Sports Drinks for Kids: A Perfect Refresher or Perfectly Inadequate?


Do your kids gulp Gatorade on the soccer field? Pound Powerade after a baseball game or running around outside with their friends? It’s not an uncommon sight, but that doesn’t mean it’s still OK.

A new report in the journal Pediatrics says there’s a risk kids are getting an inadequate amount of calcium and vitamin D in their diets, and too many sports drinks are one of the contributing factors.

The research highlighted the differences between energy drinks that contain stimulants and sports drinks that are loaded with carbohydrates and electrolytes, and said there is a time and place for each, but that for kids, the time is either never or very limited, respectively.

“The biggest danger is probably the displacement of adequate sources of calcium and vitamin D in the diet,” said Dr. Stephen Cook, assistant professor of pediatrics at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y. “These beverages are replacing milk, especially the very crucial time of immense bone growth and development.”

Drinks like Gatorade are OK if combined with water after “prolonged, vigorous activity when they need to quickly replenish electrolytes,” but the recommendation is for kids to drink water exclusively before, during and after sports if they’re thirsty.

Energy drinks are never recommended for kids and adolescents, according to the findings, as stimulants in energy drinks can be especially dangerous during intense exercise, according to ABC News.

Sports drinks should also never be consumed with meals, and on a daily basis, an 8-ounce maximum is suggested.

The report’s authors also say despite the heavy pitches to kids about how these drinks contain amino acids that help promote muscle recovery, there’s no science to back up some of the claims.

Do your kids love energy and sports drinks? Does this study make you think different about them, or will you keep pouring them for your family?

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