Do Electrolyte Drinks Even Work? We Ask the Doctor Who Wrote the Book on Hydration Health

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We always glaze over whenever scanning a grocery or vitamin store’s aisles of hydration drinks. These soft drinks, powders and water-soluble tablets are supposed to contain special nutrients to make you feel better, but they always seem to be named things like Trounce or Dominate, and since we’re not running an Ironman Marathon any time soon, they aren’t for us, right?

Wrong, according to health professionals and new products in this growing category of electrolyte drinks. These water additives are meant for all of us, everyday people who are potentially among the estimated 75 percent of Americans suffering from dehydration, a condition which contributes to problems in energy levels, cognition and more. We learned more from Dr. Dana Cohen, a Manhattan-based integrative medical doctor and co-author of Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration.

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What Are Electrolytes?

Basically, they are minerals that carry an electrical charge, explains Dr. Cohen. Electrolytes are any of various mineral ions—such as sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), chloride (Cl-) or magnesium (Mg+)—required by cells to regulate the electric charge and flow of water molecules across the cell membrane. These minerals are responsible for directing water to those areas of the body that need it, down to the level of keeping cells themselves hydrated.

What Can Electrolyte Drinks Do for the Body?

“Electrolytes help remineralize the body,” says Dr. Cohen. “Our foods today unfortunately are not as nutritious (due to over farming, processing, etc) and electrolyte drinks are great additions to get those extra minerals.” In Cohen’s medical practice she reports that, after adding electrolytes to their diet, “patients note improved energy and stamina, better workouts, less brain fog, improved cognition,” she says. “Another one I hear all the time is they are finally able to quench their thirst...meaning they are better hydrated.”

Here are our picks for 11 drinks to help you get positively dewy inside and out.

best electrolyte drinks olly

1. olly Immunity + Electrolytes Powder

Want to ward off the common cold with your hydration? Mix in this zingy peach-citrus flavored powder to your tap water: It includes five electrolytes as well as a blend of immunity power players vitamin C, D, and Zinc.

Ten packets

best electrolyte drinks cure

2. cure Starter Kit

The formula of these powders is based on the World Health Organization’s Oral Rehydration Solution (which includes sodium, potassium and chloride). Here those elements are jazzed up with organic ingredients including coconut water powder, a hint of stevia and fruit flavors berry pomegranate, lemon and grapefruit. The starter kit has two of each flavor.

8 packets

best elecrolyte drinks nuum

3. Nuun Complete Pack Sport, Vitamins, Immunity, And Rest Hydration Drink Tablets

Want a portable hydration mixer that's not going to tear open and spread powder everywhere? These little dissolvable tablets are easy to just pop into a water bottle on-the-go. And they come in light fruit flavors that are fortified with vitamins to support your immunity, sleep, sports performance or overall health.

42 tablets

best electrolyte drinks gnarly

4. gnarly Nutrition, Hydrate Electrolyte Powder With B Vitamins And Trace Minerals To Support Workouts, Orange Pineapple

This drink sponsors the ultramarathons of Vacation Races, which means that people hardcore enough to run 50 miles through a national park find it thirst-quenching. We do, too, since we enjoyed the flavor of the orange-pineapple and ruby red grapefruit flavors in this low-sugar, vitamin-enhanced electrolyte beverage. The 14.10-ounce bag is enough for 40 servings.

best electrolyte drinks aquahydrate

5. aquahydrate Water Alkaline

Prefer your hydration more straightforward? This ready-to-chug water comes in a one-gallon jug and claims to have twice the regular concentration of electrolytes as the market’s leading electrolyte water, and has a pH of 9+, without the chalky taste of many alkaline waters.

best electrolyte drinks caliwater

6. Caliwater Organic Nopal Cactus Water With Rare Antioxidants + Electrolytes

Vanessa Hudgens is one of the investors behind this water, which has 300 mg of vitamin C-rich prickly pear cactus in every can. It’s 25 calories a can, unlike most waters in this category which have next to no calories, but we’re allowing that for sweet lovers who will notice the extra bump of stevia flavor. Wild prickly pair and ginger lime flavors are in the starter collection, which we appreciate being marketed, in addition to a hydration drink on its own, as both a low-calorie cocktail mixer and a hangover remedy.

4 cans

best electrolyte drinks roar

7. Roar Organic Electrolyte Infusions Beverage

“I feel so much better when I drink this, I’m not dehydrated, my dizziness has gotten better and I have kicked my diet soda habit," says one reviewer. "Everything I want in a drink.” Low calorie, lightly sweetened, electrolytes, no aspartame or sucralose, with B vitamins for an afternoon boost. The mango clementine flavor is a nice variation on the usual citrus leanings of these drinks.

12 bottles

best electrolyte drinks bala

8. bala Enzyme Electrolyte Powder Packets

With added enzymes from pineapple, papaya and on-trend superfood turmeric, this hydration powder seeks to help relieve muscle soreness and joint inflammation as a result of everyday activity. The enzymes also address gut health, so this does more than just hydrate you.

10 pack

best electrolyte drinks citrus burst
Plant Fuel

9. plant Fuel Daily Immunity And Hydration Drink

With zero added sugar but boosted by marine algae trace minerals, this five-calorie water additive isn’t too sweet, but has a crisp citrus flavor.

15 sticks

best electrolyte drinks sos

10. sos Hydration Citrus Organic Electrolyte Hydration Powder Mix

Company founder Dr. Blanca Lizaola-Mayo cautions not only vigorous exercisers, but also anyone who lives in a heated home in winter, about dehydration. “The indoor heat not only dries out your skin, but it can impact your fluid intake and lead to dehydration,” she says. The formula contains potassium, magnesium, citrate, chloride, sugars and zinc, and has a low-sugar, Keto-friendly sweetness, in the variety pack: berry, mango, lemon-lime and watermelon.

10 packets

best electrolyte drinks shinewater

11. flavored Drink With Vitamin D, Antioxidant Beverage, Zero Sugar

Distributed by Anheuser Busch, consider this Big Water’s latest splashy entry into the electrolyte beverage category. It comes in six flavors including kiwi cucumber, peach mango and pomegranate grape and has calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc, is infused with vitamin D, and has only 20 calories.

12 bottles

dana dickey
Dana Dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...
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