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Will the new Pedialyte drinks actually cure hangovers? Not so fast, says a nutritionist

Adults have been drinking Pedialyte for years to nurse hangovers. Now the brand has a sparkling beverage that's just for older kids.
Getty Images, Pedialyte
/ Source: TODAY

Late-night revelers will go to great lengths to try and cure a hangover — from eating a big greasy breakfast to jumping into ice-cold water.

Of course, the only tried-and-true solution is to avoid drinking too much in the first place but with New Year's Eve fast approaching many people are just thinking about party plans ... and not the dreaded next day.

But one beloved brand that's known for its electrolyte-laden drinks for sick kids has recently caught on to the booming popularity of sparkling beverages and it's now making a fizzy version of its classic drink aimed at adults who are feeling a bit under the weather.

Just in time for Jan. 1 (the world's unofficial Hangover Day), Pedialyte has launched a new sparkling drink product called Sparkling Rush. Instead of a bottle, it comes in powder-filled packets and is currently available in two flavors: cherry and grape. According to a press release, the drink promises “advanced rehydration with a fizz, with an optimal balance of electrolytes and carbohydrates to prevent mild to moderate dehydration." Unlike many traditional Pedialyte flavors, Sparkling Rush is free of artificial colors.

Of course, adults using Pedialyte to rehydrate after a track meet or even a night out is nothing new. Back in 2015 when the brand first started marketing to older consumers, adult usage of Pedialyte spiked by 60 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal. On Pedialyte's official Twitter page, the brand boasts, "Not just for kids, adults can use Pedialyte too."

So, while it’s not new that adults are using Pedialyte to cope with dehydration (and hangovers), this does mark the first time that a new product is being marketed specifically for adults.

Social media is littered with scores of adult Pedialyte devotees posing with their bottles:

Since the new product's release, even more adults seem to be onboard the Pedialyte train:

But is Pedialyte actually a miracle hangover cure? And is it even good for us?

Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of and author of "Read It Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table," acknowledged that being able to rehydrate after drinking is important to get on the path to recovery.

"Alcohol causes dehydration so first and foremost … you need to replace the fluid that got lost [the night before]," Taub-Dix told TODAY Food. Water is always an optimal choice but trying to replenish electrolytes naturally is also OK.

When someone loses fluids, they also lose important electrolytes like sodium, potassium and chloride. "Drinks like Gatorade were created to help athletes and exercisers who need to replenish fluid and electrolytes after being active," said Taub-Dix, who was quick to point out that drinking alcoholic beverages should not be considered an extreme sport.

But after a night out, "you still need to replenish fluid and electrolytes in the same fashion as you would after exercising," she said. However, many of the most popular sports drinks are also known to be high in sugar. A 12-ounce serving of traditional Pedialyte has about 35 calories and 9 grams of sugar. The same serving of Gatorade has almost 100 calories and 20 grams of sugar. One packet of Pedialyte's Sparkling Rush has 45 calories and 8 grams of sugar, so it is definitely a healthier option than classic Gatorade for replenishing some of those lost minerals, but it still won't make the post-party blues disappear instantly.

"Pedialyte [the "pedia" means kids] was created for kids who need replenishment when [they get] ill from vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and so on," said Taub-Dix. "The attraction to Pedialyte, perhaps is to get more sodium and potassium with less calories — but whether you really need that quantity is another story."

But what about the addition of the sparkle? Will those fizzy bubbles magically relieve adult tummy troubles? "I don’t think it matters — it just might seem more like soda for those who prefer bubbles," said Taub Dix. But, she warned that the bubbles may actually have a negative effect on some consumers: "For some people, those whose hangovers have gone too far [and include] throwing up, the bubbles may be more bloating and lead to gastrointestinal discomfort."

OK, OK, maybe we'll just stick to the regular Pedialyte fluid ... for now.