You may have seen some recent media coverage of a clinical report on energy drinks and sports drinks.  And if you’re interested in our perspective on the report, you can read our response. But today, we want to take the opportunity to share some facts about sports drinks.

First, it’s important to point out that while water is a perfectly good choice for normal hydration purposes, sports drinks can provide additional benefits for anyone who is exercising or exposed to high temperatures – including children. Why?  Because in addition to providing much-needed hydration, they also can replenish electrolytes, which are salts found in the body fluid, tissue and blood that are lost during exercise or in the heat.  Common electrolytes include sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

In fact, aside from athletics, there are times when the added benefits of sports drinks can be beneficial. For example, today in the District of Columbia (like many of our readers in various parts of the country), we are experiencing a bit of a heat wave.  Just a short while ago, the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency sent out an alert to subscribers on protective actions for heat.  Among many helpful tips, they advised combating dehydration by “drinking plenty of water along with sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes.” And for those who work outdoors during the warm weather – whether professionally, such as in construction, or in your spare time tackling the garden or mowing the lawn – sports drinks can help you stay hydrated and reduce muscle cramping.

Second, it is a misperception that sports drinks are high in sodium. On average, sports drinks contain only 50 to 100 milligrams of sodium per serving. In fact, most sports drinks qualify as a low-sodium food according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s definitions for sodium health claims.  Did you know that an 8 ounce serving of a sports drink has a similar sodium content to a cup of 2 percent milk?

Finally, as with many beverages, sports drinks can have calories.  However, due to industry innovation, there is a wide variety of options from which to choose. Due to industry innovation, lower-calorie versions of sports drinks are now available for consumers who want nutrients and electrolytes, but fewer calories.  After all, we know that when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, what matters most is balancing calories consumed from all foods and beverages with those burned through exercise.

Whatever beverage you choose for you and your family, remember that, as with all foods and beverages, the key is moderation.  You can find out more about all of our industry’s beverages by visiting our Products Issue Site.