Crisp, refreshing, effervescent soda has long been an American favorite but not for its nutritional value. According to University of the Sciences in Philadelphia's Ara DerMarderosian, PhD, professor of pharmacognosy, a few leading soft drink companies are trying to change the public's perception of soda by adding vitamins to their soft drinks. With March noted as National Nutrition month, it is a good time for consumers to beware that the perceived benefits of vitamins in soda can be deceiving.
'The shelf life and stability of vitamins in soda is low,' said Dr. DerMarderosian. 'Carbonated drinks are mildly acidic, and water-soluble vitamins will break down over time.'
Several sodas are being marketing which contain vitamins and minerals such as Niacin (vitamin B3), vitamins B6, B12, zinc, and magnesium. But unlike encapsulated vitamins, which are designed to have prolonged shelf lives and precise nutritional values, it is uncertain how long water-soluble vitamins will last in soda.
According to Dr. DerMarderosian, vitamins in soda will break down at a faster rate when the beverage is not refrigerated. Since the journey from production to the customer can be lengthy, it is likely that the vitamin values listed on the side of the can or bottle are significantly lower by the time the soda is consumed. Moreover, he added that the vitamin concentrations in sodas are usually minute, and certainly not high enough to make soda the sole source. 'If you're trying to get your vitamins from soda you'll probably spend a lot of money, and still not get significant amounts,' he said.
So how can you get these vitamins and minerals in your daily diet? 'Make your own healthy drinks from scratch, like orange juice or green tea,' recommended Dr. DerMarderosian. 'And eat fruits and vegetables along with a variety of meats and fish which contain the essential nutrients you need to reach the recommended daily values.'