This is a great question. I think its important to look carefully at what it is that we consume on a daily basis, to make sure that it is really something we should (or shouldn’t) be consuming.
To answer this question, let’s first look a little deeper at Pedialyte.
What is Pedialyte and why do people use it?
There are several different options in the Pedialyte product line. We’ll look at the classic Pedialyte (though there are “advanced” formulations).
The ingredient list is as follows (per the Pedialyte website):
And less than 2% of:
- Citric Acid (a weak organic acid found in citrus fruits, acts as a preservative and also used to add sour flavor)
- Natural and Artificial Flavor (mystery)
- Potassium Citrate (widely used for various purposes, such as to help treat UTIs and kidney stones, gout, painful urination, and also as a good preservative)
- Sodium Citrate (very similar to the uses of potassium citrate, can be used to prevent gout or kidney stones)
- Sucralose (artificial sweetner and sugar substitute)
- Acesulfme Potassium (artificial sweetner)
- Zinc Gluconate (zinc salt of gluconic acid, frequently used to help treat the common cold)
- Yellow 6 (food dye)
What is Pedialyte used for?
As advertised, Pedialyte can prevent dehydration, and replace fluids, zinc and electrolytes. This product is one that is often recommended by pediatricians/nurses when a child (at least one year old) is struggling with an illness (such as vomiting, flu, fever, diarrhea) which is causing dehydration. It doesn’t do anything to prevent vomiting, fever, or diarrhea, but it does help treat and prevent the dehydration that can result from these conditions.
The bottle is marketed towards children (and is usually found in the baby/child section of the store, but is frequently also consumed by adults.
Why do adults use Pedialyte?
Adults often use Pedialyte for the same reason that we are parents would give it to children–to prevent dehydration as the result of fevers, flu, vomiting, diarrhea, and others.
Adults also use Pedialyte to assist with overcoming the hangover that results from consuming too much alcohol. Hangovers are caused to some degree by the dehydration that results from consuming alcoholic beverages, and Pedialyte can alleviate some of that discomfort (but not all).
Pedialyte doesn’t officially market its product as a hangover cure, but the company has started marketing an adult version of the product (a powder that you can dissolve into water), with the implication that it can be used to treat all of the various ways adults get dehydrated.
Funny enough, I’ve seen posts about Pedialyte in forums dedicated to music festivals as a way to help extend the prime party time (due to all the various things people do at said music festivals). I’ve also seen it talked about in fitness forums as an alternative to known sports drinks and products.
Many adults who use Pedialyte (rather than Gatorade, for example), do so because the drink contains less sugar than traditional sports drinks. But I also think that there is a perception that Pedialyte (given that it is often recommended by medical professionals) is better at helping with dehydration than Gatorade or even water when you are feeling bad or need hydration.
Alright, back to the question. Is it bad for me to drink Pedialyte every day?
Pedialyte isn’t formulated with the everyday sort of consumption in mind. But let’s look at the ingredients.
Of the listed ingredients in the Classic Pedialyte, most of the additives in addition to water and sugar and present in very small amounts (less than 2%.
We know that Yellow 6 has been connected potentially with cancer and food allergies (along with other commonly used food dyes), but I have to doubt that Yellow 6 is present is such a significant amount that you’d get cancer from drinking it daily. (source)
We also know that zinc gluconate (when used in the nose) has been connected with the loss of smell. (source) There are also some drugs that can interact or made less effective by zinc gluconate, such as blood thinners, antibiotics, and others. (source) Naturally like with any substance, this isn’t a substance you’d want to overdose on, but given the trace amounts of it in the product, it is highly unlikely that you’d be able to consume enough to OD or harm your current medications, but it is good to know about the risk.
Also keep in mind that Pedialyte is intended to replace lost electrolytes (lost by vomiting, diarrhea, etc). The drink aims to put them back, and if you haven’t lost them in the first place, you are going to be putting more of them into your body than you really need. Long term electrolyte imbalance can actually have some pretty serious symptoms (weakness, seizures, confusion, numbness, and others). (source)
In the short term, the main downside as I see it to Pedialyte is that it just contains a lot of sugar, including artificial sugars that I don’t like seeing put into their bodies. Most people don’t need all the sugar they are consuming. If you are drinking Pedialyte along with soda, sugary coffee, and eating food full of sugar, Pedialyte on top of that just doesn’t make sense.
In the long term, in general it seems unwise to consume a product without a really pressing need to do so.
All in all, it is better to consume water to prevent dehydration, and get your other electrolytes and salts the good old fashion way, through the foods you eat.
What about kids?
Like in anything, children are smaller than us, and as a result, the risk of over-doing it is greater. I would recommend that with kids, you stick to the instructions on the bottle or with the recommendations of their pediatrician. Given what is in the product, I don’t see any reason why children would need to consume Pedialyte on a daily basis unless they were ill or the pediatrician recommended it.
If the child just really likes the product, I would look for an alternative drink and not give in to constant demands for it.
Can you drink too much Pedialyte?
Just like anything, I think the answer is yes, you can drink too much. Pedialyte, just like any other food or drink that we consume, needs to be in balance. If you are consuming only Pedialyte, you cannot expect all of your nutritional needs to be taken care of. In fact, you might start to see your body exhibit signs that you are starving yourself (even though there are some calories in Pedialyte), like green liquidy poo and others.
Not to mention that consuming tons of Pedialyte on a daily basis would be really expensive.
Remember, you can harm yourself by consuming too much of anything. Salt. Food. Sugar. Even water. Everything needs to be in balance.
If you think you need Pedialyte daily…
I recommend that you confer with your doctor about it, so he/she knows and is on board with it. They can help you monitor your condition (whatever it is), and also provide suggestions/substitutions in the event that you aren’t getting the result that you are hoping for with the drink.
To sum up…
To answer the question, can you drink Pedialyte daily?, I say that I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a physical condition that you are consuming it for, that you are consuming it in reasonable amounts, and that you are doing so under the supervision of your doctor.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a full-time mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer screen when the kids are occupied or sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.