Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD
Liquid IV is an electrolyte powder company which makes a somewhat comically unscientific claim that their products “multiply hydration”. The company sells a variety of powder drink mixes with different stated benefits, like energy and sleep.
In this article we’ll explain why there is no such thing as a “hydration multiplier”, and review some of the Liquid IV formulations including Hydration, Energy, and Sleep.
Ridiculous Health Claims
To understand why Liquid IV’s claim of hydration multiplication makes no sense, we have to first overview what hydration is.
Hydration is simply the process of drinking water, or consuming water-containing foods like fresh fruit, to replace that lost during the day and maintain proper biological function.
There is no way to “multiply” hydration, and not even an explanation of what that would entail on Liquid IV’s site; it’s pseudoscientific marketing babble.
Liquid IV’s formulation is rooted in a formulation to rapidly rehydrate patients with severe dehydration, usually caused by diarrhea, in impoverished countries called Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS). They even state this on their blog.
Liquid IV then links to a medical study from 1994 proving that ORS was effective for patients with cholera.
If you don’t have cholera or severe diarrhea, we haven’t come across any medical evidence at all as to why you would need ORS. Liquid IV doesn’t publish any, so we can assume the entire premise behind their company is flawed. Regular, healthy people should not have a need for a formulation made for those with severe dehydration or illness.
Liquid IV’s blog post on ORS also states that “A little-known fact about the human body is that we can drink all the water we want, but very little of that water actually gets absorbed and used by the body.”
This is not true, and has no source or citation because it’s just made up nonsense. Liquid IV is claiming that humans have somehow been drinking water wrong for our entire existence.
Humans have evolved for millions of years hydrating just fine from water and food without sugary electrolyte powders.
Liquid IV Hydration Review
Hydration is the name of Liquid IV’s core product.
The first ingredient is 11 g of sugar, and Liquid IV Hydration also includes salt and potassium for electrolytes. We know from medical research that dietary sugar intake (in excess) is harmful for human health, and outside of extreme dehydration conditions, sugar has no beneficial effect on hydration.
We don’t believe it’s beneficial for people to be consuming packets with 11 g in processed sugar regularly. Isolated cane sugar has zero nutritional value.
Liquid IV Hydration has seemingly random amounts of vitamins added, including Vitamin C and Vitamin B12. We haven’t seen any research suggesting that vitamin supplementation affects hydration status, and Liquid IV doesn’t publish any.
Their explainer blog post simply states that “We’ve added Vitamins B and C for an extra wellness boost”. If these vitamins have no impact on hydration then why are they added to a hydration formula? The statements from this company are incredibly unscientific and baseless.
Overall we can’t give this product a bad enough review. It’s overpriced sugar water with no proof of efficacy for regular people. We recommend consumers drink regular water for hydration.
Liquid IV Energy Review
Liquid IV Energy has a very similar formulation to Liquid IV Hydration.
Matcha tea is one ingredient which is different, but no dosage is given on Amazon or on their website so we can’t determine whether this is effectively dosed. We find it to be unethical, and almost certainly against FDA labeling guidelines, when a company doesn’t publish the dose of an ingredient. For all we know there could be one single flake of matcha powder in this product.
We believe matcha is an ineffective ingredient for an energy formulation regardless, because it’s primarily used for the exact opposite effect: relaxation. Matcha tea is high in an amino acid called l theanine, which induces relaxation based on medical research.
Liquid IV Energy also has guayusa extract, which is proven to have a stimulatory effect based on medical literature, but we can’t determine if it will be effective in this product since Liquid IV doesn’t publish the dosage.
A high dose of sugar, which this product contains, can also provide energy short-term, but is an ineffective and unhealthy long-term source of energy in our opinion.
Liquid IV Energy also contains ground ginger. We haven’t seen any research suggesting this is effective for energy, and Liquid IV doesn’t publish any so we will conclude this is an ineffective ingredient.
Even their description of ginger under the “Liquid IV Energy Blend” header on their site just says that ginger “supports healthy digestion.” That’s fine but doesn’t explain at all why it would be in an energy supplement. This company’s formulators are incompetent.
Overall we would not recommend this product. It’s ineffectively formulated, has no published doses of active ingredients, and contains a relatively high amount of added sugar.
Liquid IV Sleep Review
Liquid IV sells a sleep product called Sleep Multiplier.
It contains less added sugar per serving (4 g) than the other two products reviewed, so it’s already superior on that front.
This product has three active ingredients in a proprietary “Sleep Blend”: valerian root extract, l-theanine and melatonin.
Valerian root extract (which is incorrectly spelled as “velarian” on their Nutrition Facts label), was found to be a safe and effective sleep aid in a medical review. Unfortunately the amount in Liquid IV Sleep appears to be underdosed at 175 mg. An Examine review of valerian which surveyed several medical studies concluded that the effective dose of valerian is 450 mg.
L theanine is typically used for anxiety and not sleep. We can’t find any medical studies suggesting it’s effective for sleep at 50 mg, which is the dose in Liquid IV Sleep. We’ll assume this is also underdosed.
Melatonin is an effective sleep aid, and is one of the most well studied supplements for sleep. 3 mg of melatonin should be effective.
In our opinion the only effectively dosed ingredient in this formulation is melatonin, and it can be acquired in a much cheaper and healthier format by taking it alone and not in a sugary powder with a bunch of other unnecessary ingredients.
We would not recommend this product, and would alternatively recommend melatonin supplementation alone for people looking for a natural and nontoxic sleep aid.
We believe that Liquid IV makes ridiculous marketing claims, which mostly aren't backed by science, to help their products stand out. There is no such thing as a “hydration multiplier”, and there is no established benefit for regular people to take this product compared with just drinking water.
In fact, these products are almost certainly less healthy than drinking water alone, due to the added sugar.
The only medically proven benefit of a product like this is for severe dehydration or diarrhea, so perhaps consider Liquid IV if you’re suffering with chronic diarrhea but otherwise we see no point in wasting money on any of their products.
Liquid IV formulations are generally ineffective, underdosed, backed by unproven health claims and contain significant added sugar.
We don’t recommend any products from this brand, and genuinely can’t find any reason people would see benefit from these products outside of extreme, rare circumstances.