If you are among those that enjoy fizzy soft drinks… you may want to reconsider!
We humans do not produce magnesium on our own. Magnesium and other minerals can only be obtained from the earth. Their biological role is multifaceted. Minerals help to maintain the pH of the body and are necessary for proper nerve conduction, contracting and relaxing muscles, and tissue growth.
Many people are unaware of the negative effect soda drinking has on mineral intake, mineral absorption and assimilation within the body. In middle-aged adults, consumption of one soda a day is associated with a 48% higher prevalence and incidence of multiple metabolic risk factors linked to magnesium deficiency, such as diabetes, obesity, and higher resting blood pressure. Carbonated soda consumption is negatively associated with achieving adequate calcium and magnesium in children aged 6 years and older. Consuming just 8 ounces of carbonated soda decreases the likelihood of achieving recommended calcium intake for children by 40%.
In this piece we will be discussing the different components of soda that contribute to magnesium depletion in the body.
What are the mechanisms behind soda drinking and magnesium loss?
Phosphorous in Soda Depletes Minerals
Do you enjoy that “tangy” flavor in soda? The “tang” comes from phosphoric acid added by soda manufacturers. Phosphorous itself is a necessary mineral. You need some phosphorous in your diet to support bone structure, create and store energy in the body, transmit genetic material, and regulate the body’s pH levels. Phosphoric acid is phosphorous that has undergone a modification process to become more chemically stable. Companies add phosphoric acid to many soft drinks to make the flavor more enhanced and give it that tanginess that we enjoy. However, high phosphorous levels in soda can lead to reduced body storage of minerals.
Excessive intake of phosphorous actually blocks mineral absorption in the body. Too much phosphorous binds with minerals in your blood, thus rendering them unavailable to your body’s functions. Your body, sensing it doesn’t have enough calcium or magnesium in the blood, takes it from your bones. Since phosphorous intake is increased when drinking most carbonated beverages, this depletes your body of both calcium and magnesium.
It’s not just sugary soft drinks that produce this negative effect. Phosphoric acid is also found in diet sodas. One 12 ounce cola contains approximately 40 mg of phosphoric acid!
Sugar in Sweetened Soda Robs the Body of Nutrients, and Displaces Nutrient-Dense Foods
For every molecule of sugar we eat our bodies need 54 molecules of magnesium to be able to process that sugar. Therefore consuming sugar-laden soda depletes our body of this necessary nutrient. There are approximately 39 grams of sugar in one 12 ounce can of sweetened cola.
But beyond the fact that magnesium is depleted through simply processing the sugar we consume, an additional factor contributes to reduced intake. It is suspected that the role of soft drinks in mineral deficiency and reduced bone mineral density may be partially due to the fact that these soft drinks are displacing foods that would offer a source of minerals.
According to Loren Cordain, author of “Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century”, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
Standard American diets high in sugar and processed grains are both void of necessary micronutrients and deplete micronutrients. Refined sugars such as those found in soft drinks do not contain any vitamins or minerals. Therefore consuming these beverages reduces the nutrients in the diet.”
Sugar in soda replaces the calories and nutrients we could get from eating more nutrient-dense and mineral rich real foods, such as bone broths and grass-fed liver.
Think you are making a better decision by avoiding sugar and drinking diet soda? If so, it’s time to think again!
Diet soda has also been shown to reduce magnesium, and may be associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke, related to magnesium deficiency. The most commonly used sweetener in diet soda is aspartame, which is a source of aspartic acid. Aspartic acid interferes with the actions of magnesium, thus chronic aspartame consumption may lead to magnesium depletion. In studies, consumption of diet soda has been linked to numerous disorders associated with magnesium deficiency such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and osteoporosis.
Caffeine in Soda Reduces Both Calcium and Magnesium
Do you enjoy soda for the caffeine “buzz”? Many soft drinks now contain excessive amounts of caffeine, and some claim to give you more energy.
One 12-ounce soda contains approximately 30-60 mg of caffeine. Urinary calcium and magnesium excretion and intestinal calcium secretion were correlated with caffeine consumption in metabolic studies on premenopausal women. For every 150 mg of caffeine ingested, approximately 5 mg of calcium is lost. This effect occurs even hours after the consumption of caffeine.
Caffeine also inhibits the amount of calcium that is absorbed through the intestinal tract and depletes the amount retained by the bones. In another study, female college students were either given decaffeinated or caffeinated beverages after fasting for 10 hours. Urine samples after three hours revealed significant excretion of calcium, magnesium and sodium after caffeine intake. Thus limiting caffeine intake is crucial when trying to maintain adequate minerals.
As you can see, soda drinking depletes minerals in the body in several ways, and replaces calories from more nutrient dense sources. The best way to stay hydrated by far is drinking real filtered water. If you are craving flavor or bite, try adding some lemon or lime juice to your water!