A sports drink beverage is designed to help athletes rehydrate when fluids are depleted after training or competition. Electrolyte replacement promotes proper rehydration, which is important in delaying the onset of fatigue during exercise. As the primary fuel utilized by exercising muscle, carbohydrates are important in maintaining exercise and sport performance.
Water is the best beverage for simply rehydrating. However during exercise or just being outside on a hot day electrolytes are also lost. Consumption of excessive amounts of water can cause water intoxication, a potentially fatal imbalance of electrolytes in the body. Water intoxication is extremely rare. It might occur, for example, during intense exercise when heavy sweating removes water and electrolytes from the body, but only large quantities of water are consumed to replace what has been lost. The resulting low concentration of electrolytes adversely affects central nervous system function.
Many sports drinks reduce the risk of water intoxication by replenishing fluids and electrolytes in a ratio similar to that normally found in the human body. However, some sports drinks have low concentrations of electrolytes, so overconsumption of them could still lead to water intoxication. People whose work or exercise puts them at high risk of developing heat illness or water intoxication should seek professional advice about proper rehydration of the body.
While sipping on sports drinks all day may provide an energy boost, this popular practice is also exposing people to levels of acid that can cause tooth erosion and hypersensitivity, NYU dental researchers have found.
In a recent study, the researchers found that prolonged consumption of sports drinks may be linked to a condition known as erosive tooth wear, in which acids eat away the tooth's smooth hard enamel coating and trickle into the bonelike material underneath, causing the tooth to soften and weaken. The condition affects one in 15 Americans and can result in severe tooth damage and even tooth loss if left untreated.
"This is the first time that the citric acid in sports drinks has been linked to erosive tooth wear," said Dr. Mark Wolff, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Cariology & Comprehensive Care at New York University College of Dentistry, who led the study. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research in Miami.
Dr. Wolff's research team cut in half cow teeth, which were used for the study because of their close resemblance to human teeth. They immersed one half of the specimens in a sports drink, the other half in water, then compared the two halves and discovered that the one exposed to the sports drink displayed a significant amount of erosion and softening.
"Five teeth were immersed in each drink for 75 to 90 minutes to simulate the effects of sipping on sports drinks over the course of the day," Dr. Wolff said. The researchers evaluated the effects of a range of top-selling sports drinks on the cow teeth.