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Diet and Nutrition

Calcium absorption and carbonated beverage

07/31/2006

Question:

Does carbonated beverage (specifically carbonated water) inhibit calcium absorption?

I have trouble drinking enough water. Carbonated water is more palatable. But, I now have osteopenia and I`ve heard that carbonated water can inhibit calcium absorption.

Fact or fiction? Thanks!

Answer:

Thanks for your question.  There are several factors that increase the risk of developing osteopenia.  These include being female, Asian or caucasian, inactive (little to no weight bearing exercise), thin, a smoker or alcoholic or having a diet too low in calcium or too high in phosphorus.  Family history is also a risk factor.

Carbonated beverages (including water) contain phosphorus, which can upset the balance of calcium in the body.  Caffeinated colas (such as Coke and Pepsi) tend to be higher in phosphoric acid than clear soft drinks (like 7-Up and Sprite), but both are hard on your bones if your calcium intake is poor.

I suggest you talk to your doctor about your treatment options, which will likely include medication (such as Fosamax or Actonel) and 1500 mg of calcium (taken in divided doses three times/day).  If you are over 70, your doctor may also prescribe a vitamin D supplement, which aids in calcium absorption.

If you don't like the taste of tap water, try adding fresh lemon or lime juice to it.  There are new lemon and lime 'substitutes' on the market called True Lemon and True Lime which can also be added to water (or other foods) for improved taste.  Another option is to drink phosphorus-free beverages such as juice, Crystal light or decaffeinated tea.  Good luck.

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Response by:

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Adjunct Faculty
University of Cincinnati