Can a beverage change your mood or improve your health?
Consumers appear to be buying into the idea. The popularity of Vitaminwater and other vitamin-enhanced beverages bolsters this point. In 2006, Glaceau -- the company that makes Vitaminwater -- earned $350 million in revenues.
Hoping to capitalize on this healthy beverage trend, a slew of new drinks takes it a step further, not just claiming to enhance your general well being, but targeting specific areas of health for improvement.
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A look at the drink label finds that the beverages have 1500 milligrams of glucosamine, a dietary supplement. The website for the product says that "research indicates that taking 1500 mg of glucosamine daily can help give your joint cartilage what it needs to stay healthy and improve joint function and mobility."
It goes on to say that "With daily use you can see results in as little as four to eight weeks*."
What is that asterisk all about?
Follow the footnote to the very bottom of the page and there is a tiny disclaimer:
"These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."
Huh? So why should you drink one every day? Isn't that a contradiction?
"The Institute of Medicine has not made a recommendation on glucosamine. While there may be a few studies that suggest glucosamine could be helpful to joints... We do not have a preponderance of evidence that glucosamine is effective," Clemens said.
"The jury is still out on taking glucosamine for joint health," he said.
Of even greater concern to Clemens are drinks like Drank, which calls itself an "Extreme Relaxation Beverage," and is being marketed as the anti-Red Bull and the anti-dote to an over-caffeinated culture.
Drank's calming ingredients include melatonin, valerian root and rose hips. Melatonin is a hormone that is used to treat insomnia. Valerian root is a Chinese medicinal herb that has been used as a sedative. The makers of Drank say it helps people to relax, calm down and maybe even get better sleep.
However, the dosage of these ingredients is not on the label. Once again, the drink has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety.
The drink in the purple can, which is sold at 7-Elevens, is being pitched as an alternative to alcohol; however, some say the name "Drank" is associated with a slang term for "purple drank," an illegal drink in the hip-hop scene that mixes codeine syrups with soft drinks or alcohol.
"It's the sedative effect of this combination of ingredients that I find that troubling," Clemens said. "If kids are using this drink paired with alcohol, they are taking a risk of falling asleep at the wheel. We do not know the consequences of this combination. It would be a cocktail for concern."