Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Sports drink gets a feverish reception

Formula based on a solution that has been used for more than 50 years to treat patients for dehydration.

The formula used to treat patients with cholera has spurred a new sports rehydration drink developed by a company with links to both Auckland and San Francisco.

The rehydration drink - named SOS - is fast winning fans among elite athletes, with Kiwi IndyCar driver Scott Dixon and British sailing great Sir Ben Ainslie so impressed with the product they have invested in the company themselves.

SOS was founded by former New Zealand rowing world championships boss Tom Mayo and his San Francisco-based brother James. But it is James' wife, Dr Blanca Lizaola, who is behind the venture. Dr Lizaola, who trained in emergency medicine in Mexico and now works as clinical research co-ordinator at the University of California San Francisco, developed the formula based on a solution that has been used for more than 50 years to treat patients for dehydration.

"I used to treat my patients in Mexico with this salt solution, but the problem is it tastes so bad," said Dr Lizaola.

"So we took the science that they use to treat patients with cholera, that are losing around 20 litres of water a day, and changed it a little to make it more suited towards athletes."

SOS, which comes in sachet form and is mixed with water, has six times the electrolytes of regular sports drinks, but just five grams of sugar.

Launched in April this year, SOS already has a healthy following among professional sports, with Dixon getting his Chip Ganassi teammates on to the product, as well as other drivers on the IndyCar circuit. The company is also sponsoring Peter Burling's NZL Sailing Team in this week's Red Bull Youth America's Cup in San Francisco.

SOS is one of the few drinks backed by Informed-Sport, meaning they are approved by Wada to be drug and contaminant free.

An unintended benefit of the solution is that it has also proven a pretty handy hangover cure, or so Mr Mayo's guinea pigs report. "We've almost become an active lifestyle recovery drink," said Mr Mayo. "Even champions need to celebrate."

- NZ Herald

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