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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

"Pop" Quiz

"Pop" Quiz

Soda pop, that is. Have you ever thought about the effect sodas have on you?

Bet you never thought they would help you run faster or jump higher. But have you ever thought they could actually be bad for you and your bones? The results of a study at the Agricultural Research Service suggest that drinking lots of sugary (non-diet) sodas may hurt bone building and bone maintenance. This is especially true when you don't eat enough good foods.

Only 11 young men in their 20's and 30's were in the study, and lots more people need to be evaluated to get a solid answer. But proper bone building is possible only when people eat and drink the right things. That means a diet that supplies the body with needed amounts of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus--the most important nutrients for strong bones.

The young men in the study drank almost 5 cans--57 ounces, or close to a half gallon--of soda a day for weeks at a time. The huge amount of soda (which contains a lot of sugar) actually lowered the mens' calcium and phosphorus levels.

This effect was greatest when the mens diets were also low in magnesium. This news is important because less than half of teens get enough magnesium in their diets and most drink sugary soft drinks. The average teenage boy drinks about 20 ounces (almost 2 cans) of the stuff a day, and some consume as much as the teens in the study. Teen girls don't drink quite as much.

The main conclusion of the studies so far is clear: Mom is right--don't overdo the sugary soda pop, and scarf down your veggies, especially leafy greens like spinach and kale. These vegetables, as well as nuts and whole grains, are rich in magnesium. And remember your milk and dairy products too: They're high in phosphorus and calcium that also help build bone. That will help you make a softer landing on the other side of the high-jump bar.

--Robert Sowers, Information Staff, Agricultural Research Service

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Last Modified: 2/14/2011
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