I have an anecdotal answer, backed up by information from a Harvard educated nutritionalist, does that count?
After having a full roux en Y gastric bypass, sugar can make me very sick. It’s a phenomenon usually referred to as “dumping syndrome.” The portion of your intestine that normally absorbs the majority of your fat and sugar is bypassed (thus the term gastric bypass). So for reasons not completly understood, too much sugar or fat makes me and many weight loss surgery patients…well…pukey. When the sugar or excess fat hits my system I get shakey, nauseous, dizzy, my nose starts running, and the only “cure” is to curl up in bed and wait it out. It’s gross.
My body doesn’t distinguish between the sugar I get from a cookie and the sugar I get from a glass of orange juice. Fruit juices or even an overdose of grapes produce the same disgusting effect. The nutritionist I dealt with before and after surgery informed me that there are the same amount of calories in ANY kind of sugar…fructose or cane or whatever.
Additionally, the same nutritionist referred to sodas as “industrial waste.” There are other things in them besides sugar like the artificial coloring and flavoring that are at best not GOOD for you and at worst, potentially detrimental to your health in large quantities. Some studies show that the carbonation can be a problem (it’s certainly a problem if you’re stomach is the size of a walnut and it could be a problem for others as well…it could keep you from utilizing vitamins and minerals you take in around the same time you drink the soda).
The bio-availability of nutrients in pill form varies by individual also. There’s no good way to tell if you’re absorbing the stuff in those pills or not. If you’re already absorbtion-compromised like I am your best bet is to get your nutrients from your food as best you can and supplement for added protection. If you’re NOT only absorbing some of your calories this is still the best bet according to the aforementioned expert on the subject.
So, to summarize:
Soda + vitamin pill: Sugary, useless crap that has no redeeming nutritional value and a pill that you may or may not absorb.
Glass of juice: Sugary, but if that’s not a problem for you, you may absorb the nutrients better.