Current trends in beverages interfere with vitamins

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The proportion of sugar individuals consume in their beverages is a strong predictor of whether they will be able to meet vitamin and mineral recommendations for their daily diet.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – While sugared beverages might appear to be a cheap source of energy, their costs may be higher than once thought.

Michael Finke and Laura Reynolds, environmental scientists, recently found that sugared beverage consumption reduces an individual’s ability to meet the daily recommended level of vitamins and minerals, such as A, E, C, B6, B12, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, niacin and phosphorus, by replacing the more healthful alternatives that typically contain these nutrients.

Sugar consumption. According to Finke, the proportion of sugar individuals consume in their beverages is a strong predictor of whether they will be able to meet vitamin and mineral recommendations for their daily diet.

“One of the greatest changes we’ve seen in the American diet in the past 20 years is the type of beverages we choose to consume,” Finke said.

“For example, as recently as the 1970s, milk was consumed twice as much as soft drinks, but now our consumption of sugared beverages exceeds milk consumption.”

Significant relationship. Reynolds and Finke’s study is the first to show a significant relationship between sugared drinks and recommended daily allowances.

While these drinks serve as a cheap source of food energy, they are void of vitamins, and often take the place of foods and drinks rich in nutrients.

Although an increase in sweetened drink consumption reduces the intake of all vitamins and minerals, Finke found that the impact was greatest on calcium and folate consumption.

“Previous studies have shown that consumption of corn sweeteners, the primary source of sugars for most of these sweetened beverages, has increased from 19.1 pounds to 82.2 pounds per year between 1970 and 1997,” Finke said.

Pack the punch. “As consumers, we need to learn to pick the food products and beverages that pack the most nutrient-rich punch. Sweetened beverages appear not to be the best choice.”

Although sweetened beverages are the second cheapest source of food energy among major food categories, Finke said that it might be worthwhile for consumers to spend a little more on foods that contain the nutrients necessary to stay healthy.

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