Phosphoric acid in sodaIf you needed another reason to avoid drinking dehydrating, addicting, and fattening sodas, we might have one for you — soda’s phosphorous (or phosphoric acid) content. Phosphorous is added to soda, primarily colas, as a sour flavoring ingredient, and too much of it in your diet may lead to decreased bone density.

In and of itself, phosphorous, which is a mineral acid, isn’t bad. In fact, in the right balance phosphorous is essential for our health: our bones use phosphorous to form their structure, our cells use phosphorous for energy, and phosphorous is needed in order to active numerous hormones, enzymes, and other cell-signaling molecules. Without phosphorous we can’t survive, but since it’s so prevalent in our foods, phosphorous deficiency is extremely rare and usually only occurs on the brink of starvation.

Too much phosphorous, however, can be a problem, especially for those who aren’t getting enough calcium or who have trouble with their kidneys.  Phosphorous and calcium are carefully regulated by the kidneys, and when there’s an excess amount of phosphorous in the blood stream, the kidneys stop releasing the active form of vitamin D (essential for calcium absorption).  The repercussions: Long-term elevation of phosphorous in the blood stream can cause decreased bone density, which can contribute to osteoporosis.  Here’s why cola can be an issue; at 40 mg of phosphorous per 12 oz, it’s relatively high in phosphorous, and several studies have linked excess cola consumption, in particular, with decreased bone density.

Soda’s phosphorous levels aren’t the only culprit though, soda is also high in caffeine and sodium — both can cause a loss of calcium.  At the same time, soda is low in calcium and other bone enhancing minerals and vitamins.  These nutrient embalances are exacerbated by the fact that people who drink lots of soda during the day tend not to consume enough milk or other calcium containing foods to offset the amount of phosphorous ingested.  Thus, overall, the problem with soda isn’t just that it contains phosphorous (a lot of foods contain phosphorous) but that it contributes to an unbalanced level of phosphorous and calcium in the bloodstream.  Soda isn’t the only offended either; phosphorous is being added to an increasing number of other processed foods as well.

Reducing or eliminating soda and processed foods from your diet is the best way to ensure an optimum phosphorous to calcium ratio.  Eating high quality dairy products from grass fed cow is another way to boost calcium levels.  Then, if you want to be even more ahead of the game in terms of bone and cardiovascular health, combine a whole-food diet with outdoor exercise.  The vitamin D from the sunshine, the healthy stress on the bones from exercise, and the proper calcium to phosphorous ratio will work together to help keep your bones healthy for life.

References: Linus Pauling Institute, PubMed

Originally posted 2013-04-30 03:16:53.


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