Still water v carbonated water?

I drink a LOT of sparkling water. Is it just as good for me as regular water?

OK, I admit, this question is from me, Daily News health reporter Tracy Miller. I've lately developed a bit of a SodaStream, shall we say, reliance. I've always been a water drinker, but since the home carbonator came into my life I find regular old still water just doesn't have the same...spark. Some days, I drink far more carbonated water than I do the regular kind.

It doesn't help that suddenly all my friends seem to have a SodaStream. "Regular or sparkling?" they'll ask, gesturing to their new toy. Um, sparkling! Did you even have to ask?

Sparkling water is often cited as one of those healthy drinks you're supposed to switch to when you quit sugary soda. It's sugar-free and calorie-free, and it hydrates. Still, murky rumors abound online about its potential health drawbacks, including that it erodes tooth enamel, saps calcium from the bones, and leads to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). And, I wondered, what if you drink a lot of it? Is ingesting all that carbonation really good for us?

I reached out to two nutrition experts for their take.

The news was good: We're used to thinking of bubbly drinks as being bad for us - hello, soda - but carbonated water is basically harmless.

"If somebody doesn't like the taste of water, they shouldn't be concerned if sparkling is all they're drinking," said Manhattan-based nutritionist Keri Gans, RDN, CND. "Sparkling water is just as hydrating. All it is is added carbonation."

Concerns about calcium depletion don't hold much weight, Gans added. "The conclusion is that carbonation does not do that. Other ingredients in soda may do that, but carbonation does not."

Kristi King, MPH, RDN, a senior clinical dietitian at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, agreed.

"There's a myth out there about [carbonation] leaching calcium from the bones, especially with sodas, but the research is just not there," King said.

The same goes for eroding tooth enamel: "Usually any tooth erosion comes from beverages that are sugar-sweetened in conjunction with carbonation, which tend to be highly acidic. Carbonated water is not going to be nearly as acidic," King said.
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