Let there be electrolyte
December 28, 2017 11:01 AM   Subscribe

I have found Nuun effervescing tablets to be effective for two very separate things: Hydrating while bike riding, and ridding myself of occasional headaches. But there's something about the drink that's making the inside of my mouth (near the front sides of my teeth) feel raw for several days after drinking. I would like to try to make my own electrolyte drink that includes all the useful ingredients of Nuun, without the other stuff. Can I do this?

Each Nuun tablet includes:
vitamin c (as ascorbic acid) 38 mg
magnesium (as magnesium oxide) 25 mg
sodium (as sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate) 360 mg
potassium (as potassium bicarbonate) 100 mg

Other ingredients: dextrose, citric acid, natural flavors, calcium carbonate, monk fruit extract, stevia leaf extract, avocado oil, beet root juice powder (for color), riboflavin (for color)

My theory is either the citric acid or the stevia are causing the mouth burn. Is the citric acid really necessary? Is it only to provide a quick dissolve for the tablet?

The reason I don't try another product like GU or Zipfizz is that they either have 9g of sugar (too high for my purposes) or caffeine (which I don't want). I also don't want to buy bottles of sports drink because it's not as convenient to take along several for long bike rides.

What I'd like to do is create the least-sweet hydration mix that is still palatable to me, and make it so convenient that I can mix up several doses ahead of time and store for a while before adding water.

My initial idea is to use hibiscus tea mix for the flavoring, then mix it with the magnesium, sodium and potassium powder. Is the calcium important? Can I just empty out some supplement capsules or is that a bad idea? Then, when I add it to the water to dissolve, maybe I could add the juice of a lemon, ice, and 1-2g of sugar to make it more palatable. Is this going to taste terrible?

Would love to get a reality check on this before I try it, and any other ideas you might have for electrolyte drinks that have no artificial sweeteners, no caffeine, no citric acid, and under 9g of sugar.
posted by oxisos to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In Peace Corps we would either be given ORS (oral rehydration salts) or you could make your own. I forget the exact recipe but it was something like baking soda, salt, a bit of sugar and lemon (for taste) mixed into a liter of water. I'll look up the recipe later but it might be worth experimenting with that to start.
posted by raccoon409 at 11:05 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

- You might have a hard time getting potassium powder.

- The rawness might be from the vitamin C, but that's a chelating agent that helps you absorb the nutrients. An OTC electrolyte capsule that lets you just take it with water might avoid the rawness in your mouth.
posted by amtho at 11:09 AM on December 28, 2017

Here's the recipe.
posted by pullayup at 11:20 AM on December 28, 2017

Best answer: There are a wide variety of electrolyte tablets and drops available on Amazon (or wherever) that are flavorless, sugarless, etc.
posted by so fucking future at 11:34 AM on December 28, 2017

What Nuun flavors have you tried? The natural flavors vary and there very well could be something you are sensitive to in there. A dear friend is an ultra runner and can only use the watermelon and lemonade flavors due to allergies.
posted by advicepig at 11:46 AM on December 28, 2017

I have a recipe like pullayup's but with the addition of 1/4 teaspoon of potassium chloride (sold as salt substitute) and only 2 tablespoons of sugar that I used to portion out and wrap in paper. My daughter used it when she worked outdoors all day in the heat.
posted by Botanizer at 12:09 PM on December 28, 2017

The potassium might be a source of irritation as well; it is very caustic.
posted by charmcityblues at 12:37 PM on December 28, 2017

A daily shot of molasses, pickle juice, or beet kvass may do the trick w/o requiring you to re-create the Nuun cocktail.
posted by 10ch at 12:54 PM on December 28, 2017

The reason I don't try another product like GU or Zipfizz is that they either have 9g of sugar (too high for my purposes) ...

FWIW, I currently use the GU Hydration product, and it uses xylitol as the main sweetener, with a little bit of sucrose. (I don't work for GU.)
posted by jason6 at 1:02 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: stevia leaf extract

Stevia is actually in the ragweed family, so I bet you are right that it's causing the reaction. If you have regular seasonal allergies you are likely allergic to stevia too. When it is ingested, it can make your mouth itch/burn/tingle.
posted by kate blank at 3:12 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

You may be reacting to something in the "natural flavors" I suspect. Unless you know that you have an allergy to one of the listed ingredients, that's the most likely culprit. (Or as suggested above, if you are allergic to ragweed it is very slightly possible that the stevia is to blame.)

The potassium is bicarbonate not chloride (much less irritating), and the citric acid is there to react and make it fizz. With only 38 mg of vitamin c on the label there's not enough to be caustic, especially if you're diluting it in the suggested amount of water. I know people who just eat these as chewables.

There are a lot of electrolyte powders and pills and drops and tablets and chews available, just try some other brand. One without "natural" flavors or sweeteners. "Natural" makes products like this unpredictable. However, making your own is hard to do well and safely, and it isn't cost effective.
posted by monopas at 3:48 PM on December 28, 2017

Banana bags taste wretched but seem to work better than anything else. They're unlikely to cause problems.
posted by equipoise at 12:11 AM on December 31, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice. For bike rides I'll be trying out some of the unflavored drops and adding them to another lightly flavored drink (water with lemon or hibiscus). In the meantime, I also did some taste tests with bottled drinks: Gatorade Zero, Propel Zero, and Vitamin Water Zero, and think that I may indeed have a problem with Stevia (which is in the Vitamin Water Zero). Unfortunately that puts GU tablets out of the running since they also contain Stevia.
posted by oxisos at 2:11 PM on January 5, 2018

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