Is Pedialyte Good For You? An Ingredient Analysis

Is Pedialyte Good For You? An Ingredient Analysis


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Pedialyte is a popular hydration drink that’s available at nearly every major grocery store and pharmacy in the US. The brand claims that their drinks can prevent dehydration and help you "Feel Better Fast."

But what's in Pedialyte anyway? Are the ingredients good for you? Does the average consumer really need “hydration” drinks beyond regular water? And is the organic version of Pedialyte healthier?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in Pedialyte and Pedialyte Organic to give our take on whether or not the drinks are good for you.

We'll give our take on which version is a healthier option, and share our thoughts about why most individuals may not have a need for hydration beverages.

Pedialyte Classic Ingredient Analysis

Pedialyte Classic ingredients

The ingredients in the strawberry flavor of Pedialyte Classic are shown above.

Pedialyte Classic is arguably the brand's most popular product.

Sodium citratepotassium citrate and salt are electrolytes, and are the functional ingredients in this drink, combined with dextrose which is a simple sugar that provides rapidly-absorbed carbohydrates.

There are a number of ingredients in this formulation that we consider to be unhealthy.

Dextrose is a simple sugar that accounts for the 9 grams (g) of sugar in this drink. While sugar can help treat clinically dehydrated patients, we typically recommend avoiding added sugar for health reasons.

A medical review found that added sugar is associated with increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and many Americans already consume too much sugar in their diet.

Citric acid was shown in a medical review published in the Toxicology Reports journal to cause whole-body inflammation in a small subset of patients.

Red 40 and Blue 1 are artificial food dyes.

A 2012 medical review reported that Red 40 has been found to be contaminated with carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals).

The researchers in the above-linked medical review suggested that all artificial food dyes should be removed from foods and drinks due to toxicity concerns:

“The inadequacy of much of the testing and the evidence for carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, and hypersensitivity, coupled with the fact that dyes do not improve the safety or nutritional quality of foods, indicates that all of the currently used dyes should be removed from the food supply.”

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener which is clinically shown to negatively impact insulin sensitivity in healthy adults.

Acesulfame potassium is another artificial sweetener shown in clinical studies to cause negative changes to brain and gut function, as we referenced in our article on is MiO healthy.

Natural flavor is a broad descriptor, and a medical review published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal documented toxicity concerns regarding some natural flavoring agents and their metabolites.

Overall, we do not consider Pedialyte Classic to be good for you due to the inactive ingredients discussed above.

Is Pedialyte Organic Healthier?

Pedialyte Organic ingredients

The ingredients in Pedialyte Organic Crisp Lemon Berry flavor are shown above.

Organic apple juice concentrate is used for the sugar source, which we consider to be a healthier and less processed option than dextrose (which is still in this formulation but presumably at a lower dose).

Organic stevia leaf extract is a much healthier option than the sweeteners in other Pedialyte products. 

A 2020 meta-study found that stevia has anti-inflammatory and hypotensive (blood-pressure-reducing) properties, which suggests that it has a favorable effect on metabolism.

Organic citric acid is likely derived from citrus fruits like lemon (though we wish Pedialyte would clarify this), which would make it a healthier option than conventional citric acid which is often manufactured from a fungus called Aspergillus niger (potentially explaining its inflammatory effects in some consumers).

Organic flavor has a higher standard of ingredient safety and purity than natural flavor based on USDA guidelines.

This product is free of artificial coloring agents and preservatives.

We consider Pedialyte Organic to be a significantly healthier option than other Pedialyte products, and to be one of the healthiest electrolyte formulations in the US.

We don't currently recommend this product due to the inclusion of dextrose, and the lack of clarity on citric acid sourcing.

When Are Hydration Beverages Necessary?

The theory behind hydration beverages is that consumers can better retain fluid from a dehydrated state, and therefore restore optimal health, when carbohydrates and electrolytes like sodium and potassium are added to water. 

Medical research shows that electrolytes combined with carbs causes “increased fluid retention” compared to water alone.

However, our question is how many regular individuals achieve such a state of clinical dehydration that this type of special formulation is necessary?

We understand the benefit of specific hydration formulations in the context of dehydration, or during high-intensity athletic exercise, but we haven't come across any convincing clinical evidence that this type of formulation is beneficial for individuals who are hungover or performing moderate-to-low-intensity exercise.

Hospitals treat dehydration with IV fluids that contain electrolytes, and this medical resource page from Cedars-Sinai (a top hospital) suggests that individuals in hot weather or who sweat a lot during exercise are at increased risk of dehydration.

medical review published in the Nutrients journal concluded that hydration beverages containing glucose, fructose and sodium could improve athletic performance.

So individuals who are sick and dehydrated, or elite athletes performing high-intensity exercise may require supplemental electrolytes, but drinking water seems like the logical way to remain hydrated for most individuals. 

Our Clean Hydration Picks

Promix Electrolyte Drink Mix is our top electrolyte pick.

This product contains the electrolytes sodium (from Himalayan pink salt), potassium and magnesium.

Most importantly, there are no unhealthy additives or flavorings, making this the one of the cleanest electrolyte formulations that we've reviewed to date.

Pique Daily Radiance is our top flavor enhancing packet that can be added to water.

These packets are naturally flavored with nutritious ingredients like organic elderberry juice concentrate (which is clinically shown to support the immune system) and organic lemon juice concentrate.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

We do not consider Pedialyte to be good for you due to the additive ingredients like processed sugar, artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives and more.

Pedialyte can be more effective than water for treating clinical dehydration, but patients experiencing severe dehydration would likely be in a hospital or medical setting.

This type of product may support athletic performance in high-intensity settings, but we can't find convincing clinical evidence that low-to-moderate intensity exercise is supported by supplemental electrolytes and sugars.

We have not come across any clinical research suggesting that Pedialyte leads to improved health outcomes compared to water or whole food hydration drinks like coconut water.

For consumers intent on purchasing from Pedialyte, we think Pedialyte Organic has the brand's best formulation, as it's lower in processed sugar and is free of artificial food dye and artificial sweeteners.