Bad grades for drinks with added benefits

Drinks with advertised added value do not keep what they promise. In some cases, the alleged saviors even turn out to be potentially harmful to health. This is the result of a nationwide market analysis of the consumer centers of so-called functional drinks, which promises by the accumulation of various active substances, an increase in health, vitality or power. The drinks give the impression that one would only have to access to be healthy, ever young or vital. In some cases, exactly the opposite can happen.

As part of the investigation of the consumer centers, 238 ACE drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, probiotic milk drinks, breakfast drinks, vitamin drinks, wellness drinks and waters with various active substances were purchased and evaluated in six federal states. In total, the drinks contain more than 100 different added active substances (up to 13 per drink), from apple cider vinegar and aloe vera to St. John's wort, kombucha, vitamins and lemongrass.

Some products promise miracles. The range of claims ranges from "True Health Elixir", "Source of Eternal Youth", "Path to Long Life" to "The Omega-3 Fatty Acid DHA Needs Your Body Every Day" or "More Calcium and Magnesium for Muscle Function". ACE juices, for example, are advertised with statements like "Schütz Dich" or "high doses for your health".

Further results of the market survey

  • Most statements only relate to the potential effect of the added substance, but not to the overall effect of the drink.
  • In the case of energy drinks, almost all providers ignore the recommendations of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) to warn against unwanted side effects during extensive exercise or in combination with alcohol.
  • In the case of nutrition labeling, in some cases simply incorrect information is provided, for example by an incorrect number or an incorrect unit of measurement.
  • In addition, ingredients are highlighted that are contained in the product only in traces or as an aroma. For example, a grape-papaya drink contains just 0.5% fruit juice.

"The exaggerated representations of health-promoting effects of the various ingredients usually lack any scientific basis, " said Angela Clausen, nutrition officer of the consumer center North Rhine-Westphalia.

Beware of enrichment with beta-carotene

Even worse: in some cases, the products could even lead to damage to your health. Especially problematic is the enrichment with beta-carotene. Studies have shown that beta-carotene in isolated form can be harmful to the health of even heavy smokers and those with cardiovascular disease, with a daily intake as low as 20 milligrams. "Even otherwise, the added amounts do not reveal a nutritional science concept, " says Clausen. As an example, she cites a double vitamin B12 children's drink at the recommended daily intake for adults in 100 milliliters.

No less problematic is the use of medicinal plants. "Either they are present in small amounts and then neither useful nor harmful or higher doses a hard-to-calculate risk." The results of the study show an urgent need for action. From the point of view of vzbv, fortifications of foods may only be made if there is a recognizable health benefit associated therewith.

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