- Effectiveness 45% 45%
- Flavor 85% 85%
- Ingredients 100% 100%
Ener-C vs. Emergen-C: Which is Better?
Different products, similar ingredients, different flavors; our winner was Ener-C
Best for Boosting Vitamins and Minerals
Ener-C lacks salt, but has a lot of other valuable ingredients
Great for Recovery Days
Our team found it helped shorten recovery times after heavy workouts
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If you’re reading this article chances are you’ve stumbled upon “Ener-C” and thought the branding, packaging and use cases were very similar to another mass market product that you already knew about. Are they made by the same company? Is Ener-C just a knock off of “Emergen-C?” In short, no and no. Ener-C is slightly different from Emergen-C, and in some ways better.
Ener-C is is produced by a seemingly small company called Ener-Life whereas Emergen-C is owned by Haleon, a UK-based company that was spun off from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. So why are two different companies producing a similar product? There’s not much information online outside of what’s listed on the Ener-Life website, but here’s what we found: Apparently, the founders of Ener-C were involved in the distribution of Emergen-C up until the company was acquired by Pfizer in 2012 (the brand eventually became part of GlaxoSmithKline through a joint venture1). At the point of the Pfizer acquisition, this group of Ener-Life folks decided they wanted to create their own better brand that sources the “purest, most bioavailable and planet-friendly ingredients” and create an “objectively delicious-tasting, convenient and healthy product.”
That story sounds nice and all, but our immediate instinct was to look at the facts. To do this, we did a side-by-side comparison of the nutrition labels. A full analysis is provided in the “Ingredients” section of this article (scroll down). TLDR: Outside of a few minor variations, the labels are virtually identical! So which is better? For us, it came down to the flavor, and in a head-to-head comparison, the winner was clear. For a great-tasting, nutrient-packed mix, go with Ener-C.
If you’re looking for a daily nutrient supplement, Ener-C should check most of your boxes. Each 0.3oz packet contains substantial amounts of must-have vitamins and minerals. Prior to testing the effectiveness, we predicted Ener-C would have a pronounced effect on the daily energy levels of our reviewers. Who wouldn’t benefit from a boost of Vitamins A, E, B and more?
The reality is that we didn’t see much of a physical boost come through during testing. Reviewers who took this supplement before their normal physical activities didn’t notice a difference compared to their baseline of water. This was consistent across men and women who used Ener-C prior to activities that included snowboarding, cycling, HIIT and running.
“I performed about the same on my Peloton ride compared to days where I drink only water. Performance-wise I didn’t notice much… my output scores were within my normal range… I did enjoy the flavor though.”
Two of our reviewers were more upbeat about the effects of Ener-C when taken post workout or on a recovery day. They found the supplement made them feel better the day after a heavy workout and contributed to a shortened recovery time.
“I think the real benefit [of Ener-C] comes when taking it on off-days. I definitely noticed an improvement in my recovery times…usually my legs are gassed for a full 48 hours after leg day, but with Ener-C I felt pretty good within just 24 hours.”
For the hydration vets reading this, these results should come at no surprise. A quick review of the nutrition facts shows that Ener-C contains no sodium- the key element to bodily hydration! While vitamins and other minerals are essential for other functions, salt is a required ingredient for the body to absorb water in the intestines. It’s no wonder why the HydrationReview testers didn’t feel much of a pickup during intense exercise.
If you were looking for a product to improve your workout performance we understand this might be your stopping point. We recommend you check out Ener-C Sport, a similar formula that contains salt.
You’re probably asking: what is the right use case for Ener-C? If you’re looking for an electrolyte that can bolster your essential vitamin and mineral intake, give Ener-C a try. We recommend it for those who want to accelerate recovery after a taxing workout or boost their nutrient levels when their body needs a pick-me-up. Feeling tired, hungover or a little out of whack after an unhealthy meal? Get back on track by drinking an Ener-C.
In the head-to-head matchup between Ener-C and Emergen-C, flavor is where Ener-C shined. The feedback from all 4 reviewers (plus our editors) was that the flavor of Ener-C was superior to the “other-C” brand. Our team tried three flavors of Ener-C: raspberry, lemon lime and tangerine grapefruit, and found them all to be quite enjoyable.
Lemon-lime is the flavor our team is most critical of as we use this as our common denominator when comparing taste across different electrolyte products. Ener-C didn’t disappoint. Here’s what one of our editors had to say:
“The lemon lime flavor is definitely in the top half of all the lemon lime products we’ve tried… Honestly, it could be in the top 75%.”
For comparison purposes, during the test period we provided our reviewers with extra packets of raspberry Ener-C and raspberry Emergen-C and asked them to declare a winner. The result? A 6-0 advantage for Ener-C. Here are the key takeaways of the Emergen-C vs. Ener-C matchup:
- Ener-C dissolved rapidly into solution whereas Emergen-C developed a top layer of foam that didn’t dissipate, even after a few minutes
- Ener-C had a brighter and clearer color though in both drinks there were some amount of undissolved particles
- Ener-C had a balance of mild sweetness and tartness while Emergen-C had no tartness and more sweetness
- Both products left some residue behind on the glass after consumption, though Emergen-C left at least 50% more
- Tip: Mix with no more than 5 oz of water for the best taste (this is not meant to be dissolved in a full water bottle)
If you want a more natural tasting flavor and better dissolve-ability, choose Ener-C.
As mentioned earlier, in an attempt to compare Ener-C and Emergen-C, our immediate action was to do a side-by-side analysis of the ingredients. We also included a column for Ener-C Sport to highlight some of the key differences.
|Ener- C||Emergen-C||Ener-C Sport|
|Total Carbohydrate||5 g||8 g||1|
|Sugar||5 g||6 g||1 g|
|Vitamin C||1000 mg||1000 mg||250 mg|
|Vitamin A||2500 IU|
|Vitamin E||15 IU|
|Vitamin B3||5 mg||4 mg|
|Vitamin B6||2 mg||10 mg|
|Folate||40 mcg||167 mcg|
|Vitamin B12||25 mcg||25 mcg|
|Pantothenic Acid||2.5 mg||2.5 mg|
|Calcium||50 mg||50 mg||50 mg|
|Phosphorus||38 mg||38 mg|
|Magnesium||60 mg||53 mg||50 mg|
|Zinc||5 mg||2 mg||5 mg|
|Manganese||0.5 mg||0.5 mg|
|Chromium||12 mcg||10 mcg||20 mcg|
|Potassium||200 mg||200 mg||110 mg|
|Sodium||65 mg||125 mg|
This is a lot of numbers to look at. We’ll summarize what we think are the most interesting observations starting at the top of the table.
If you’re counting carbs, Ener-C comes in with about 40% fewer than Emergen-C (5g vs. 8g.)
Emergen-C contains no Vitamin A or Vitamin E. This is less significant for readers who already have a balanced diet. Studies show that Vitamin A deficiencies are rare in western countries2. The same goes for Vitamin E- if you’re consuming cereal, nuts, oils, meats or leafy vegetables, you’re probably getting a sufficient amount3. If, however, you’re looking for a supplement to right the ship during a bachelor party where nutritious food is sparse, the vitamins in Ener-C would make it a better choice over Emergen-C.
Ener-C contains iodine whereas Emergen-C does not. The reality is you probably don’t need iodine in your hydration mix. Studies show that iodine is mostly important for birthing mothers and young children as it plays an important role in thyroid development4. Iodine deficiencies are mainly a problem in developing countries.
Fighting a cold? You might have been told to boost your zinc intake. Both Ener-C and Emergen-C contain low levels of zinc (5 mg and 2 mg, respectively) which is below the recommended daily amount of 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. Either way you’ll need more.
Ener-C Sport is pretty stripped down compared to Ener-C, but it does contain 2 key ingredients essential to hydration: Sodium and Chloride. NaCl (sodium chloride) is synonymous with table salt, a key ingredient to bodily hydration. If you plan on doing some sweating, go with Ener-C Sport.
As you now see, Ener-C has a pretty similar lineup of ingredients compared to Emergen-C. Choosing one over the other will come down to your recent nutritional choices and desired flavor. For us, the winner in the head-to-head matchup was Ener-C. While it isn’t a true, hydration-enabling product like LMNT or Liquid IV, we found it serves a different purpose and will certainly come in handy from time to time.
1“Pfizer Acquires Alacer Corp., a Leading Vitamin Supplements Company.” Business Wire, 27 Feb. 2012, https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120227006543/en/Pfizer-Acquires-Alacer-Corp.-Leading-Vitamin-Supplements.
2“Vitamin A.” The Nutrition Source, 5 July 2022, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-a/.
3“Vitamin E.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 13 Nov. 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-e/art-20364144.
4Zelman, Contributors: Kathleen. “Iodine a Critically Important Nutrient.” EatRight, https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/iodine-a-critically-important-nutrient.
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