Is Liquid I.V. Good for You?

A nutritionist weighs in to help you determine whether the self-proclaimed "hydration multiplier" is right for you.

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September 23, 2022

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The market for products to promote hydration has exploded in recent years. With so many options to choose from, confusion is understandable. Liquid I.V. remains one of the most popular products around, but can mixing those tiny packets of powder with water really multiply your hydration?

Hydration Basics

Adequate hydration is a cornerstone to maintaining health. Daily doses of fluid and electrolytes from foods and beverages help ensure proper metabolism, temperature control, digestion, immune health and muscle function. Those that exercise regularly and with physically demanding occupations have increased hydration needs to compensate for the additional loss of fluid and electrolytes from sweat. Baseline fluid recommendations are based on one cup-servings – with women needing nine cups per day and men requiring 13 cups. In addition to fluid, the body also needs several electrolytes including sodium, potassium and chloride, which are the most plentiful minerals lost in sweat. Specific recommendations for these nutrients vary depending on age, gender and lifestyle.

What’s in Liquid I.V.?

The original Liquid I.V. formulation includes sugar, electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and stevia, as well as Vitamins C, B3, B5, B6 and B12. Each serving (one stick combined with 16 fluid ounces of water) offers up 45 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 500 milligrams of sodium and 380 milligrams of potassium. A same-sized serving of sports drink contains far fewer electrolytes, averaging 200 milligrams of sodium and 65 milligrams of potassium. Adding that much additional sodium to your water bottle is likely not necessary for the average person and may aggravate blood pressure in those who are sensitive to high amounts of sodium. Since the average American is already over consuming salt, sipping that much should be avoided.

Liquid I.V. claims to deliver fast hydration via Cellular Transport Technology or CTT – a term the company uses to explain that when water is combined with sodium, potassium and glucose, it enhances absorption. While the physiology is impressive, it isn’t new. The use of sodium and sugar to enhance water absorption has been substantiated by research and is effective with lower doses of sodium.

Liquid I.V. also makes several different “multiplier” varieties including “Energy” made with caffeine and other stimulants, “Immunity” with zinc and “Sleep” with valerian root and melatonin. These ingredients carry risks for causing side effects and some may even interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications. These formulations also have varying amounts of electrolytes plus the addition of other vitamins and minerals.

Bottom Line: Know what you’re drinking. The various options for Liquid I.V. are all different and therefore carry different risks. Regardless of which Liquid I.V. product you choose, the hefty doses of sodium may be excessive.

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