Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Is Prime Bad For You? Ayana Herndon

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Wrapped in a colorful, 12-ounce can with flavors from strawberry watermelon to ice pop, Prime Energy is a caffeinated energy drink retailed to help replenish the body. Both Prime Energy and its sister product Prime Hydration have become a go-to drink among athletic teenagers and tweens (right up there with Celsius). However, the ingredients of both drinks have alarmed TikTok users and parents alike, leaving many people asking, “Is Prime bad for you?”

“Overall, I advise patients to carefully consider personal health factors before regularly consuming energy drink products,” Naheed Ali, MD, tells POPSUGAR. “While energy drinks can serve a role for some healthy adults in moderation, awareness of caffeine sources and prudent personalization remain key to balancing safety and perceived benefits.”

Adding to social media users’ uncertainty about the beverage company is the proposed class suit filed against Prime Hydration LLC in 2023. The allegations claim that Prime is falsely advertised as “healthy,” although it contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) which according to the National Cancer Institute can cause an elevated risk of cancer.

Before chugging Prime Energy or Prime Hydration en route to the gym or sports practice, here, experts weigh in on everything to know about the drinks, including their ingredients, proposed side effects, and ultimately whether they’re bad for you.

What Is Prime?

Prime is a beverage company founded by viral content creators Logan Paul and Olajide “KSI” Olatunji. According to its official website, the company’s main objective is to deliver “bold, thirst-quenching flavors to help you refresh, replenish, and refuel.” Launched in 2022, Prime has since expanded to include energy drinks, sports drinks and hydration sticks, with all-star athletes from NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes to soccer player Alisha Lehmann as ambassadors.

Prime Energy Ingredients

Prime Energy and Prime Hydration contain a base of vitamins and coconut water, but the standout ingredient in Prime Energy drinks is caffeine, with 200 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce can. L-theanine, taurine, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 are also on the list of Prime Energy ingredients. Prime Energy is marketed as zero sugar and vegan. But it does contain the artificial sweetener, sucralose and acesulfame potassium.

The caffeine content is arguably the most concerning ingredient, according to multiple experts including Dr. Ali. “In particular, the high caffeine content can lead to accelerated heart rate, insomnia, anxiety, digestive upset, and interfering drug interactions, especially in excess amounts,” he says. Taurine in particular is an amino acid that aims to aid a healthy metabolism, but further research on its long-term effects in such a high dosage (as found in Prime Energy drinks) is required, he elaborated.

Lauren Manaker, a registered dietician based in Charleston, SC, explained how harmful Prime Energy can be in combination with other caffeinated drinks. “While 200 mg is an acceptable amount of caffeine for a person to drink, if you combine this [Prime Energy] with other caffeinated drinks, like coffee, you can easily exceed the 400 mg limit set by the FDA.”

Prime Hydration Ingredients

Prime Hydration, on the other hand, contains ingredients that may be beneficial, Manaker says. This includes water (the primary component for hydration), coconut water (a natural source of electrolytes), as well as B vitamins, antioxidants, electrolytes, and natural flavors. The drink also contains artificial sweeteners, including sucralose and acesulfame potassium. The sweeteners used are approved for food use by the FDA, but acesulfame potassium has raised concerns among health professionals due to a potential link between the sweetener and effects on metabolic processes, as well as an increased risk of cancer, Manaker says. “While regulatory bodies like the FDA maintain that acesulfame K is safe for consumption within set guidelines, ongoing research and public skepticism continue to highlight the need for a deeper understanding of its long-term implications on human health.”

What is the Lawsuit Against Prime Drinks?

The 2023 Prime lawsuit was filed by a California resident named Elizabeth Castillo, who allegedly stated that Prime Hydration drinks are falsely represented as healthy. Details of the suit reveal that Castillo independently tested the Prime Hydration Grape sports drink and found harmful PFAS, and synthetic artificial chemicals.

That same year, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to investigate Prime Energy drinks and the overall Prime company. “One of the summer’s hottest status symbols for kids is not an outfit, or a toy—it’s a beverage—but buyer and parents beware because it’s a serious health concern for the kids it so feverishly targets,” Schumer stated.

Is Prime Energy Bad For You?

While some of the ingredients found in Prime Energy and Prime Hydration (including coconut water) aren’t bad to consume on their own, the defining factor lies in how frequently the drinks are consumed. “Prime Energy isn’t necessarily bad for you, as long as you are eating a balanced diet and you are not consuming many servings of this drink every day,” Manaker tells POPSUGAR. But she warns consumers about the amount of caffeine. Each Prime Energy drink contains 200 mg of caffeine, meaning you could easily exceed the 400 mg limit set by the FDA when combined with a coffee or another caffeinated beverage. An overconsumption of caffeine can lead to palpitations, sleep disturbances, and increased blood pressure, Manaker says. And over time, regular intake can also contribute to more serious health issues such as heart arrhythmias.

Other experts, including registered dietician Marissa Meshulam based in New York City, say the artificial ingredients found in Prime Energy drinks raise a red flag. “Artificial sweeteners cause and worsen gut issues, can cause increased appetite later on in the day, and can mess with our taste buds and get us used to hyper-sweet food. If you are looking for energy, I suggest seeking out real, balanced meals and drinking a cup of coffee, green tea, or matcha instead,” Meshulam told POPSUGAR.

It’s also important to note that Prime energy should not be consumed by anyone under the age of 18 (as stated by the company). Those with a caffeine sensitivity or those who are pregnant or nursing are also advised to refrain from drinking the beverage.

Is Prime Hydration Bad For You?

It depends. In general, as long as people are not overconsuming these hydration drinks, they should be safe to consume for a generally healthy person, says Manaker.

That said, the ingredients don’t exactly get a green flag from experts either. The same artificial sweeteners are used in Prime Energy are in Prime Hydration, too. And “while it is impossible to completely avoid PFAS exposure in everyday life, I suggest people limit their exposure whenever they have the ability to do so,” Manaker says, before suggesting consumers steer clear of the Prime Hydration grape flavor.

Other ingredients that gave her pause, include the natural flavors and added vitamins. “While natural flavors aren’t bad, it is hard to determine exactly which natural flavors are included in this drink, which may not agree with certain people,” she tells POPSUGAR. Also, for people who eat a balanced diet, the additional vitamins and minerals may not be necessary.

“Depending on a person’s dietary intake (including their intake of certain supplements), consuming this drink may result in them overconsuming certain nutrients, thanks to the added vitamins and minerals used when making it,” Manaker cautions. Prime Hydration also advertises itself as being lower in calories and lower in sugar. “For some, this can be a healthy option for hydration support. But for those who need to replenish glycogen stores by including ample glucose in their diet, this hydration drink may not be the best choice. It is also relatively low in sodium. Again for some, that is a-ok. But for people who are sweating and losing a lot of fluids and electrolytes, they may need a choice higher in this mineral,” Manaker tells POPSUGAR.

Ultimately, she encourages people to err on the side of caution and enjoy drinks like this in reasonable quantities. If you’re really looking for some extra hydration, water is always a safe and restorative option.

Is Prime OK For Kids to Drink?

The main concern with Prime Energy and Prime Hydration is its popularity among younger ages, with TikTok users accusing the brand of marketing towards the teen and tween audience.

With the high caffeine content in Prime Energy, experts advise children not to consume the drink. Even Prime’s official website explicitly states that Prime Energy is for ages 18 and over. “Prime Energy is not safe for those under 18,” Meshulam emphasizes.

Manaker recommends children avoid the Prime Hydration drinks too. “These drinks are formulated based on the needs of adults, not children,” she says.

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