day) had almost four percent lower bone mineral density in the hip, even when calcium and vitamin D intake were accounted for.

So what exactly is in dark sodas that is putting your bones at risk?

Experts still don’t have enough conclusive data to point a finger at a singular ingredient, but a few are implicated. One for instance, is phosphoric acid, a mineral that is found in sodas that gives the beverage its tangy flavor. A study in the journal General Dentistry found that soda consumption causes tooth enamel erosion. Part of the erosion is due to the presence of the phosphoric acid.

Another likely culprit is caffeine. It has been known for some time that caffeine has been linked to bone loss because it interferes with the absorption of calcium. In addition, as a stimulant, caffeine is a diuretic. As it flushes water from your system, it also flushes out calcium.

Just this past week, actress Gwyneth Paltrow publicly discussed her recent diagnosis of osteopenia, a condition in which bone mineral density is lower than normal. Osteopenia is considered a precursor to osteoporosis.

While Paltrow’s bone complications had more to do with her restrictive diet and weight, rather than soda consumption, her diagnosis sends a powerful educational message to women everywhere; namely, to take your bone health seriously.

According to the experts at WebMD, start by adding a few of the following tips into your daily diet routine. While you don’t have to completely banish Diet Coke from your refrigerator, making small changes in what you drink can make a big impact on your health.

  • Take a calcium and vitamin D supplement every day. Aim to get 1,000 mg to 1,300 mg
  • Reduce the amount of soda you consume and switch to non-cola types
  • Swap out one soda a day for one glass of milk or calcium-fortified orange juice
  • Use milk, rather than water, in baking mixes like pancake, cake or waffle batter
  • Consider adding nonfat powdered dry milk to dishes like soups, batters, cocoa mix, and puddings
  • Add resistance training to your workout routine

July 12th, 2010

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