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Jennifer Heisler, RN

What do Leg Cramps, Soda Pop, Osteoporosis and Surgery Have in Common? Hint: It Isn't Potassium

By June 13, 2008

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According to some recent studies, calcium is the common denominator between leg cramps, cola drinks, bone loss and the subsequent need for surgery after a brittle bone breaks.

How do they fit together? Well, soda contains phosphoric acid, a substance that can, according to some studies, decrease the level of calcium in the body. One of the first signs of low calcium is leg cramps. Osteoporosis, the medical term for weak and brittle bones, is a very late (too late!) sign of too little calcium. Osteoporosis leads to fragile bones, and fragile bones break easily, which can lead to surgery to fix broken hips and other broken bones.

Whew, that was a lot of information. What does this really mean for you? Get more calcium, from food, drink or supplements, especially if you like to drink lots of cola drinks. If you have leg cramps, tell your doctor, and don't make the "my high school coach said leg cramps mean low potassium eat a banana" mistake. Calcium is the primary culprit.

Women are especially susceptible to osteoporosis, which can be prevented in most cases by adequate calcium in the diet and regular weight-bearing exercise.

Remember, calcium today may mean preventing surgery tomorrow.

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