Ask Dr. Mao, Calcium, Heart Disease and Nitric Oxide!

On Friday, October 30, 2009 Dr. Mao (Dr. Maoshing Ni) posted an article on Yahoo Health entitled “What Soft Drinks are Doing to Your Body.”  Dr. Mao posted some very good information and if you click on the above title it will link you to the actual article. 

Two particular items really stood out for me because they have HUGE RAMIFICATIONS for heart disease and your body’s ability to produce Nitric Oxide – the master signaling molecule for the cardiovascular system.  This is what Dr. Mao posted:

“Carbonation depletes calcium
Beverages with bubbles contain phosphoric acid, which can severely deplete the blood calcium levels; calcium is a key component of the bone matrix. With less concentration of calcium over a long time, it can lower deposition rates so that bone mass and density suffer. This means that drinking sodas and carbonated water increases your risk of osteoporosis.

Add in the caffeine usually present in soft drinks, and you are in for even more trouble. Caffeine can deplete the body’s calcium, in addition to stimulating your central nervous system and contributing to stress, a racing mind, and insomnia.”

Both phosphoric acid and caffeine have a direct effect on depleting the body’s calcium.  Dr. Mao relates this to increasing your risk for osteoporosis.  While this is true what he doesn’t talk about is how this directly affects your body’s ability to produce Nitric Oxide. 

There are many critical elements to your health and your body’s ability to produce Nitric Oxide is one of them.  Your endothelial cells produce Nitric Oxide from the essential amino acid L-arginine by the enzymatic action of Nitric Oxide Synthase or NOS.  The activity of the NOS enzymes are calcium dependent.  When phosphoric acid depletes blood calcium it directly affects the NOS enzymes’ ability to produce Nitric Oxide. 

Additionally, the NOS enzymes are pH dependent and work best in slightly alkaline (basic) conditions.  Phosphoric acid causes a change in pH to the acidic side.  This means that the phosphoric acid found in almost all dark colas causes a depletion of blood calcium and a change in blood pH.  These two factors directly affect the effectiveness and the efficiency of the NOS enzymes resulting in a decreased production of Nitric Oxide.  This has the potential to increase the risks for a wide range of health issues especially those related to the cardiovascular system. 

Two Additional Factors That Have a Nitric Oxide Connection!

Nitric Oxide is a very powerful free radicalWhen unregulated it can cause oxidative stress leading to tissue damage and death!  Your immune system uses Nitric Oxide to destroy pathogens.  As Dr. Mao points out one of the consequences of a large consumption of soft drinks is the depression of the immune system especially a decrease in white blood cell count.  This weakens your body’s ability to fight disease and elevates your risk for several types of cancer. 

Additionally, elevated blood glucose levels increase the formation of Advanced Glycation End products commonly referred to as AGEs.  As you age your structural proteins are damaged by a process known as glycation.  This process is an uncontrolled, non-enzymatic reaction between proteins and sugars to significantly alter the structure and function of proteins.  In this process a sugar molecule attaches itself to a protein molecule resulting in the formation of a non-functioning glycated protein structure.  Research over the last 20 years has implicated AGEs in most of the diseases associated with aging and in particular with atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis damages the vascular system especially the endothelial cells.  This damage reduces your body’s ability to properly produce Nitric Oxide.

Every time you consume a dark cola you’re creating an environment that can impact your body’s ability to produce Nitric Oxide.  Whether it is a reduction in available calcium, an acidic change in blood pH, or damage to the endothelial cells from Advanced Glycation End products, you risk loosing the positive impact Nitric Oxide can have on your cardiovascular health and your overall wellness.

The following articles from my website will provide you with some additional information about the negative impact dark colas can have on your overall health:

The Dark Cola Drink Versus Water!

Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Good or Bad for You?

How Advanced Glycation End Products Cause You to AGE!

I hope the information from Dr. Mao as well as the additional insights from this post and linked articles will help you understand how destructive soft drinks, especially dark colas, can be to your cardiovascular system and overall wellness.  If you found this information valuable, then please share it with others.

Together we can work to save a million lives!

Dan Hammer

The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam.  The information contain in this blogging website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.