woman drinking beverage

What Is a Functional Beverage?

From beauty drinks to energy shots, functional beverages offer physical and mental benefits that consumers want. Learn what a functional beverage is and explore the different types of functional beverages and functional ingredients.


  • From energy to gut health to weight management, functional beverages provide a wide array of benefits to support consumers’ healthy lifestyles. 
  • When many people think of functional beverages, they think of energy drinks or protein shakes. However, there are many other types of functional beverages like function waters, coffees, teas, and more. 
  • Functional beverages can contain a variety of beneficial ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and more. 

What Is a Functional Beverage?

A functional beverage is a beverage that provides a beneficial effect beyond the essential nutrients the body needs. These health and wellness benefits come from a variety of functional ingredients, ranging from probiotics to caffeine to bioactive proteins. The functional beverage market continues to grow as consumers become more aware of how functional beverages can help support their health and lifestyles.

Benefits of a Functional Beverage

Functional beverages offer a convenient and refreshing way for consumers to get the benefits they’re looking for. Some consumers are interested in functional benefits that can help them manage a specific health condition—for example, managing blood cholesterol levels with beta-glucan fiber or supporting digestive health with probiotics.

Others might be seeking cognitive or mood benefits such as more energy or better focus. Even for consumers interested in general health, functional beverages can stand out on the shelf as a better-for-you option and a way to give the body a little extra support without having to take a supplement.

Benefits consumers might seek in a functional beverage include:

  • Energy
  • Relaxation
  • Focus
  • Immunity support 
  • Digestive health
  • Sleep aid
  • Weight management
  • Muscle building
  • Joint health
  • Bone support
  • Cholesterol management
  • Cognitive health
  • Eye health
  • Skin and hair support
  • Stress relief
  • Healthy aging

Types of Functional Beverages

Some of today’s most popular beverages—such as energy drinks and meal replacement drinks—are functional beverages. However, even these well-known beverages continue to evolve, with some energy drinks now including functional ingredients for vision, memory, and reflexes to meet the needs of gamers. Some meal replacement drinks have added bioactive proteins to support weight management.

boy playing video games

A newer functional beverage on the rise is the wellness beverage, which might contain L-theanine for calming and adaptogenic mushrooms that can help the body cope with stress. Beauty beverages with functional ingredients such as collagen and antioxidants is another functional beverage trend to watch. These support beauty from within by nourishing the skin, hair, and nails.

Nootropic beverages are beverages that aim to boost cognitive function, with a particular emphasis on focus and memory. Nootropics make up a broad category of ingredients that range from phosphatidylserine to grape seed extract. Functional ingredients can be added to almost any type of beverage to turn it into a functional beverage.

The main categories of functional beverages in the market are:

  • Energy drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Sports protein and meal replacement drinks
  • Yogurt beverages
  • Dairy alternative beverages
  • Functional juices
  • Functional waters
  • Functional carbonates
  • Functional coffees and teas

Functional Ingredients for Beverages

Functional beverages can include ingredients from a wide variety of categories. Ingredients that offer a functional benefit can be found in common foods such as grapes and oats, as well as in spices like turmeric and cinnamon. There are also certain types of macronutrients and micronutrients that produce bioactive effects in the body.

Functional ingredients showing up in functional beverages include: 

  • Vitamins 
  • Minerals
  • Amino acids
  • Bioactive proteins
  • Functional fibers
  • Omega-3s
  • MCTs
  • Antioxidants
  • Botanicals
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Mushrooms
  • Probiotics
  • Caffeine
  • Melatonin
  • CBD
seeds in spoons

Making a Beverage with Benefits

As consumers become increasingly proactive about their physical and mental health, functional beverages will become more popular still. These beverages can meet a wide range of needs—plus, they make it easy for consumers to make a healthy choice.

Learn more about Glanbia Nutritionals' functional beverage offerings to add today’s in-demand benefits to your beverages.

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