Are there indications of PFAS “forever chemicals” and/or fluoride inside your favorite powdered electrolytes? Mamavation community members asked us these questions about their favorite electrolyte products to protect their families from the potential health impacts of these chemicals. We didn’t know the answer because no independent studies have been published on this category, so we sent several products off to an EPA-certified lab to find out. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you other PFAS consumer studies like best yoga pants without PFAS in the crotch, safest sports bras without PFAS, and safest soft contact lenses, now join us for our latest consumer study on indications of PFAS and/or fluoride in powdered electrolytes.
Disclosure: This consumer study is released in partnership with Environmental Health News. Scientific reviews were performed by (1) Terrence Collins, Teresa Heinz Professor of Green Chemistry & Director of the Institute for Green Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, (2) Linda S. Birnbaum, Scientist Emeritus and Former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program & Scholar at Residence at Duke University, North Carolina University, & Yale University, (3) Pete Myers, Chief Scientist at Environmental Health Sciences, Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, and Co-Author of Our Stolen Future, & (4) Scott Belcher, Associate Professor with the Center for Environmental & Health Effects of PFAS at North Carolina State University. This post was medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. Donations were provided by Environmental Health News and Mamavation community members. This post contains affiliate links.
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Mamavation’s Lab Finds Indications of PFAS “Forever Chemicals” or Fluoride Inside Powdered Electrolytes
Mamavation’s laboratory found indications of PFAS “forever chemicals” and/or fluoride inside popular powdered electrolytes. So what are electrolytes and why are they important? Your body depends on the perfect ratio of salts and minerals to keep your nerve, heart, and muscle functions happy. Electrolytes are essential to balance those levels that help your body function and are essentially charged metallic “ions” that balance the pressure inside our cells and the pH balance of our blood.
Mamavation community members asked us whether there were any indications of PFAS “forever chemicals” or fluoride within powdered electrolytes, so we sent 40 recommended products off to our EPA-certified lab to find out. PFAS “forever chemicals” are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances used for many decades as stain-resistant, oil-resistant, & water-resistant chemicals in commerce. PFAS is found in many areas of our lives with some examples being makeup, drinking water, & dental floss. These chemicals are linked to serious health effects. Because they are so toxic, Mamavation has commissioned our own consumer studies on indications of PFAS in order to make consumer recommendations for which electrolyte products are the safest.
For this consumer study, Mamavation sent 40 different electrolyte products from 30 brands off to an EPA-certified laboratory looking for indications of toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” and/or fluoride.
Here’s what our EPA-certified laboratory found with a detection limit of 10 parts per million (ppm):
- 23% of electrolyte products sent to our EPA-certified laboratory had indications of toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” and/or fluoride.
- 9 electrolyte products out of 40 products sent to the lab were found to have detections of total fluorine, a marker for PFAS “forever chemicals” & fluoride.
- Ranges of total fluorine reported by the lab were from 10 to 112 parts per million (ppm). 10 ppm is the detection limit.
- All products that had a detection were either repeat tested or another product was tested so we could see how consistent the detections were.
- We were not able to do any testing of liquid electrolyte drinks because of the limitations of the testing.
Linda S. Birnbaum, Scientist Emeritus and Former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program & Scholar at Residence at Duke University, North Carolina University, & Yale University had this to say: “For many people, electrolytes are taken daily. Therefore, it’s very important to avoid electrolyte products with an indication of PFAS “forever chemicals” based on potential health impacts, especially for pregnant women and children.”
Health Effects Linked to Fluorine Chemicals — PFAS “Forever Chemicals” & Fluoride
It’s important to understand what Mamavation tested for in this consumer study because it’s a little different than what we normally do. We tested for a broad category of fluorine-containing chemicals. According to Scott Belcher, Associate Professor with the Center for Environmental & Health Effects of PFAS at North Carolina State University, “the chemical testing methods used evaluate the of fluorine in the samples, by converting the fluorine found in PFAS and some medications to fluoride. Detecting excess amounts of fluoride, a common mineral, suggests the presence of PFAS and other synthetic fluorinated chemicals.”
PFAS “Forever Chemicals” Are Persistent & Have Serious Health Effects
PFAS “forever chemicals” are problematic to human health and the environment. They are considered ubiquitous, persistent, and toxic. Many of these chemicals can last for years or decades in our bodies. Therefore, it’s imperative to reduce the amount of PFAS you are exposed to from food, water, and consumer products.
When electrolytes are taken daily or even often, it’s important to be mindful of the health impacts of PFAS in general:
- Reduction in immunity
- Reduced vaccination response
- Increased risk of allergies & asthma in young children
- Affected growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children
- Increase cholesterol levels
- Metabolic diseases like obesity & diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Lowered a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
- Lowered male fertility
- Increased risk of kidney & testicular cancers
- Causes endocrine disruption
- Disrupted normal thyroid function
It’s also very clear based on biomonitoring evidence from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that PFAS are in essentially all Americans. Therefore, these impacts are spread nationwide.
Terrence Collins, Teresa Heinz Professor of Green Chemistry & Director of the Institute for Green Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University had this to say about the potential of PFAS in electrolytes,
“Many scholars who focus on the impacts of chemicals on public health think PFAS compounds should be banned as a class—this includes me. Once you intake PFAS ‘forever chemicals,’ your body has no adequate cleansing mechanisms. PFAS compounds will build up in your system if you are taking contaminated electrolytes. Those 9 out of 40 contaminated products is a lot and leads me to the conclusion that producers of PFAS-free electrolytes should, as a public service, begin labeling their products as ‘PFAS-free.’ But remember, Mamvation’s 10 ppm limit of quantification is quite high and the producers should push that number way down with more expensive testing as a way to distinguish the safety and sustainability of their products. So Mums, do take advantage of this Mamavation study by choosing electrolyte products that are PFAS-free.”
Why Are Electrolyte Products Needed To Combat Dehydration?
For as long as people have been alive, they’ve presumably been thirsty – and even more than that, they’ve gotten dehydrated. Dehydration occurs when we lose more fluid than we’ve been taking in, which makes it hard for the body to carry out its normal jobs – like ensuring proper kidney function or digestion. The most common cause of dehydration is not drinking enough water or much water throughout the day, however, hot weather, drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, and working out really hard are other factors.
Most people can manage mild to moderate dehydration at home with symptoms like this:
- Major thirst
- Bad breath
- Darker-colored (more than normal) urine
- Decreased urination (from usual)
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- Abdominal pain
- Sudden onset of confusion (especially in the elderly)
- Dizziness and/or fainting spells
- Sugar cravings
If left untreated, there are a number of complications of dehydration that include death. Treatment for dehydration is generally handled at home, with an increase in water and/or rehydration drinks, such as electrolyte drinks and/or coconut water. Mamavation has been working tirelessly to figure out which type of electrolyte drinks have the least amount of “junk” for you to use.
Other Problematic Ingredients Inside Powdered Electrolyte Replacement Drinks
Here are some of the additional ingredients we saw when evaluating the ingredient panel of these electrolyte powders. Here are some additional ingredients you want to look out for and avoid.
- Artificial Colors: These chemicals are used to brighten and improve the appearance of food on the shelf. They are linked to negative health effects. One study linked artificial dyes to the hyperactivity of school children. More studies link artificial colors to poor DNA repair. Removing artificial dyes and preservatives like sodium benzoate has been linked to improving the behavior of children. Several studies have also been done on lab animals linking artificial dyes to certain cancers.
- Artificial flavors: Studies on animals suggest synthetic flavors could have some negative health effects on humans too. Some studies include artificial flavoring having a toxic impact on bone marrow cells. Another study found them to inhibit cell division and have more negative impacts on bone marrow cells. These chemicals are typically petroleum-based.
- Food Additives: The Cleveland Clinic says “Consuming small amounts of additives may be safe, but the health risks add up if you rely heavily on processed foods.” Therefore, the more processed foods are eaten, it increases the odds of obesity or being diagnosed with high blood pressure, heart disease, or cancer.
- “Natural flavors”: This term is everywhere on products and it can include synthetic ingredients and processing making the end product something virtually synthetic. Ultimately we have no idea what is inside a “natural flavor” because the law does not require companies to tell us. The truth is most of the time, they don’t even know themselves. This is because of the stronghold the natural “flavor-ists” have on the industry and the secrecy behind that. This can be a big issue for people who have allergies and sensitivities. But to contrast with the European Union, “natural flavor” in Europe is something that you can make in your kitchen and not something only capable of being made in a lab.
- Sucralose: First introduced and certified by the FDA in 1999, Sucralose (sold as Splenda) has become one of the most popular artificial sweeteners in the United States. This sugar substitute is actually made from sugar itself. By using a chemical process, sucralose becomes 400 to 700 times sweeter than sugar, meaning you need less of it in a cup of coffee to achieve the same effect. However, sucralose has been linked to an increase in blood glucose levels and a decrease of healthy bacteria in the GI tract. In addition, sucralose should not be used in baking as it may release harmful chemical compounds when heated.
- Acesulfame K (Acesulfame Potassium): Acesulfame Potassium has a higher level of sweetness that is 200x sweeter than table sugar according to the Food & Drug Administration. It’s also considered GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA, however, there are some concerns with its safety whereas it was linked with affecting cognitive function. It’s found in sugar-free and low-sugar products, inside Spenda & Equal. Some diet sodas are sweetened with Ace-K and other artificial sweeteners.
Mamavation’s Consumer Study on Indications of PFAS “Forever Chemicals” & Fluoride in Powdered Electrolytes
To recap, Mamavation sent 40 powdered electrolyte products from 30 major brands off to an EPA-certified laboratory looking for indications of PFAS “forever chemicals” and/or fluoride. In order for our lab to do this, they have to perform special testing.
Testing: Mamavation’s lab uses marker testing to identify the potential presence of PFAS “forever chemicals” and/or fluoride in powdered electrolytes. Total fluorine is a marker for PFAS “forever chemicals” as well as inorganic fluoride. The specific lab method used by Mamavation tested for total fluorine was the Determination of Total Fluorine by Oxygen Flask Combustion and Ion-Selective Electrode. The detection limit was 10 parts per million (ppm). This type of marker screening test is likely to show the presence of PFAS “forever chemicals” and/or fluoride present. Along with PFAS, other fluorine can also capture other fluorochemicals, non-PFAS fluorine-containing pharmaceuticals, and some pesticides. None of which you want inside your electrolytes!
Not Our Favorite Electrolytes
The Mamavation community asked us to test each of these brands. We then sent products to our EPA-certified lab. Each brand had a product with detected fluorine above 10 parts per million (ppm), the detection limit. Fluorine can contain any of the following: PFAS “forever chemicals,” inorganic fluoride, fluoropolymers, other fluorochemicals like non-PFAS fluorine-containing pharmaceuticals, and pesticides.
- Jigsaw Health Adrenal Cocktail with Whole Food Vitamin C — 89 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine (added 8/23)
- Nuun Hydration Sport Tropical — 18 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine, 2nd product of Nuun Hydration Sport Tablet Fruit Punch different lot & 3rd product of Nuun Hydration Sport Tablet Tropical different lot were both non-detect.
- PaleoValley Essential Electrolytes Watermelon Flavor — 55 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine, 2nd product PaleoValley Essential Electrolytes Orange Flavor — 47 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine.
- Plexus Hydrate Natural Blueberry Acai Flavor — 17 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine, 2nd product 10 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine
- Signature Care Electrolyte Powder Variety Pack — 13 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine, 2nd product non-detect
- Total Hydration Keto Electrolytes Capsules — 105 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine, 2nd product different lot non-detect total fluorine
- Trace Minerals PowerPak + Immunity Electrolyte Stamina Lemon Berry Supplement — 23 parts per million (ppm) total fluorine (added 8/23)
These products were sent to the lab and were not found to contain any indications of fluorine. This means we also did not find indications of PFAS or inorganic fluoride either. However, they contain other types of ingredients like artificial colors, undisclosed flavors, additives, preservatives, or any other ingredient we warned you about earlier. Many brands that are popular in wellness circles do not have 100% transparency with ingredients and we hope that changes soon.
- Amazon Better Value Electrolyte Powder Grape — non-detect total fluorine (Ingredients: Dextrose, Citric Acid, Potassium Citrate, Salt, Natural Flavor, Sodium Citrate, Less Than 2% Of: Calcium Silicate, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose, Red 40, and Blue 1)
- DripDrop.ors Dehydration Relief Fast Electrolytes — non-detect total fluorine (Ingredients: Berry flavor packet: sugar, fructose, sodium citrate, citric acid, potassium citrate, natural flavor, magnesium citrate, dextrose, salt, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), fruit and vegetable juice color as color, sucralose, zinc aspartate.)
- Emergen-C Hydration Plus Electrolyte Replenishment — non-detect total fluorine (Ingredients: Fructose, Citric Acid, Monobasic Potassium Phosphate, Monobasic Sodium Phosphate, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Potassium Carbonate, Monobasic Calcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid (Vit.C), Magnesium Carbonate. Contains <2% of: Acacia, Beet Juice Concentrate (color), Beta-Carotene (color), Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Hydroxide, Maltodextrin, Manganese Gluconate, Natural Flavor, Rebaudioside A (extracted and purified from natural stevia leaf), Sodium Chloride (salt), Tocopherols (to preserve freshness).
- Gatorade Zero Glacier Zero Sugar Thirst Quencher Powder — non-detect total fluorine (Ingredients: Citric acid, natural flavor, sodium citrate, salt, monopotassium phosphate, sucralose, silicon dioxide, acesulfame potassium, blue 1.)
- HALO Hydration Electrolytes Pink Lemonade — non-detect total fluorine (Ingredients: Ascorbic acid, thiamin, niacin, Vitamin B6, folate, Cyanocobalamin, pantothenic acid, calcium lactate, magnesium oxide, zinc oxide, sodium selenite, manganese citrate, sodium bicarbonate, potassium citrate, certified organic cane sugar, citric acid, organic natural flavors, Gum arabic (Acacia Senegal), Malic Acid, Stevia Extract, Silica.)
- Hi Lyte Ultimate Daily Hydration Lemon — non-detect total fluorine, (Ingredients: Ascorbic acid, niacinamide, biotin, pantothenic acid, calcium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, zinc gluconate, Selenium citrate, Manganese citrate, Sodium chloride, Sodium chloride, Potassium citrate, natural flavors, citric acid, stevia leaf extract (rebaudioside A), silicon dioxide.)
- Isagenix AMPED Hydrate Naturally Better Hydration Drink Mix Blue Rasberry — non-detect total fluorine. (Ingredients: Organic Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) root extract, citric acid, natural flavors, potassium citrate, spirulina extract (color), organic stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) leaf extract, silicon dioxide, ascorbic acid, citrus pectin, calcium citrate, magnesium bisglycinate chelate)
- Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier Electrolyte Drink Mix — non-detect total fluorine, (Ingredients: Pure Cane Sugar, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Salt, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Citrate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide, Rebaudioside A (Stevia Leaf Extract), Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide), Vitamin B5 (D-Calcium Pantothenate), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Natural Flavor, Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
- LMNT Citrus Salt Electrolyte Drink Mix — non-detect total fluorine. (Ingredients: Salt (Sodium Chloride), Citric Acid, Magnesium Malate, Potassium Chloride, Natural Flavors, Stevia Leaf Extract)
- Pedialyte Advanced Care Electrolyte Powder — non-detect total fluorine, (Ingredients: Anhydrous Dextrose, Citric Acid, Potassium Citrate, Salt, Sodium Citrate; Less Than 2% Of: Natural And Artificial Flavor, Calcium Silicate, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose And Red 40.)
- Pique B.T Fountain Beauty Electrolyte — non-detect total fluorine, (Ingredients: Calcium Malate, Magnesium Glycinate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, wheat seed extract, sodium hyaluronate, coconut water, pink Himalayan salt, citric acid, yuzu raspberry and other natural flavors, silica, beet juice powder, monk fruit extract.)
- Prime Hydration Sticks Tropical Punch — non-detect total fluorine, (Ingredients: Citric acid, Coconut water from concentrate, natural flavor, dipotassium phosphate, magnesium citrate, vegetable juice for color, sucralose, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), L-Isoleucine, L-Leucine, L-Valine, sea salt, D-alpha, tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin E), Acesulfame potassium, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B-12).
- SOS Kids Electrolyte Drink Mix Speedy Hydration Pawsome Mixed Berry — non-detect total fluorine, (Ingredients: Sugar, Sodium Citrate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Dextrose, Malic Acid, Magnesium Citrate, natural Mixed Berry Flavor, Natural Flavor, Beet Juice Powder (Color), Steviol Glycosides, Ascorbic Acid, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate.
These products were sent to the lab and were not found to have any indications of fluorine. These products also do not contain any problematic ingredients, including having disclosed all their flavors or their origin.
- Cure Hydrating Electrolyte Mix Watermelon — non-detect total fluorine (Ingredients: Coconut Water Powder, Watermelon Juice Powder, Non-GMO Citric Acid, Pink Himalayan Salt, Watermelon Flavor, Sodium Citrate, Stevia Extract, Lemon Juice Powder, Beet Root Juice Powder, Monk Fruit Extract.)
- Earthley Wellness Electrolyte Powder — non-detect total fluorine (Ingredients: organic maple sugar, Himalayan pink seat salt, & cream of tartar.) (Use discount code “MAMAVATION” for 10% off products)
- GoodOnya Hydrate Daily Electrolytes + Minerals — non-detect total fluorine (Ingredients: Organic Lemon Juice Powder, Aquamin, Magnesium Sea Minerals, Organic Coconut Water Powder, Organic Stevia Leaf Extract, Himalayan Pink Salt, Non-GMO Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C))
- Keto K1000 Electrolyte Powder Watermelon — non-detect total fluorine, (Ingredients: Calcium lactate, magnesium citrate, sea salt, potassium citrate, citric acid anhydrous, Natural watermelon flavor, malic acid, rice fiber, & stevia)
- Livinggood Daily Energyze Electrolytes — non-detect total fluorine (Ingredients: Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid), Magnesium (as Dimagnesium Malate), Chloride (as Sodium Chloride), Sodium (as Sodium Chloride), Potassium (as Potassium Bicarbonate), D-Ribose, FOS (Fructooligosaccharides), L-Taurine, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, Acetyl L-Carnitine (as Acetyl L-Caritine Hydrocholoride), L-Theanine, Citrus Bioflavonoids Complex, Quercetin (as Quercetin Dihyrate). Other ingredients: Citric Acid, Organic Tapioca Maltodextrin, Natural Lemon-Lime and Orange Flavors, Organic Gum Acacia, Organic Stevia Leaf Extract, Organic Luo Han Guo Fruit Extract (Monk Fruit).
- Nectar Essential Daily Hydration Wild Berry — non-detect total fluorine (Ingredients: Organic Berry, Potassium Citrate, Non-GMO Malic Acid, Magnesium Citrate, Calcium Citrate, Himalayan Pink Salt, Organic Stevia)
- Re-Lyte from Redmond Electrolyte Mix — non-detect total fluorine, (Ingredients: Calcium, magnesium malate, magnesium glycinate, chloride, sodium, potassium citrate, coconut water powder.)
- Skratch Labs Sport Hydration Drink Mix with Oranges — non-detect total fluorine, (Ingredients: Cane Sugar, dextrose, Sodium citrate, Citric Acid, Magnesium Lactate, Calcium Citrate, Potassium Citrate, orange oil, Ascorbic Acid.)
- Trioral Oral Rehydration Salts — non-detect total fluorine, (Ingredients: Glucose, Anhydrous 13.5g Trisodium Citrate, Dihydrate 2.9g Sodium Chloride 2.6g Potassium Chloride 1.5g)
- Ultima Replenisher Hydration Electrolyte Powder — non-detect total fluorine, (Ingredients: Magnesium Citrate, Citric Acid, Dipotassium Phosphate, Malic Acid, Potassium Aspartate, Natural Watermelon Flavor, Calcium Citrate, Calcium Ascorbate, Fruit and Vegetable Powder (Color), Salt (Sodium Chloride), Rebaudioside A, Zinc Citrate, Manganese Citrate)