Typical sports drinks ingredients – Are they healthy for children?

    In the 1960s, sports drinks showed up and developed quickly in the beverage showcase. These types are perfect for athletes to recharge their batteries. Moreover, they are now in widespread use for different ages.
    However, various parents wonder whether they are healthy for their children. As a result, this post will provide you with blow-by-blow sports drinks ingredients to help you make a good decision before purchasing these products.
    sports drinks ingredients

    What are sports drinks?

    Sports drinks or electrolyte drinks belong to functional beverages categories. Many athletes use these types to replace electrolytes, energy, and water lost during the competition, hard workouts, and long-term training.
    Electrolytes are minerals, including calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which help the body maintain an outstanding balance of fluids at the correct level. When you sweat, you will lose electrolytes, which makes you feel tired quickly.
    In addition, sports drinks can restore carbohydrates, the essential factor that your body uses during all workout stages. They usually include carbohydrates in minerals, sugar, protein, caffeine, vitamins, and electrolytes.
    Nowadays, some well-known brands for sports drinks are Powerade, Accelerade, and Gatorade. Most companies have unique ingredients to upgrade their reputation in the beverage market. However, let’s check out some main sports drinks ingredients in typical commercials.

    Sports drinks are functional beverages to replace water, energy, and electrolytes

    Sports drinks are functional beverages to replace water, energy, and electrolytes

    Top typical sports drinks ingredients

    Before buying any sports drinks products, it pays to consider their specific and typical ingredients. This way will help you to understand thoroughly and decide whether to purchase these kinds for your children or not with ease.

    Carbonated water

    Sports drinks are water with carbon dioxide (CO2) dispersed in it. They are acidic with a standard pH of 3 to 4, which won’t affect your stomach much with proper use. Moreover, carbonated water replaces hydration, which is a vital element for strenuous workouts.
    Carbonated water

    Carbonated water replaces water lost during a long workout


    Different producers use various sweeteners to form sports drinks. Some main types are sugar, maltodextrin, and fructose. These drinks are also high in sugar syrup and may include up to 60g of sugar. In general, they can affect the exhaustion of glycogen in your muscles. Meanwhile, carbohydrates are always the principal glucose origin for working muscles.
    Sugar is the primary sweetening agent in sports drinks

    Sugar is the primary sweetening agent in sports drinks


    During a long workout, your body will lose a lot of minerals when you sweat. Therefore, sports drinks contain some essential electrolytes to help you recharge energy quickly.
    The most typical electrolytes in sports drinks ingredients are sodium chloride. This factor is potassium chloride and common salt.  Potassium chloride is a non-toxic substance and has no measurable impact on the body within the amounts consumed in sports drinks. However, it can irritate your eyes; therefore, try and drink your beverage in your mouth.
    In a word, electrolytes will assist you in keeping fluid in the body, which boosts your performance. Additionally, they play a significant role in muscle compression.
    Mostly, you can find some items that producers regard to add few and proper amounts of salt to protect users’ health because of the high risk of creating other different diseases.
    Electrolytes recharge your battery quickly


    B-complex vitamins are the most typical ingredients for all types of sports items. It provides you with total energy to bring out the most incredible stamina and performance.
    Vitamin B-complex brings out excellent energy to boost performance

    Vitamin B-complex brings out excellent energy to boost performance

    Potassium sorbate

    Potassium sorbate is a chemical additive widely added as a preservative in drinks, foods, and personal care items. It is an unsavory and odorless salt synthetically manufactured from potassium hydroxide and sorbic acid.
    Potassium sorbate inhibits the development of micro-organisms, including yeasts, mold, and fungi. It is regarded as a non-toxic additive and has no measurable impact on the body in the amount consumed in sports drinks.
    However, several users may have an allergic reaction to this potassium sorbate in drinks and foods. Some of the rare side effects are eyes and skin irritation.


    Other sports drinks ingredients are antioxidants, including vitamin C, E, and A, green tea extract, and selenium assist you in keeping your body and mind healthy. These antioxidants also give you the remarkable ability to protect cells from free radical harm.
    Antioxidants bring healthy cells and mind

    Antioxidants bring healthy cells and mind

    Citric acid

    Citric acid is a typical food additive, which is a gentle acid naturally originated from citrus fruits. It is usually used in different drinks to add flavor. Noticeably, this acid is vital for a metabolic line named the Krebs cycle, which is necessary for energy output.
    Nevertheless, the amounts in sports drinks are significantly low, which may have little impact on the body. Thus, the central role of citric acid is to add flavor.
    Citric acid boosts high energy and adds more flavors

    Citric acid boosts high energy and adds more flavors

    Sunset yellow

    Sports drinks usually include different colors, mainly sunset yellow. This color factor has been linked to hyperactive conduct in children. Therefore, there is rising concern about its impact on nerve cells.
    The proof of its counter-health effects is so convincing that some manufacturers limit its amount to protect users’ health. Noticeably, several countries prohibit this color agent.

    Sodium bisulphite (Sodium bisulfite)

    Sodium bisulfite is used to prevent bacteria from developing and preserve color and flavor. The wine beverage industry usually uses this chemical mixture to maintain the taste of wines.
    Moreover, it is a food additive considered more toxic than a chemical additive, potassium sorbate. Some allergic users can’t bear the effect of this agent. If overused, it may lead to nausea,  stomach cramps, trigger asthma, and diarrhea.
    Nevertheless, the amount of sodium bisulfite in sports drinks is prone to be lower than in other drinks, which doesn’t affect users’ health much.


    Caffeine is one of the most popular components in the beverage industry. It is derived from about 600 drinks such as energy drinks, coffee, teas, and sodas.
    It offers a feeling of freshness, alertness to boost productivity. Sports drinks include less caffeine than a standard cup of coffee, which consists of about 55 mg of caffeine. The level of caffeine will vary depending on the manufacturers.

    Caffeine is a widespread ingredient to increase energy

    Caffeine is a widespread ingredient to increase energy

    Lactic acid

    Lactic acid plays a vital role in producing muscles during anaerobic respiration with the acute workout. Nevertheless, these sports drinks ingredients function as an acidity regulator.
    Lactic acid is produced from natural fermentation procedures, which is a popular food additive. Moreover, it is naturally developed in the body without any side effects.


    1.      Are sports drinks safe for children and teenagers?

    Some brands of sports drinks are safe to use because they add electrolytes and vitamins (A, C, E). Minerals like sodium and carbohydrates also boost performance.
    However, Health Canada suggests that children and teenagers not take sports drinks. The primary reason is that the typical sports drinks ingredients are caffeine, sodium bisulfite, potassium sorbate, and sugar. They can cause health problems in children and teenagers, such as sleep troubles, diabetes, and high blood pressure issues. They may result in dental issues due to high levels of sugar if overused.
    Therefore, the best method for children and teenagers to gain energy is to follow a healthy and balanced diet. Getting sufficient sleep will assist them in leveling up power.

    2.     What are some benefits of using sports drinks?

    You will benefit from using sports drinks when you sweat during a long and intense workout for about 40 minutes, especially in hot weather. For instance, athletes in long-distance events use sports drinks to replace electrolytes and water.
    In addition, sports drinks can include sugars and restore carbohydrates, which the body uses while exercising. They also add calories to help you boost performance.

    3.    How much should we take sports drinks?

    The frequency of using sports drinks will depend on your workout level, the amount of sweat, and the weather condition. Many users will meet their fluid demands by following these hints:

    • Up to 3 hours before playing any sport, slowly drink around 5 to 6 mL per kilogram of body weight. This amount is about 2 cups of sports drinks or water. Depending on your weight, you can change the amount correctly.
    • If there is no urine in the next 3 hours or it turns dark in color, it is best to slowly take another 1/2 cup of sports drinks or water.

    Out of these tips, it is advisable to begin drinking sports drinks soon while practicing an extended exercise to replace the water and electrolytes lost through sweating.
    You may want to use sports drinks frequently if you sweat so much, wear heavy sports equipment such as football or hockey, and play extreme sports under the hot weather.


    Although sports drinks are ideal for athletes, they are not suitable for children and teenagers. Water is always the best option before, during, and after exercising.
    Meanwhile, some typical sports drinks ingredients such as antioxidants, vitamins, and electrolytes are the rich energy source for those who have a long workout under hot or humid weather.

    Tan Do is a global beverage ODM/OEM manufacturer and supplier located in Vietnam. Since 1996, we have built trust and credibility not only throughout Vietnam but also in many parts of the world. Leveraging state-of-the-art technology, we have crafted thousands of products that align with ISO, HACCP, HALAL, FDA, and many other standards.

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    Lilian Nguyen
    Hi! I'm Lilian Nguyen. I'm an expert in OEM, ODM, private label beverage industry with 8 years of experience. I believe that it is crucial for companies to focus on the benefits which the product provides to their target customer and what does it mean to the community. When i am not working, i run a blog on making healthy snacks & drinks and join in a hiking club. I'm an expert in the beverage industry invited by Tan Do Beverage to work. I'm in charge of publishing articles, research articles on the beverage industry or anything healthy to help readers have a better view of what they are looking to do, prepare to do or are doing related to the beverage industry. Email: lilian.nguyen@tdfood.com.vn

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