Is Horlicks Good For Health? The Truth About This Malt Drink

Horlicks is one of the most popular malt-based drinks among people. It was created in the late 1800s by two pharmacists, James Horlick and William Horlick. Since then, it has emerged as the biggest selling malt-based drink in India. It has been marketed as a nutrition drink for more than 100 years. It claims to improve mental agility, strengthen the immune system, build bone strength and help with healthy weight gain.

However, there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims. In fact, some sources claim that Horlicks does nothing special for one’s health and is simply a source of added sugar.

So, what is the truth? Is Horlicks good for your health?

In this post, I will do a complete breakdown of Horlicks, from its ingredients to nutritional value, so that you can find out whether it is good for your health or not.

Let’s start with the Horlicks nutrition.

Important note: There are many flavours of the Horlicks in the market, but for this post, I have chosen the classic malt flavour.

Also read: Is Bournvita Good For Health? Find Out Here

Horlicks nutrition facts

Horlicks is frequently promoted as a healthy drink for people of all ages, from toddlers to adults. According to the claims, it is clinically proven to increase bone density, strengthen the child, sharpen minds, increase blood levels, and promote healthy weight gain.

Let’s take a closer look at Horlick’s nutritional value and see whether or not these claims are true.


The protein content labelled on the box of Horlicks may appear high at first glance, but that is only if you consume 100g of it in a day, which is obviously impractical, unhealthy and also not recommended by the company itself.

Protein is essential for your child’s development. It aids in various bodily functions, including tissue recovery and repair in the muscles, skin, organs, blood, hair, and nails. However, the protein levels in Horlicks is surprisingly very low.

A single serving of classic Horlicks (1.8 tablespoons or 27g) provides roughly around 3g protein, which is very low.

Therefore, we can conclude that Horlicks, which claims to make you grow stronger, is actually very low in protein.


The classic Horlicks contains 13.5g of sugar in a 100g serving. This comes to 3.6g per serving, meaning each serving of Horlicks has around 1 teaspoon of sugar. While this is not good, it is also not very bad.

Classic Horlicks has the least amount of sugar if compared to other malt-based drinks in the market, such as Bournvita, which contains 37g of sugar per 100g, Pediasure, which has 22g of sugar per 100g, and Complan, which has 21g of sugar per 100g.

However, the sugar content also varies depending on which flavour you choose. For example, if you choose the chocolate flavour of Horlicks, it contains 30g of sugar per 100g.


Horlicks is low in fat containing 2g per 100g serving. This is good for those who are watching their fat intake.

Vitamin D

Horlicks claim to contain many vital nutrients, one of which is vitamin D.

As per Mayoclinic, It is recommended that all individuals, including children and adults, consume 15mcg of vitamin D daily. 

Classic Horlicks contains 9.5mcg of Vitamin D per 100g. This does not even come close to the daily requirements of vitamin D. To reach the daily suggested intake, an individual would have to consume nearly 10 tablespoons of Horlicks per day, which is clearly not practical.

Also read: Is Boost Good For Health? The Pros And Cons You Need To Know


A single serving of classic Horlicks contains 200mg of calcium, about 20% of the recommended daily. This makes Horlicks a good source of calcium; however, there is something you might not know.

As per research, sugar is an inhibitor of vitamin D and calcium. Intake of sugar increases the urinary excretion of calcium. It also reduces intestinal absorption of calcium by lowering vitamin D levels.

That means even if the Horlicks claims to increase bone density due to good calcium levels, the sugar content suppresses the benefits of calcium.

This is one of the reasons why people should drink their milk without adding table sugar.


Classic Horlicks is an excellent source of Iron, providing 7mg per serving. This equals 70% of the daily recommended for men and 45% for women. While this amount of iron is high, there is a twist.

In India, a large percentage of the population drinks cow’s milk. According to research, cow milk inhibits iron absorption, and its consumption is a leading cause of iron deficiency in children.

This means that even if Horlicks is fortified with high levels of Iron, consuming it with cow milk will suppress iron absorption.

Other vitamins and minerals

The Horlicks claims to have more than 20 nutrients, including various vitamins and minerals. It contains vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, and B12 and minerals like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, sodium, chloride, copper, iodine and zinc.

So, is Horlicks good for health? Nutritionally?

If we speak in terms of nutrition, Horlicks does have a long list of nutrients, but most of them are present in very small quantities as compared to the daily recommended intake. In addition, it contains added sugar which normally suppresses the absorption of certain nutrients in your body, making them ineffective.

In conclusion, the nutritional value of Horlicks is very low. Relying on it alone to get your daily dose of nutrients is not a good idea.

Also read: Women Horlicks Review: The Benefits, Ingredients, Side Effects, and More

Ingredients in Horlicks

The most common ingredients used in Horlicks include Malt, milk solids, sugar, Edible iodized salt, soy protein isolate, emulsifiers (INS 471), stabilizers (INS 412), Acidity regulators ( INS 501(ii), INS 500(ii)).

Let’s learn a little about these ingredients so you can know better about what you are consuming.


Malt is a type of cereal grain such as barley, wheat or millet used to produce the malted-based drink. Most of the time, food companies use a mixture of different grains to make Malt-based drinks.

Milk solids

Milk solids are a type of protein that is derived from milk. They are used in food drinks to improve their flavour and mouthfeel. These are similar to milk powder found in the markets.

Edible iodized salt

Edible iodized salt is most common in every food product and is a good thing. It is a type of salt that has been treated with Iodine. Iodine deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies among people. Therefore food companies add iodized salt to their products.

Soy protein isolate

Soy protein isolate is a type of protein that is derived from soybeans. It is cheaper than other proteins and is commonly used as a food additive.


Emulsifiers are food additives that are used to create a variety of textures and to prevent the separation of ingredients. Horlicks uses (INS 471), which is considered safe in limited amounts.


Stabilizers are food additives used in food to help maintain its texture and structure. Horlicks uses Guar gum (412) stabilizer, which is natural and completely safe.

Also read: Is Pediasure Good For kids? Potential Benefits And Downsides

Acidity regulators

Acidity regulators are food additives used to improve a food’s taste, preserve the freshness of food, or prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Two common acidity regulators used in Horlicks are sodium bicarbonate or baking soda (INS 500(ii)) and Potassium bicarbonate (INS 501(ii))

While looking at the ingredients of Horlicks, I did not find any toxic or harmful ingredients. It does contain acidity regulators, stabilizers and emulsifiers, which many people avoid thinking are bad for health. However, they are approved by food authorities and are safe to consume in limited amounts.

In addition, malt is considered as an added sugar, which means it can be harmful for the health in high amounts and can lead to chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Final words: Is Horlicks Good for health?

While Horlicks contain some beneficial vitamins and minerals, most are in low amounts. To consume the recommended daily value of nutrients, you would need to drink a large quantity of Horlicks, which is not recommended.

In addition, the high sugar content (malt + added sugar) is the main reason that makes it bad for your health.

Despite all of this, if you still wish to drink Horlicks, I recommend the Lite badaam flavour, as it has no added sugar. Additionally, restrict your consumption to only 2 servings a day with active life and full meals.

Did you find this information useful? Please share it with others, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below.

Meanwhile, here are a few other posts that might be helpful for you.


Is Horlicks good for weight loss?

Horlicks is not good for weight loss as it’s high in sugar, which might hinder your weight loss efforts. Also, depending solely on one drink or food for weight loss is not practical. You must have an active lifestyle with a healthy diet.

Is Horlicks good for diabetes?

Horlicks is not a recommended drink for people with diabetes due to its sugar content. Additionally, it also contains malt, which is a form of sugar. There has not been enough research to determine how malt affects blood sugar levels. Therefore, if you have diabetes, it is best to avoid malt-based drinks.

Horlicks or Bournvita, which is better?

When compared, Horlicks is better than Bournvita for several reasons:
1. Horlick’s has lower sugar content.
2. Horlick’s does not use artificial sweeteners such as maltodextrin.
3. Horlick’s does not use artificial flavours.

Is Horlicks good for kids?

Malt-based drinks like Horlicks are high in sugar content. It is well established that sugar is one of the most addictive ingredients, and adding these drinks to children’s milk can cause them to rely on these sugary drinks.
This can lead to many health problems in young children, such as weight gain, obesity, and diabetes.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid these malt-based drinks in your children’s diet and instead make them eat organic and unprocessed foods.

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Yatender is the founder of Investohealth! He provides thoroughly researched, unbiased reviews analyzing packaged foods' ingredients, nutrition, and health impacts. Join him on a quest for healthier, more informed eating habits.

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