Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Just when you think you have seen everything the food and drink industry comes up with one more over the top angle to sell their products---no matter what the health cost to the consumer.

Recently the market has been flooded with new drinks and dessert products laced with melatonin—a drug used to induce sleep. You can find it in numerous products like drinks with names like, Dream Water, I Chill, Relax Zen and Drank. These are the anti-energy drinks that are touted to help you relax and, yes, lead you to slumber land quickly. Other companies are getting a piece of the action by putting melatonin in brownies and desserts called, Lazy Cakes, Mary J’s Brownies, Lulla Pies and Kush Cakes. Sold on-line and in stores like 7-11, Walgreens and university bookstores these harmless looking products are not harmless at all---they can have serious effects on those who are tempted to eat or drink them.

Melatonin is a drug and it should not be used in foods or drinks. Melatonin, prescribed in controlled, therapeutic doses can aid sleep effectively, but putting a drug (which is also a hormone) in food products crosses the line, in my opinion. These companies are getting away with this right now because they have put it in desserts and drinks and classified them as dietary supplements, which are not regulated by the FDA. Melatonin has not been approved by the FDA as a food additive so it is neither guaranteed safe, nor effective, in this usage. Bad idea!

This is especially concerning because these products tempt kids who may not even realize or know what they are buying or how it might affect them. One story I read on the web reported a young athlete having this brownie and being unable to go to practice after eating it because he became so sleepy and lethargic. Other reports indicate small amounts of Dream Water, 2.5 ounces is so powerful it can knock a person out cold and cause a “hangover” effect when doses are higher. This sleep-inducing effect can be dangerous to those getting behind the wheel of a car or operating machinery, as well as for athletes headed for training, practice and games. The best approach is to steer clear of these products and be aware of what they look like on the store shelves---they are not your grandma’s brownies!

Putting drugs in food and drinks that taste good promotes overconsumption, which may lead to overdosing of the product and serious consequences for those who consume them. Reading the label is not the answer since these products deliberately disguise the ingredients and make label reading difficult for the consumer. In my view, it’s not reasonable or logical to ask the consumer to police every food or drink on the market to make sure they aren’t containing random drugs, like melatonin. What ever happened to food safety?

Kim Larson, RD
Sports Nutrition Consultant

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