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Is Diet Mountain Dew Bad For You?



Short answer

Diet Mountain Dew is a popular caffeinated carbonated soft drink that is loaded with aspartame, artificial coloring, preservatives, has no mineral or vitamin content and no nutritional value.



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Long answer

One of the most toxic ingredients in diet Mountain Dew is aspartame.  This artificial sweetener has been linked to multiple serious health challenges. 

Recent studies have shown that artificial sweeteners actually increase weight gain. They fail to satisfy cravings and often intensify hunger. Aspartame consists of aspartic acid and phenylalanine, which when broken down in the system produces methanol, which can be toxic in high amounts. Metabolites from methanol can be the cause of central nervous system depression and other disorders that lead to metabolic acidosis and coma.

Aspartame has been used as an artificial sweetener since the 1980’s and is currently found in thousands of products. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in food and beverages as a substitute for sugar with the recommended daily intake of 50 milligrams per every kilogram of body weight. In the late 1990’s, products containing aspartame were the focus of 80% of complaints about food additives to the FDA. Since the onset of its use in the United States, its safety in regards to consumption has been highly controversial.

Aspartame has been linked to numerous hazardous side effects including a greater risk of birth defects in women who consume aspartame while pregnant. Aspartame has also been linked to certain cancers (there has been a 300% increase in brain cancers since its release as well as increases in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia).  Aspartame is also associated with seizures, headaches, dizziness, weight gain, extreme fatigue, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, lupus, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, general musculoskeletal pain and multiple sclerosis. The side effects attributed to aspartame can occur gradually over time or can be acute reactions to the chemical. Immediate reactions can include trouble with vision and eyes, ringing in the ears, heart palpitations and shortness of breath.

Caffeine is a major ingredient in diet Mountain Dew. A 12oz can of diet Mountain dew contain 54 grams of caffeine.  Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. When it reaches the brain a feeling of immediate alertness is apparent. Depending on an individual’s sensitivity, caffeine has been linked to insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, gastrointestinal upset, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and increase in respiratory rate. Though coffee is typically much stronger in caffeine content, Mountain Dew products are the second highest caffeinated soft drinks, after Pepsi.

Another detrimental additive in diet Mountain Dew is EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid). Although deemed safe by the FDA this chelating agent (which binds heavy metals in the system) has been linked to a plethora of health issues. EDTA is a chemical created from the combination of formaldehyde, sodium cyanide, and ethylene diamine. This poison is added to many sodas, processed foods including sandwich spreads, salad dressings, sauces and numerous canned or pickled foods. The purpose is to increase shelf life by preventing rancidity, discoloration, and the separation of oils and fats.

EDTA has various side effects including depletion of important metals/vitamins, hypotension, headaches, migraines, abdominal discomfort, and the lowering of blood sugar. More troubling is the long-term risks of toxicity and kidney damage. An additional concern is attributed to the unknown side effects of the possible build up in the body over time. As a whole, people are using more artificially preserved items now than ever before in history. The collective overuse of many toxic and carcinogenic chemicals create a problem for researchers in ascertaining which destructive substances are responsible for specific long-term side effects.

Additional nasty ingredients in diet Mountain Dew are potassium and sodium benzoate.  These chemicals are used as preservatives but serious health effects have been associated with these toxins. These effects include hyperactivity, dizziness, insomnia, DNA damage and significant neurologic disease such as Parkinson’s.

When combined with vitamin C, potassium and sodium benzoate can form benzene, a known carcinogen. Vitamin C is a necessary part of our diet and is found in many fruit and vegetables. Because of the presence of these preservatives in salad dressings, sodas, and fruit juice, it is almost inevitable that this combination will occur in most people’s diets. Other factors that can affect the rate at which benzene is formed in benzoate containing foods include heat, light and shelf life.

If you eat and drink foods containing these ingredients often, you can be at risk for various benzene health consequences. Long-term exposure can cause bone marrow to not be able to produce new red blood cells properly, which can lead to anemia. The blood cell changes also affect white blood cell loss and decrease antibodies, which together means a less active and stable immune system. You get further exposure to benzene from tobacco smoke, gasoline fumes, glue, paint, furniture waxes, and detergent.

Diet Mountain Dew also contains the unnecessary toxic artificial color of Yellow 5 which is what gives Mountain Dew its famous yellow color. These dangerous food dyes make unappealing food or beverages look more enticing.  They have been found to cause hyperactivity in healthy children and carry allergy and cancer  risks as well. The FDA approves the use of these dyes in foods and beverages despite the fact that many European companies have discontinued using them.

In 2015, Kraft removed Yellow dyes #5 and #6 from its popular orange macaroni and cheese dinner in favor of natural coloring agents like paprika and annatto.  Hopefully more American food and beverage manufacturers will follow suit.

Last but not least is the ingredient brominated vegetable oil.  This oil is used as an emulsifier to keep the Mountain Dew flavoring from separating and floating to the top. This oil is bonded to the toxic element bromine.  Bromines are known as endocrine disruptors and animal studies have found that it can cause reproductive and behavioral problems. Bromine can act as a central nervous system depressant and trigger psychological and psychotic symptoms.

Due to the toxic ingredients in this beverage it would be best to avoid it and look for some of the organic all natural soda options. 

Possible short-term side effects

  • headache
  • allergic reaction
  • hyperactivity (especially in children)
  • formation of benzene when combined with vitamin c
  • visual problems
  • ringing in the ears
  • heart palpitations and shortness of breath

Possible long-term side effects

  • damage to the neurological system
  • endocrine disruption
  • liver problems
  • behavioral problems
  • musculoskeletal disease
  • depletion of important metals/vitamins
  • headaches and migraines
  • kidney damage
  • metabolic syndrome-elevated blood sugar, elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • higher risk of birth defects in pregnant women
  • increased risk of dna damage and cancer
  • weakened immune system
  • bone marrow problems

Ingredients to be aware of


  • none from a health stand point

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Zevia Zero Calorie Soda

  • No calories
  • Sugar-free
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Mountain Zevia flavor
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Dr. Becky Maes
Published on: 04-28-2016
Last updated: 11-30-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Dr. Becky Maes
Published on: 04-28-2016
Last updated: 11-30-2023

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