Sparkling water contains dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, which makes the water fizzy. The carbonation of sparkling water can occur naturally or artificially.

Sparkling or carbonated water forms naturally when volcanic gases dissolve in springs or wells of natural water. This naturally occurring sparkling water often contains minerals such as sodium or calcium.

To artificially carbonate water, pressurized CO2 is injected into the water, forming bubbles. Artificially carbonated water may naturally contain minerals, or it may have minerals added to it.

There has been some debate regarding the health implications of sparkling water. Read on to discover the possible risks of drinking sparkling water and how it compares to other carbonated drinks.

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Water is an essential resource that all people need to live. A person cannot survive without water, as it is required for many processes within the body. However, certain properties of sparkling water may be associated with health risks.

Learn more about the benefits of drinking water here.

Calcium loss

There are theories that carbonated beverages can cause calcium loss in bones. Researchers believe that phosphorus, which is present in some sodas, reduces the amount of calcium that the body can absorb. According to a study in 2006, cola beverages are associated with low bone mineral density in women.

However, carbonated water does not contain phosphorus. In addition, most people get sufficient phosphorus from food, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, certain carbonated mineral waters can help improve bone health. The organization notes that carbonated drinks should not take the place of calcium-rich beverages, such as milk.

Tooth decay

Sparkling water, whether natural or artificial, contains CO2, which makes it slightly acidic. Acid in food and drinks can erode the hard protective layer of the tooth, known as the enamel.

In a 2017 study, researchers found that artificially carbonated water eroded tooth enamel in a laboratory setting. The erosion of enamel increased when the water had higher levels of carbonation.

In addition, certain sparkling waters may have citric acid added to them to enhance the flavor. Citric acid can also increase the acidity of the carbonated water, which can lead to erosion. The addition of sugar in some carbonated water also increases the erosion effect on enamel.

A person may be able to limit the eroding effect of carbonated water by drinking through a straw. Doing so can prevent the sparkling water from touching the teeth, as it moves more directly into the throat.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Although carbonated water does not cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), its consumption may cause a person’s symptoms to flare up, and people should avoid carbonated water and other carbonated drinks, according to research.

Weight gain

There are conflicting studies on the effect of sparkling water on weight gain.

A study from Japan found that drinking carbonated water led to feelings of fullness in young females. However, the study was small and offered no data on the effects of drinking carbonated water among males.

Sparkling water does not lead to weight gain, as it contains zero calories. However, when other ingredients are added, such as sweeteners, sugar, and flavor enhancers, the beverage may then contain sodium and extra calories — usually 10 calories or less. However, calories associated with sparkling water will not generally lead to weight gain, even over time.

There is some research suggesting carbonated water can increase ghrelin, which is a hunger hormone. These findings were in an animal study, and the results have not been corroborated in human studies.

When compared to other drinks, carbonated water can be seen as a healthier alternative. Plain carbonated water consists of water and CO2, meaning there are no added sugars, sweeteners, or artificial flavorings. Sparkling water hydrates the body in the same way as plain water.

Comparatively, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these drinks contain sugar in the following quantities:

Drink (12 ounce serving)Teaspoons of sugarCalories
Tap or bottled water00
Unsweetened tea00
Sports drink275
Sweet tea8.5120
Fruit punch11.5195
Root beer11.5170
Orange soda13210

A person who drinks sugary beverages regularly may be at risk of certain health conditions, such as:

The CDC state that sugary drinks are the primary source of added sugars in the American diet. They also note that, on a given day between 2011 and 2014, 63% of youths drank a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB), averaging 143 calories. In the same period, 49% of all U.S. adults consumed an SSB, averaging 145 calories.

Information from the CDC suggests that adults and adolescents are more likely to drink sugary beverages if they also:

  • smoke
  • do not get enough sleep
  • do not get enough exercise
  • eat fast food regularly
  • do not eat fruit regularly

A person who would like to add some healthy flavor or sweetness to their sparkling water can try:

  • adding a few slices of cucumber or citrus fruit
  • adding a splash of 100% fruit juice, such as pomegranate
  • putting in a few blueberries or strawberries
  • adding some mint leaves
  • mixing in some chunks of watermelon or mango

Adding healthy fruits, vegetables, or herbs to their water means a person gets additional benefits from their vitamins and minerals.

Sparkling water can occur naturally or be created artificially.

Sparkling water does not cause calcium loss, but it may contribute to tooth decay. Carbonated water may also cause flare-ups of IBS symptoms. More studies are required to understand the effect of sparkling water on weight gain.

Carbonated water is a healthier alternative to sugary drinks. A person can add fruits, vegetables, or herbs to sparkling water to gain additional flavor and health benefits.