You Want Milk With That?

Milk is an important source of calcium.
Milk is an important source of calcium.

Teenagers and Soft Drinks: The Importance of Calcium in Young Adults

When you’re thirsty, what’s better than a sugary, carbonated soft drink that gives you a kick of energy from caffeine? The answer would be any drink that won’t lead to weaker bones later in life! What many teenagers don’t realize is that when they choose soda or energy drinks instead of milk, water, orange juice (or any other less sugary drink), they are starting a downhill trend towards decreased bone mineral density and osteoporosis when they are adults.

So what is bone mineral density (BMD)? Each cubic centimeter of bone has a certain concentration of minerals, and having normal BMD means that your bones are strong and able to withstand a normal amount of force. So, a normal BMD does not mean that your bones won’t ever break, but it does mean that they are less likely to. If your bones have severely low BMD, you will be diagnosed with osteoporosis, which generally affects the elderly, but is being diagnosed in more people at an earlier age. Osteoporosis leads to increased risk of fractures and breaks, especially in the wrist, ribs, vertebra, and hip, but also to “Dowager’s Hump” (hunchback). The resulting effects of these issues can lead to an increased risk of falling, and a lower quality of life.

Most teenagers don’t think about what will happen when they are older, and think that they are young enough and healthy enough to eat or drink whatever they want without consequences. Teenagers who choose soft drinks or energy drinks on occasion are not at a high risk. However, teenagers who consume these drinks every day, or most days, are the ones that are at increased risk. Additionally, small children who get in the habit of choosing soft drinks instead of healthier choices are in a routine of drinking them as they grow into teenagers so parents should start early with helping children make better choices.

Small children who get in the habit of choosing soft drinks instead of healthier choices are in a routine of drinking them as they grow into teenagers.
Small children who get in the habit of choosing soft drinks instead of healthier choices are in a routine of drinking them as they grow into teenagers.

Also, since a person drinks a limited number of beverages a day, and many teenagers are choosing soda, they are usually not receiving an adequate amount of calcium needed for growing and strengthening bones. Furthermore, carbonated drinks contain phosphoric acid which further pulls calcium from bones. This not only leads to decreased calcium in the bones, but also to increased calcium in the urine leading to an increased risk for a potential kidney stone.
What if the teenagers in your life can’t or won’t drink milk? There are many other options that provide calcium. Soymilk, rice-milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, and calcium-fortified water are available. In addition, yogurt, cheese, eggs, tuna, salmon, dry roasted almonds, and broccoli are just a few examples of calcium-rich foods.

We hope that this article provides an incentive to talk to the teenagers in your life about the importance of choosing calcium-rich foods and drinks that supply their growing bones. Osteoporosis is an increasing problem and can start at a younger age unless teenagers refrain from increased consumption of sugary soft drinks. Start today for stronger bones tomorrow!

For more information, here is a link to the National Institute of Health, which gives general information on calcium: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-QuickFacts/

Submitted by Sarah Anderson and Ryan Milliken, PharmD Candidates,
LECOM School of Pharmacy Class of 2014
Students of Dr. Rebecca Miller Wise

Be Well, Be Wise,
Dr.Becky

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Dr. Rebecca Wise

Wise Words…. is a general medical information column from Dr Rebecca Wise. Dr. Wise has a master’s degree in education as well as her doctorate in pharmacy. She is an assistant professor and ambulatory care specialist at a Medication Therapy Management (MTM) clinic in Erie, PA.

Soon to be released is Dr Becky’s new website which will address women’s issues, watch for it: www.WiseWordsforWomen.com
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