Is It Safe To Drink Crystal Light While pregnant?

Is it safe to drink Crystal Light while pregnant?

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Crystal Light includes powdered beverage mixes produced by Kraft Foods, American food manufacturing, and processing company. Crystal Light was first sold in 1982. Currently, it is available in a wide variety of flavors.

The drink mix is sometimes called a “water enhancer,” It is popular among people who do not want to drink plain water and search for something with pleasant flavor and sweetness.

But is Crystal Light the right choice for human health, especially when it comes to a pregnant woman? To understand this issue, it is essential to study each of its ingredients, explaining what they are and whether they can be hazardous for the mother and the baby.

Crystal Lights ingredients do pose some risk

Citric acid

Citric acid is a weak acid added to many beverages for its sour flavor and preservative properties. It provides a popular refreshing taste.

But citric acid is not useful for a pregnant woman. In animal experiments, pregnant animals consuming citric acid had babies born with some problems. As no studies have been done on humans, we still do not know its true effect [1].

Therefore, doctors do not recommend taking citric acid products while pregnant.

Ascorbic acid

Ascorbic acid or vitamin C is essential for the human body and belongs to category A by the FDA. So, it seems to be absolutely safe. Pregnant women are prescribed ascorbic acid in small doses to prevent anemia.  Especially for iron-deficient anemia and help with the upper/lower respiratory tract infections [2].

But if a woman exceeds the recommended dose, ascorbic acid is assigned to pregnancy category C. Some studies show that high amounts of ascorbic acid may cause conditional scurvy in babies [3] following birth.

Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin is a popular sweetener, thickener, and preservative used in processed foods. Maltodextrin is usually made from corn, wheat, or potato starch.

Maltodextrin may cause some possible health problems like allergies, gastrointestinal issues (diarrhea, gas, and other stomach related issues), blood sugar spikes, gut bacteria suppression [4]. If a woman has some gut-related health issues, it is better to avoid drinking Crystal Light.

Aspartame

It is an artificial “low-calorie” sweetener. Manufacturers might often add to various soft-drinks as it is several times sweeter than the sugar.

FDA and UN Food and Agriculture Organization insist on aspartame safety nontoxicity for adults, children, and fetuses [5]. Nonetheless, studies are showing that it can pose certain health risks, particularly in pregnancy [6].

Recent studies found that aspartame’s breakdown products cross the placenta, although it occurs only at high doses [7].

Thus, based on available data, consumption of aspartame during pregnancy is not expected to be a concern when staying within the acceptable daily limit. But it is important to note that women with phenylketonuria should avoid aspartame owing to its breakdown into phenylalanine [8].

Calcium phosphate

Calcium phosphate is a nutritional supplement that is not formally assigned to a pregnancy category by the FDA as no controlled data from studies in pregnant women is available.

Calcium is transported across the human placenta, and the human fetus is dependent on the mother’s nutrients, one of which is calcium. By the end of normal pregnancy, the fetus needs approximately 28 g of calcium and 16 g of phosphorus.

Even though calcium phosphate is a safe ingredient for women’s health, the doctors insist on taking milk or milk products to get a daily dose, not beverage mixes, as such drinks contain other components of dubious value. Women who do not consume milk or dairy products might take calcium supplements.

Pregnant ladies with hyperthyroidism should avoid high calcium intake due to an increased risk of specific issues, including prematurity and hypocalcemic tetany [9].

Salt

Salt is necessary in moderate amounts. However, a higher intake of salt might not be suitable for health.

Salt affects the kidneys causing the body to retain water. This extra fluid results in high blood pressure. A low salt diet during pregnancy will help a woman reduce unnecessary risks, including heart problems.

Moreover, some results suggest that a high intake of salt during pregnancy may affect fetal renal development [10].

Acesulfame potassium

Acesulfame potassium is one more artificial sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than table sugar. The FDA approved the ingredient in 1998 as safe, but some recent studies found it might not be as safe as claimed earlier. It is considered that acesulfame potassium may affect prenatal development [8].

To date, acesulfame potassium is not much studied in pregnant women, but studies have found that the sweetener does cross the placenta.

An animal study also reported that fetuses exposed to acesulfame potassium had an increased preference for sweet solutions and acesulfame potassium solution in adulthood compared with those in the control group [11].

Caffeine

Some Crystal Light mixes contain caffeine. The studies say that consuming 200mg or less a day should not pose any significant risk in terms of miscarriage or growth of the baby while in the womb [12]. Articles about maternal caffeine consumption and pregnancy outcomes published in the past two decades show that large doses of caffeine may cause miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, and childhood overweight and obesity.

Some studies found that drinks containing caffeine may lead to a caffeine-related risk of childhood leukaemia [13].

Other Crystal Light ingredients seem relatively safe

Also, Cristal Light beverage mixes contain several ingredients that do not have potential hazards. They are the following:

Magnesium oxide

Magnesium is an essential micronutrient needed to regulate body temperature, protein synthesis, nucleic acids, and maintain nerve and muscle conduction. It may also be beneficial for fetal growth, and may even have a role in the prevention of pre-eclampsia [14].

Rebiana or Stevia

Stevia has gained popularity in recent times and is commonly used as a natural sugar substitute in juices and soft drinks. Some Crystal Light mixes contain Stevia as a food additive. The compound originates from the Stevia rebaudiana¬†plant’s leaves and is in use as a noncaloric sweetener. In animal studies, Stevia did not increase toxicity in rat embryos, nor did it affect fertility or pregnancy outcomes.

The US FDA considers stevia to be safe in pregnancy; it is classified as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). However, there are no data on the outcomes of the use of Stevia during human pregnancies [15].

Healthy alternatives to Crystal Light while pregnant

Generally, small amounts of Crystal Light will not harm pregnant woman’s health. Moreover, some Crystal Light varieties contain small quantities of vitamins A, C, E, B6, and B12 and may promote energy, hydration, and immunity [16].

But in more extensive amounts, it can cause some health problems. If a woman got used to consuming powered drinks daily before pregnancy, she should change her dietary choices and search for healthier alternatives.

The following beverages may be used instead of Crystal Light lemonade, sweet tea, or punch while pregnant:

  • Lemon water
  • Tea
  • Sparkling water
  • Plain water
  • Water with trace mineral drops added

Crystal light components seem to pose only a minor threat to fetal or maternal health. However, it is necessary to understand that pregnant ladies are probably likely to consume various processed food items while pregnant. Generally, it is better to avoid synthetically produced products during pregnancy.

References

  1. Dhanani JV, Ganguly BP, Chauhan LN. Comparison of efficacy and safety of two parenteral iron preparations in pregnant women. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012;3(4):314-319. doi:10.4103/0976-500X.103688
  2. Hans U, Edward B. Regular vitamin C supplementation during pregnancy reduces hospitalization: outcomes of a Ugandan rural cohort study. Pan Afr Med J. 2010;5. Accessed November 11, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3032617/
  3. Valentini D, Barbuti D, Grandin A, De Horatio LT, Villani A. A good growth in a child with scurvy. BMJ Case Rep. 2011;2011. doi:10.1136/bcr.10.2010.3383
  4. Maltodextrin: Dangers, Substitutes, Side Effects, and Benefits. Accessed November 11, 2020. https://greatist.com/health/maltodextrin-dangers
  5. Franz M. Is it safe to consume aspartame during pregnancy? A review. Nutrition update. Diabetes Educ. 1986;12(2):145-147. doi:10.1177/014572178601200212
  6. Ranney RE, Mares SE, Schroeder RE, Hutsell TC, Raczialowski FM. The phenylalanine and tyrosine content of maternal and fetal body fluids from rabbits fed aspartame. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1975;32(2):339-346. doi:10.1016/0041-008x(75)90224-0
  7. Sturtevant FM. Use of aspartame in pregnancy. Int J Fertil. 1985;30(1):85-87.
  8. The Safety of Sugar Substitutes. Government of Canada. Published on April 30, 2008. Accessed November 11, 2020. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/healthy-living/your-health/food-nutrition/safety-sugar-substitutes.html
  9. Kovacs CS. Calcium and Phosphate Metabolism and Related Disorders During Pregnancy and Lactation. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., eds. Endotext. MDText.com, Inc.; 2000. Accessed November 11, 2020. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279173/
  10. Mao C, Liu R, Bo L, et al. High-salt diets during pregnancy affected fetal and offspring renal renin-angiotensin system. J Endocrinol. 2013;218(1):61-73. doi:10.1530/JOE-13-0139
  11. Zhang G-H, Chen M-L, Liu S-S, et al. Effects of mother’s dietary exposure to acesulfame-K in Pregnancy or lactation on the adult offspring’s sweet preference. Chem Senses. 2011;36(9):763-770. doi:10.1093/chemse/bjr050
  12. Having some caffeine in pregnancy “is fine.” Accessed November 12, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-53887440
  13. James JE. Maternal caffeine consumption and pregnancy outcomes: a narrative review with implications for advice to mothers and mothers-to-be. BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. Published online August 25, 2020:bmjebm-2020-111432. doi:10.1136/bmjebm-2020-111432
  14. Makrides M, Crosby DD, Shepherd E, Crowther CA. Magnesium supplementation in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;2014(4). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000937.pub2
  15. Pope E, Koren G, Bozzo P. Sugar substitutes during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician. 2014;60(11):1003-1005.
  16. Crystal Light. Accessed November 12, 2020. https://www.crystallight.com/
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