Originally, tonic water was used for the delivery of quinine, which is a drug that fights malaria. Quinine comes from South American cinchona tree bark. During the early 1800’s, a British military officer stationed in India invented the gin and tonic, after realizing that the alcohol made the medicine more tolerable.
Summer is a time for warm day foods and clear liquor beverages. Tonic water is effervescent and has a bitter taste, which makes it a perfect partner with gin for summer alcoholic drinks.
But wait – excessive drinking of alcohol is bad for your health, so does that mean that tonic water is also bad for you? Basically, it just depends on the type of tonic water, its nutritional content, its ingredients and how much you drink.
What Is Tonic Water?
Tonic water is a carbonated soft drink, which includes quinine, as we have noted. It is often used with other drinks, including gin. The quinine content in tonic water is much lower than it was when the drink was used as a cure for malaria.
The name “tonic” in tonic water comes from its medicinal effects. Quinine is responsible for them. Quinine alone is quite bitter, but the addition of tonic water gives it a more interesting flavor. Tonic water is sweeter and more diluted, so it works well for mixing with vodka or gin.
Nutritional Values of Tonic Water
You need to understand the nutrient values of tonic water before you decide if it’s worth the ingestion of quinine. Here is the nutritional content in tonic water:
Amount per 100 Grams
0 grams of fat
0 mg of cholesterol
12 mg of sodium
0 grams of dietary fiber
0 grams of protein
9 grams of carbohydrates
9 grams of sugar
Zero percent of daily requirement of vitamins
Zero percent of daily requirement of calcium
Zero percent of daily requirement of iron
Zero percent of daily requirement for magnesium
Can Tonic Water be Bad for You?
One glass of tonic water has about 20 milligrams (mg) of quinine. As long as you only drink tonic water occasionally, it is probably not bad for your health. There are some cases where it may not be healthy for you. Below, we’ll cover when it might be bad, when it’s good and whether or not it may cause you to gain weight.
When Is Tonic Water Bad for You?
Tonic water can have a negative impact on your health if you’re allergic to it. You might be allergic to the quinine. Symptoms that may develop include rashes, hives and tongue and mouth swelling, which can make it difficult to breathe.
It has also caused stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting in some people. Adverse skin reactions have been reported.
Drinking too much tonic water is not healthy. Over-consuming it may cause you to become hyperactive and restless. If you drink tonic water excessively, along with alcohol, the side effects may be more severe. It’s not recommended to use tonic water to resolve cramps. You would have to drink a lot of it, and this isn’t healthy.
Tonic water may cause side effects and interfere with medications. Be sure you don’t drink tonic water if you are taking blood thinners. Pregnant or lactating women need to avoid tonic water, too. It can cause serious complications.
When is Tonic Water Safe to Drink?
Now that you know when NOT to drink tonic water, when can you safely drink it? It is assumed safe if you’ve been a tonic water drinker for a long time, without noting any health concerns associated with it, as long as you don’t drink too much.
Quinine is only found in small quantities, so it is not usually a threat, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not banned it. If you’ve never had much tonic water, you may want to check with your physician before you try it.
Can Tonic Water cause Weight Gain?
Tonic water includes nine grams of sugar, and it’s almost all high fructose corn syrup. This is not a good choice if you want to lose or maintain weight. If you gain too much weight, you may become more prone to health issues, including cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Regular, Diet & Slimline Tonic Water
Now that you know what tonic water is, and when it’s good or bad for you to drink, let’s check on the different kinds of tonic water available.
- Regular Tonic Water
The basic tonic water can is 12 fluid ounces, and has 124 calories. It is sometimes consumed instead of bottled water, soda and cola drinks. Tonic water calories come from sugars and sweetening agents. Each can has 32 grams of carbohydrates.
- Diet Tonic Water
This is quite simply tonic water without the calories. The claim is that one 12 ounce can of tonic water does not contain any calories. It is sweetened with artificial sweeteners, which, while not adding calories, also do not make it any more nutritious to drink.
- Slimline Tonic Water
This is similar to drinking diet tonic water. It offers the same taste through the use of artificial sweeteners. Since it doesn’t have any calories, you may drink or mix tonic water with other types of drinks.
Slimline tonic water can be helpful in weight loss, since it contains no calories. Weight loss will reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. There have been very few side effects associated with slimline tonic water.