Soda and Osteoporosis: Is There a Connection?
Soda and Osteoporosis: Possible Culprits
Phosphoric acid, a major component in most sodas, may be to blame, according to lead study author Katherine Tucker, PhD.
Phosphorus itself is an important bone mineral. But if you're getting a disproportionate amount of phosphorus compared to the amount of calcium you're getting, that could lead to bone loss.
Another possible culprit is caffeine, which experts have long known can interfere with calcium absorption. In the Tufts study, both caffeinated and non-caffeinated colas were associated with lower bone density. But the caffeinated drinks appeared to do more damage.
This study isn't the last word on the subject. Some experts point out that the amount of phosphoric acid in soda is minimal compared to that found in chicken or cheese. And no one's telling women to stop eating chicken.
Smart Steps for Soda Lovers
Whether the apparent soda and osteoporosis link is due to effects of the soda itself or simply because soda drinkers get less of other, healthier beverages, it's clear that you need to be extra-vigilant about your bone health if you're a soda fiend.
"Soda drinkers need to pay extra attention to getting calcium from other sources," says Dawson-Hughes.
A few steps you can take to boost your bone health:
- Can't give soda up entirely? Cut out one or two cans a day (depending on how much you drink). The Tufts study indicates that it might help to switch to a non-cola soda (like Sprite or Mountain Dew).
- Better still, for every soda you skip, reach for a glass of milk or fortified orange juice instead. Not only will you be cutting back on any harmful effect from the soda itself, you'll be adding calcium. (If you're a diet soda drinker worried about calories, here's a plus: fat-free milk has even more calcium than higher-calorie whole milk.)
- Have a breakfast cereal fortified with calcium -- and pour milk on top.
Add milk instead of water when you prepare things like pancakes, waffles, and cocoa.
Add nonfat powdered dry milk to all kinds of recipes -- puddings, cookies, breads, soups, gravy, and casseroles. One tablespoon adds 52 mg of calcium. You can add three tablespoons per cup of milk in puddings, cocoa and custard; four tablespoons per cup of hot cereal (before cooking); and 2 tablespoons per cup of flour in cakes, cookies and breads.
Take a calcium and vitamin D supplement if you aren't getting enough calcium (1000-1300 mg, depending on your age) in your diet.
Get plenty of weight-bearing and resistance exercise.