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Is Phosphoric Acid in Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Phosphoric acid is a source of the phosphate ion, which your body cells need in order to maintain proper function. Ironically, however, the phosphoric acid you get from sodas -- while it's a source of phosphate -- can damage the enamel on your teeth. This is not good for your dental health.

According to the Linus Pauling Institute, phosphorus is one of the minerals your body needs in order to maintain normal function. Phosphate, which is a combination of phosphorus and oxygen, serves many structural and functional purposes in the cells. For instance, you use phosphates to help maintain the proper acidity inside the cell. Phosphates also show up in your genetic material, and you need them to produce the molecules that your cells use for energy.

While you need phosphates -- and you get them by eating them -- you don't need to supplement with them, as they're ubiquitous in foods. Further, while you can get phosphates from phosphoric acid, the acid has additional chemical properties that aren't healthy. According to LiveScience.com, phosphoric acid breaks down the enamel that coats your teeth. This makes you more susceptible to cavities, and can also lead to loss of tooth mass.

There aren't other proven negative health effects associated with consumption of phosphoric acid, but if you're prone to acid reflux, it's possible that acidic foods could make your reflux worse. If you find that you experience more significant symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn when you consume soda, you should probably avoid it. Taking an antacid isn't the best solution, since while it will help with the heartburn, it won't prevent the damage that phosphoric acid does to your teeth.

Instead of consuming sodas that are high in phosphoric acid, consume cold drinks that aren't as likely to damage your teeth. Most sparkling waters don't contain phosphoric acid, and you can mix them with a small amount of juice for a refreshing fizzy -- and phosphoric acid-free -- beverage. You can also try non-carbonated beverages, including iced tea and plain water with a bit of lemon. Ask your dentist for tooth-friendly suggestions that will help to quench your thirst without putting your enamel at risk.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.