Is Seltzer Water Bad for You?

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

There’s a lot to love about seltzer: those refreshing bubbles, its ability to calm an upset stomach, and the satiety it gives you, despite an instant craving for more — not to mention the many flavors in which it is sold. It’s no wonder some carbonated waters reach cult status. Apparently, however, there’s a lot to hate about seltzer, too — at least if you’re a fan of “normal” water.

Naturally, a debate has sprung between the opposing water camps, because if seltzer-lovers are out there proselytizing, then the other side has to defend itself, too. However, those who defend still water aren’t preaching its benefits. Instead, they’re spreading rumors in an all-out offensive on its bubbly opposition. So today, I’m defending my stance and quelling the attack. Here are a few myths about seltzer that just aren’t true.

1. Seltzer rots teeth.

It certainly does not. Studies have shown that unflavored carbonated drinks — free of any artificial additives — are perfectly non-threatening. It’s true that carbonated beverages are more acidic than still water, but this doesn’t have the same effect as sugary sodas, a family of drinks with which seltzer is unfairly associated. Sugar erodes teeth; carbonic acid does not. If you’re the least bit concerned, just get some fluoride toothpaste and you’ll be more than fine.

2. It’s not as hydrating as “normal” water.

No, nothing is added to the water (other than carbonic acid, which creates the bubbles, and nothing more). No calories. No sugar. No caffeine. No conspiracy theories.

3. It degrades your stomach lining.

Negative. Again, seltzer is not soda! If you stick with unflavored seltzer, you have nothing to worry about. The added carbonic acid will make you feel gassy, so yeah, you might have to pass a little gas if you’re suddenly feeling bloated, but once that has subsided, you’re ready for another can of not-unhealthy seltzer!

Also, don’t confuse seltzer’s effects with that of Alka-Seltzer: The latter is a remedial tablet that contains citric acid and sodium hydrogen carbonate, as well as aspirin. When citric acid and sodium hydrogen carbonate mix with water, they work to decrease the acid levels in the stomach. In other words, there’s a lot happening down there when you take Alka-Seltzer, but when it’s just seltzer water at play, the only real concern is temporary bloating.

4. It strips your bones of calcium.

Nope! There’s an assumption that people who drink a lot of cola lessen their bone density because cola contains phosphoric acid, which creates an imbalance of calcium. However, seltzer is not cola (I say again!), and the real correlation may be that people who drink high volumes of anything other than milk get less calcium because they are likely consuming less milk than other people. Basically, drink plenty of milk. Or take calcium supplements — and chase them with seltzer.

5. It has healing powers.

As much as I want this to be true, seltzer, even the naturally occurring stuff, probably doesn’t have curative powers — aside from its ability to settle your aching tummy, that is. But that’s not a detractor! Sparkling spring water does have a host of minerals that are great for you: sodium, which assists bowel functions; manganese, which promotes skin elasticity and hydration, assists in brain functions, and helps you metabolize fats and proteins; magnesium, which helps you sleep better, assists digestive functions, and sharpens the brain’s functions over the spine; calcium, which is a natural antacid, strengthens bones, and regulates heart rate; and potassium, which assists numerous bodily functions. While it might not be a miracle worker, as once deemed by Aztecs and Brits alike, it’s certainly not bad for you.