Adding Vitamin Shots To Fountain Soda Drinks (VIDEO)

By Corinne Rose

November 26, 2013 Updated Nov 26, 2013 at 7:33 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- We're always looking for ways to cut corners and do something good for our bodies at the same time. There's a product on the market that seems to offer you that option.

You may have even seen it and wondered about it: vitamin shots for your soda pop.

While you can find them at convenience stores and gas stations in the area, what do they really do for you?

Several Lassus stations around the area offer new fountain drink machines.

Aside from dispensing pop, they also offer 8 free, 3-second shots of flavoring like cherry or vanilla or vitamins like C or D you can add to your drink.

There's a B-12 booster to boost your immune system, a straight immune shot which has no vitamins in it, "alert" designed to pick up endorphins, and vitamin D for bone health.

“The boosters, the immunes, the alerts, they're new to the market. You don't know a lot about it, you're not going to try it. And that's where we come in line, we have the little pieces of paper with information, we can tell you, you know, what you're consuming and what's going to be the benefit to having that in your drink as opposed to a cherry or lime," says Lassus Handy Dandy Manager Kyle Garritano.

"I chose root beer because it's my favorite pop, and then I chose the immunity and the bone health because you need it, especially when you're young. And so what do you think? It doesn't taste any different. I think it's an awesome asset. why not? It's free. It's like a free vitamin every day," says customer Christina Bainter.

So when you're at a machine like this and you decide to try one of these booster shots, what does that really do for you? We went to an expert to find out.

"You will not counter the effects of actually getting a soda with just a little shot of some kind of energy booster, a vitamin booster, an immune booster. You will definitely not counteract the effects of maybe all that sugar, all that caffeine," says Parkview dietitian Kathy Wehrle.

Wehrle reviewed the Lassus handouts showing what's in each vitamin shot, which can contain things like ginseng, ginko biloba, guaranna, and echinacea...things some people get at health food shops. Things even some doctors recommend.

But Whrle says some of these additives, even if naturally derived, can cause side effects like dizziness and headaches, especially if you're on certain medications.

Some of the shots also include red dye #40, which has been banned in Europe.

"I believe another flavor shot is made with the substance guariana, which actually really is caffeine. So if you are safe with taking in extra caffeine, every flavor shot you get gives you 80 milligrams more of caffeine," Wehrle says.

The Lassus manager says it's a way to give customers more options and keep stores competitive with Pepsi and Coke vendors, who already offer vanilla or cherry options in bottles in the case.

"You have your customers who are die-hard 'I want a 20-ounce bottle of pop' but you also have your customers who love the way the fountain pop tastes compared to a bottle. So when you have those two different aspects, we like to keep that variety open and make sure they have that readily available and they can make that decision," Garritano says.

But it's a decision you might want to think about carefully.

"The verdict's really out on some of these herbs. You have to do a little more research. And so I would like for consumers to be a little bit more educated and just kind of go cautiously into this adventure," Wehrle adds.

Cherry and vanilla are used more than twice as often as B-12 or immune in people's drinks.

The vitamins have no extra taste and either zero or up to five calories per shot.

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