Why You Should NOT Drink Lucozade When You’re Pregnant

A bottle of Lucozade sitting on a table in the sunshine
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David

Why You Should NOT Drink Lucozade When You’re Pregnant

Lucozade is a widely used soft drink in the UK and has been used as a sports drink since the 1980’s. It is accepted as a sports drink yet has competitive interests in the energy drinks market as well. It was sold mostly in pharmacies up until the 1980s as it became more readily available as a sports drink in shops across the UK.
Prior to this it was sold within pharmacies and was sold originally to “aid recovery”.
All of this is a shining example of British soft drink historical market success. But it also has another side which is ingrained into the psyche of the British medical industry. We now see sports drinks and energy drinks blurring the lines between the two. Lucozade does have a history and is still considered a sports drink but is this true?

Lucozade is thought to be a supportive drink for certain ailments as it has long standing roots in the British pharmaceutical industry. This is also considered true when it is used in the Pregnancy wards across the NHS. Seeing Lucozade within the wards in the UK wasn’t unusual and until recently had been used for the Glucose Tolerance Test.

On Glucose Tolerance Test- “because its high sugar content means it boosts your blood-sugar levels quickly.”

Made For Mums

But does it really have a place in our wards? Or should it stay in its lane and stick to track and field, let’s find out.

First things first, what’s in Lucozade?

Nutrition NRV information table used in the UK for Lucozade
  • Carbonated water (of course!)
  • Glucose syrup
  • Citric acid
  • Preservatives and flavourings
  • Electrolytes


    Ingredients:
    Carbonated Water, Glucose Syrup* (13%), Acids (Citric Acid, Lactic Acid), Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrate), Flavourings, Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Caffeine, Sweeteners (Sucralose*, Acesulfame* K), Antioxidant (Ascorbic Acid), Colours (Sunset Yellow*, Ponceau 4R), Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Dyes Used in Lucozade:

Let’s take a deep dive into what can be seen within easily publicly available information.

.*Sunset yellow FCF (also known as orange yellow S, or C.I. 15985) is a petroleum-derived orange dye.
It’s an Azo Dye.

Azo dyes are the most important synthetic colorants which have been widely used in textile, printing, paper manufacturing, etc. 

Azo dyes on humans and aquatic life have aroused urgent calls for the treatment of effluents containing azo dyes to eliminate them (stop using them altogether) or convert them into useful and safe products. But in this case? Let’s put them into a drink… a much better idea!

Lucozade Sport Elite up alongside the equivalent in sugar. 2 walls Magnum Ice-creams

Sugar Content

*Glucose syrup. Lucozade has high levels of glucose syrup.

LUCOZADE SPORT ELITE ORANGE (500ml)

195 calories
0g fat
40g sugar

SUGAR EQUIVALENT 2 Walls Magnum Classic Chocolate Ice Creams
Won the ‘worst sports drink’ listed from St George’s Kidney Patients Association

Sweeteners

*Sucralose is an artificial sweetener and sugar substitute. The majority of ingested sucralose is not broken down by the body, so it is noncaloric. In the European Union, it is also known under the E number E955.

*Acesulfame- A chemical compound, is a synthetic calorie-free sugar substitute often marketed under the trade names Sunett and Sweet One. In the European Union, it is known under the E number E950.

Caffeine in Lucozade

I cover this in more detail later on. But keep in mind that It’s widely accepted that there are no known safe level of caffeine whilst you are pregnant.

‘that there is “substantial cumulative evidence” of an association between maternal caffeine consumption and diverse negative pregnancy outcomes, specifically miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and/or small for gestational age, childhood acute leukaemia and childhood overweight and obesity, but not preterm birth.’

The BMJ

Lucozade Benefits in Pregnancy

So, why might you consider Lucozade during pregnancy?

A quick search and we find that Lucozade has been confidently touted as a cautionary yet strong contender for lots of different issues through pregnancy. It’s quite usual to find information that supports the use of Lucozade in pregnancy.

Netmum’s, for example, run a short editorial on the topic:
Can You Drink Lucozade When Pregnant? It’s a common question for mums-to-be, which is usually answered with the same understanding of Lucozade that has been passed down. Netmum’s have even said

😱 ‘you should never have more than four small bottles or three medium bottles of Lucozade a day‘. (what?)😱 – This is still in respect of its caffeine content, which the article mentions.


(Worthy of mention: Lucozade sport has no caffeine)

Lucozades use in wards and historical stocking in pharmaceutical shops, such as Boots Chemist keeps its place in the forefront of peoples minds.
Perhaps nostalgic reasoning and lack of due diligence?

Let’s take a look into the reasons why it’s shared as a common go-to recovery drink for pregnancy.

Hydration

Staying hydrated is super important, especially when you’re expecting. Lucozade’s electrolytes can help with that.

Staying hydrated is crucial, especially during pregnancy. Your body needs more water to support the growing life inside you. Dehydration can lead to complications like reduced amniotic fluid, overheating, and even contractions. Lucozade, with its electrolyte content, can assist in replenishing lost fluids and maintaining hydration levels. However, it’s essential to remember that while Lucozade can contribute to hydration, it shouldn’t replace the intake of water.


Editors note- Electrolyte disruption can be a very real problem for some people. It’s when your body cannot manage either overhydration or underhydration. Electrolyte disruption occurs when you have too much or not enough of certain minerals in your body. These minerals can be flushed out from anything that disrupts electrolytes. too much water or perhaps flushed out through caffeine!

Quick Energy

Pregnancy can sometimes leave you feeling drained and low on energy. This is where the glucose content in Lucozade comes into play. Glucose is a simple sugar that your body can quickly convert into energy. A sip of Lucozade can provide that instant boost, helping you overcome that midday slump or giving you the energy to complete daily tasks. This is where you are enjoying a peak sugar spike, which follows by a slump. Kind of like borrowing energy now but you won’t have any later. It’s essential to consume in moderation, as excessive sugar intake can lead to unwanted weight gain and other health concerns like gestational diabetes. This should be a real factor of concern for those suffering from diabetes in pregnancy.

Electrolyte Balance

Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge and play a vital role in maintaining several physiological functions, including muscle contractions and pH balance. During pregnancy, especially if you’re experiencing morning sickness or bouts of dehydration, your electrolyte balance can be disrupted. Lucozade, being an electrolyte-infused drink, can help restore this balance. It’s especially beneficial if you’ve been vomiting or sweating excessively, as these actions can lead to a loss of essential electrolytes.

Vitamins and Minerals

Lucozade has vitamins (vitamin C) and Niacin (vitamin B3).
These are great to support anyone (including pregnancy) which Lucozade has.

Morning Sickness

Lucozade can give you a quick energy boost without making your tummy work overtime to digest it. This can be super helpful when you’re feeling off. Sugar has a great feeling of energy boosting and can sometimes be all you need in order to resolve some morning sickness pick-me-ups.

Lucozade and Why There Should Be Precautions for Use in Pregnancy

So, you’ve probably heard some buzz about energy and sports drinks, right? Well, it’s essential to chat about why they’ve been on the radar of health pros.

The main reason? Caffeine.

There’s a good reason why I mention this isotonic sports drink, Lucozade in the same light as an energy drink. Mainly because on closer inspection it feels like that blurring of the lines between sports and energy drinks I mentioned earlier becomes more blatant when we start looking into the main features of an energy drink. Lucozade, does have some electrolyte elements to it- which is true (vitamin C and Vitamin B3). But what about all the other stuff?

The significance of other parts to its composition start looking akin to your standard energy drink. You can find our breakdown of energy drinks during pregnancy on this link.

So, while that combo of energy and sports drinks might sound tempting, it’s always a good idea to sip well clear and keep eye on that caffeine content.

But How Much Caffeine is in Lucozade?

It was found that Diet Coke had a greater caffeine content than Coke (4.15 compared with 3.13 mg/fl oz), Tab is virtually caffeine free, and Lucozade, sold as a tonic, contains more caffeine than any of the other carbonated beverages tested (5.17 mg/fl oz).

“All of our Lucozade Energy drinks contain approximately 12mg of caffeine per 100ml. The caffeine content varies slightly for the different flavours.”

Lucozade

Let’s just check how much caffeine this means for someone.

Well it turns out Lucozade is quite an important factor when considering caffeine. Of course, coffee differs greatly and we are looking at quite a significantly healthy serving of Lucozade (380ml). But that’s what is sold as personal use. So if it’s significant, it means it’s significant for your pregnancy also.

“Researchers analyzed the brain scans of more then 9,000 nine and ten-year-olds and found a change in important brain pathways in those whose mothers retrospectively reported consuming caffeine while pregnant.

University of Rochester Medical Study

Caffeine passes the placental barrier freely; the foetus does not express the main enzymes that inactivate it and caffeine metabolites have been found to accumulate in the foetal brain.

National Library of Medicine

But How Dangerous is Caffeine in Pregnancy Really?

A good question. So let’s take a deep dive into the importance of caffeine during pregnancy and whether you should take precautions (just a hint here- you should!).

“A mug of coffee each day roughly doubles the risk of having
stillbirths.”

– NHS England
An NHS poster about the worries of caffeine during pregnancy.

Conclusion to Drinking Lucozade During Pregnancy

Ah, Lucozade. It’s more than just a drink for many of us. It’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane, a testament to its deep-seated roots in British history. I, for one, have a soft spot for Lucozade. Its iconic branding, the memories of sipping it when I have had a ‘tummy bug’ or grabbing a bottle after rugby, (perhaps you might remember it used to be in glass bottles?) and the way it has been woven into the fabric of our culture is undeniable. But as we stand at the crossroads of sentimentality and the stark realities of today, we must ask:

Does Lucozade belong in the sacred journey of motherhood?

Pregnancy is a time of profound transformation, a delicate dance of life where every choice echoes in the heartbeat of the unborn. And while Lucozade might evoke feelings of warmth and nostalgia, its place in the pregnancy narrative is questionable at best. The caffeine, the sugars, the dyes, the sweeteners – they all cast a shadow over its once-golden reputation.

So, should it find a spot in a pregnancy bag or be part of a routine during those tender months of anticipation? The heart says, tread with caution. While an occasional sip, nestled within a balanced diet, might not spell disaster, it’s not for being a staple or solution during pregnancy. As we cherish the past and embrace the memories, let’s also prioritise the future, making choices that honour the sanctity of life and the well-being of both mother and child.

When it comes to the health and well-being of both mother and baby during pregnancy, there’s no room for compromise. Lucozade, a drink that blurs the lines between sports and energy beverages, presents a cocktail of concerns. The caffeine content, while seemingly modest has no place in a pregnancy drink, accumulates quickly, especially when consumed regularly. This poses undeniable risks to the developing foetus. The high sugar content not only threatens the onset of gestational diabetes but also contributes to unhealthy weight gain. And the inclusion of dyes, particularly Sunset Yellow, is a glaring red flag. These artificial additives have no place in a drink that might be consumed during such a critical period. In light of these factors, the verdict is clear: Lucozade, with its questionable ingredients and potential risks, is a gamble not worth taking during pregnancy. It’s time to prioritise health over the allure of nostalgia and old beliefs, ensuring we make informed choices for the well-being of our future generations. Personally, I believe it’s high time we set boundaries and reposition Lucozade back in its lane.

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