Calcium loss, cola link?

Q: Is there any research suggesting a correlation between consuming carbonated drinks and depletion of calcium in the body?

A: Let me make a distinction between carbonated drinks such as sparkling water or Perrier and pop or sodas. Carbonated drinks do not leach calcium out of your body, but it is a different story with the dark coloured pops such as colas.

They contain phosphoric acid, which has been shown to be problematic.

Dr. Katherine Tucker, a researcher at Tufts University in Boston, looked at the bone mineral density readings of more than 2,500 adult men and women and surveyed their soft drink consumption.

She found that women who drank more than three 12-ounce servings of cola per day had 2.3 to 5.1 percent lower bone mineral density in the hip, compared with women who consumed less than one serving per day.

The same finding did not seem to apply to men or those drinking only colourless pops.

It is believed that the phosphoric acid in colas binds with the calcium in the stomach and cannot easily be absorbed into the body.

Men might be protected because they generally have higher bone density. They also tend to drink more alcohol than women on average, and alcohol has been thought to have a slightly protective effect.

Drinking too much cola is even worse for children whose bones are still growing.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs when normal liver cells are replaced with fat. Eventually this condition causes scarring or cirrhosis and/or liver cancer. The end result is liver failure.

NAFLD is now the most common liver disease in North America. Many patients are unaware that they even have this problem because there may be no obvious signs or symptoms for several decades.

It may be picked up with routine blood tests for liver function.

When the disease is more advanced, there may be nausea, weight loss, fatigue, lack of energy and poor concentration.

In the late stages, there is internal bleeding and muscle wasting in addition to ascites, a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity and jaundice, yellow skin and yellow whites of eyes.

If it is not too far gone, the disease is reversible if the person can slowly lose at least nine percent of their weight over a period of months. He or she should also avoid alcohol.

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