Is Seltzer Water Bad for You?

Everyone knows that drinking water has its benefits. It helps keep you hydrated during workouts and keeps your body running smoothly. But what about seltzer water?

Is carbonated water good for you? Does it have the same benefits as non-carbonated water? Is seltzer water bad for your teeth?

Let’s pop open a can or a bottle and look at the pros and cons of seltzer water.

What Is Seltzer Water?

Seltzer water is a carbonated beverage that infuses plain water with carbon dioxide. This creates its signature bubbly or fizzy effect. You can also add fruit juice or other flavorings to seltzer water as a refreshing treat.

Seltzer water often gets lumped in with other carbonated beverages, such as:

  • Club soda
  • Sparkling water
  • Tonic

However, despite their shared characteristic of carbonation, these drinks differ from one another.

Club soda

Like seltzer water, club soda includes carbon dioxide. Unlike seltzer water, it also includes minerals like sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, disodium phosphate, and sodium chloride.

Sparkling water

Sparkling water is perhaps the closest relative of seltzer water. It includes dissolved solids such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium. Its bubbles are often natural, though you can add them artificially.


Tonic consists of seltzer water plus quinine or sugar for a sweeter taste. And the added sugar increases calories.

The Rise in Seltzer Water’s Popularity

In the past 10 years, seltzer water and sparkling water have become popular in the beverage industry, topping $4 billion in sales annually. Though it feels like a more modern invention, its history dates back to 1767 when Joseph Priestly invented it in England.

Around the same time in the 1760s, Native Americans in the United States believed that natural spring water had medicinal powers. It even helped treat injured soldiers during the Revolutionary War.

During the mid-20th century, carbonated water signified wealth and stature within the middle class. This was especially true if you had your own soda siphon to create bubbles from the comfort of your own home.

Up until the Second World War, seltzer water was known as soda water. It was available at soda fountains as an inexpensive treat for 2 cents with the option to add flavors for an additional penny. In the 1950s, seltzer water finally hit the American vernacular and started to grow in popularity.

Is Seltzer Water Bad for You?

Seltzer water is not bad for you. Seltzer water hydrates the same way non-carbonated water does. One big exception is that it doesn’t include the benefit of fluoride, which aids in preventing tooth decay. However, if you use tap water at home to create your own seltzer water, you can get the benefits of fluoride as well as the carbonation you love.

To get the same benefits as non-carbonated water, make sure you limit seltzer water that features sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, sodium, or artificial flavorings. If you can choose from club soda, sparkling water, or tonic, avoid tonic because it contains sugar flavoring.

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Side Effects of Seltzer Water

Though seltzer water is not bad for you, drinking too much of it can cause issues. Here are a few side effects to consider when you crack open a seltzer:

  • Bloating. Gas in the water can cause your stomach to puff out.
  • Burping. Again, the gas in the water can cause your stomach to expand, which can make you belch.
  • Diarrhea. That fizz on your tongue might feel great, but it won’t feel as good in your gastrointestinal tract.
  • Intestinal discomfort. Excess seltzer water or carbonated beverages can harm your gut. It is good practice to avoid carbonated beverages if you have irritable bowel syndrome or experience gastrointestinal issues often. Talk to your doctor if this is an issue for you.

Is Carbonated Water Good for You?

Yes, carbonated water has many of the same benefits as non-carbonated water. It also has its own benefits, such as:

  • Making you feel fuller to aid in weight loss.
  • Helping with digestion by stimulating the nerves you use to eat.
  • Helping those who people prefer seltzer water to regular water stay hydrated.

Is Seltzer Bad for Your Teeth?

Seltzer water is not bad for your teeth, even though it has an acidic quality that plain water doesn’t. If your teeth are a concern, you should drink other beverages and limit yourself to one seltzer a day.

And if you enjoy more than one seltzer water per day, you could always brush your teeth ahead of time with fluoride. This can ensure your teeth are getting the nutrients they need.

The benefit of fluoride is the main difference between non-carbonated water and seltzer water. The risk of dental damage to your teeth from seltzer water is minimal as long as you limit your sugar intake in these beverages. If you’re concerned about your teeth, create your own carbonated water at home with tap water to get that boost of fluoride.

How to Select the Best Carbonated Water

Now that you know the benefits of seltzer water, here are some tips for choosing the best carbonated water for you:

  • Opt for sparkling water or seltzer water over club soda if you want to limit sodium.
  • Remember that unflavored and unsweetened seltzer water is the option that is most like non-carbonated water.
  • Add fruit juice to your seltzer water to infuse your beverage with natural flavors.

Seltzer water is a refreshing beverage that can also ensure you are staying hydrated. If you are looking to see how seltzer water could fit into your diet and lifestyle, talk to your doctor. You can also schedule an appointment with a dietitian from UPMC Outpatient Nutrition Services.

Christina Caron. Is Carbonated Water Just as Healthy as Still Water? The New York Times. Link

Hannah Jeon and Alyssa Jung. Is Sparkling Water Good for You? Experts Weigh In. Good Housekeeping. Link

Seltzer Nation. The History of Seltzer Water. Link

About UPMC

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