Are designer drinks really effective?

LOS ANGELES "If I really thought something did something for me, I'd buy it," said Inesa Figueroa.

Designer drinks promise something for whatever ails you.

"If you need more energy for a workout, you grab the high-energy. If you need detox, you grab detox. So there's something that fits everything," said Sadie Murray, a Skinny Water spokesperson.

Skinny Water's zero-calorie, zero-sugar beverages are infused with vitamins, minerals, herbs and more.

But do they do anything more than hydrate? It's hard to tell.

"We know that it works, because people keep on buying it," said Murray.

Function Drinks Urban Detox and Light Weight are both popular. Urban Detox uses prickly pear cactus extract and N-acetyl cysteine which they claim act as smog scrubbers and hangover helpers.

Light Weight has a proprietary blend of ingredients intended to halt hunger and boost metabolism.

Experts confirm that these ingredients have merit, but the drinks are not without criticism.

"Look, if there is an amazing product out there that absolutely delivered on weight loss, number one, I might be involved in supporting it, and number two, we will be helping the obesity epidemic in America and everybody would be on that," said dietitian Ashely Koff.

Like many dietitians, Koff urges eating real, whole foods to get nutrients and is concerned because there's a growing population of kids who love these drinks.

"These things are not sold with a 'PG-13 'or a rated 'R,'" said Koff, who wishes they were.

Liquid vitamins and minerals are one thing, but with many people taking antidepressants, heart medications and more, Koff says adding extras in undisclosed amounts could cause potentially harmful interactions.

Keep in mind that these beverages fall into the food category. They're not drugs, so there's very little government regulation. There is no real scrutinizing on how much or how little of the ingredients are actually in there.

Public health expert Chris Noonan says while these drinks may contain the ingredients as advertised, most fail to provide enough of the active ingredients to be effective, which is often a gram or more.

"For the most part, companies default to putting a lower dosage into the product, so that they can save the taste at the expense of the efficacy. Getting one gram of any ingredient so the beverage still tastes palatable is quite an accomplishment," said Noonan.

For weight loss, Noonan lists three that do: Neuro Culture's Neuro Trim, Dr. Pepper's Venom Energy and Skinny Water's Crave Control; although the latter has the stipulation of having to drink three per day.

"All of this depends on your own existing metabolism. It depends on how active you are. By no means do we claim to drink a bottle of this and sort of your weight worries could go away," said Josh Simon of Function Drinks.

Noonan says that beverages containing at least 50 milligrams of L-theanine, an element of green tea that has some very solid evidence for relaxation, can actually be effective.

He found some of the drinks are offering proper quantities of this ingredient since 50 milligrams is more easily achieved than the one-gram dose needed for some other functions.

Some beverages with the L-theanine ingredient are: Gatorade Tiger Focus, Sobe's LifeWater and NeuroBliss.

Function Drink's Vacation beverage might contain the ingredient, but their proprietary blend does not reveal amounts, so the message is unclear.

You can review the above beverages on their Web sites.

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