A Bottleful of Health

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on February 11, 2003 · 1 comment

Energy drinks, sports drinks, vitamin water, herbal drinks…are they healthy? And do we need them?

“Functional drinks” — sports drinks, vitamin waters, energy drinks, herbal drinks — are the fastest growing drink category today. They make up 30% of all the drinks consumed in the US. But are they healthy? And do we need them?

On the plus side, the average person isn’t adequately hydrated, so drinking more fluids is a good thing.

On the minus side, many of these drinks are loaded with calories from sugar and corn syrup.

But what about the vitamins, minerals, soy, amino acids and herbs in the bottles? In most cases–especially for soy, amino acids and herbs—what’s in there isn’t enough to help you or hurt you. Vitamins and minerals are another issue. Some beverages contain little or none while other offer 100% or more of your daily requirement.

Do you need this? Not necessarily, if you eat a balanced and varied diet. Questionable, if you already take a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement. Harmful? Unlikely, even if you drink very large amounts. Helpful? That question hasn’t been answered.

Some things to think about if you use energy drinks:

  • Is your choice fortified with extra caffeine or guarana (a caffeine-containing herb)? If so, keep your intake below 300 mg a day.
  • Is your choice vitamin or mineral fortified? Go easy on the super-fortified drinks; stick with those that offer less than 100% of your daily need.
  • Does your energy drink have calories, mostly from sugar? If you work out for an hour and then drink 150 calories, it defeats the purpose of exercising.
  • Go easy on brands with kava. Canada has recently banned all products containing this herb, but the US is yet to act.
  • And, don’t underestimate the health punch in natural energy drinks, like orange juice.

For a listing of over 100 energy drinks, look for The Protein Counter, 2nd Ed., by Annette B. Natow and Jo-Ann Heslin, (Pocket Books, 2003).

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Misael November 20, 2015 at 4:37 am

I just went to Casino Niagara in canada and all you need right now to get in and out is a copy of your birth citiefrcate and a drivers liscense but i believe as of 2009 you will need a passport. And you can bring back stuff from canada we stopped at the duty free store before entering back into the us and bought like 10 bottles of liquor because it is a little cheaper the guard will ask you if you are bringing anything back and just tell him what you got and it should be no problem as long as you don’t try to get like 40 bottles of liquor and 30 cartons of smokes that would cause some problems.

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