Enhanced Waters: Are They as Good as They Claim to Be? (Part 1)

A few weeks ago[1] I wrote about some of the typical summertime beverages that people sip on regularly. But one category of drinks that I didn’t mention is something called “enhanced waters.”

Enhanced waters are, for the most part, souped-up water laced with vitamins, antioxidants[2], herbs, and/or other nutrients. Some brands claim that they’ll help you relax, or give you more energy, or even make you stronger (all without even lifting a dumbbell!). And of course, they come at a price. Just what are these drinks, anyway? Have you tried them? Are they really any better than plain old water?

Enhanced waters are, in some respects, an answer to the sagging bottled water industry. Bottled waters are a business, so beverage and food companies are always looking for the latest and greatest thing that will help boost sales. The answer? Take water and dump in ingredients that most people don’t need more of and can easily get from food, and then jack up the price to lead people into thinking this is something they need. Oh, and enlist celebrities to endorse it. OK, that seems a little cynical. Maybe there are some merits to these drinks.

Owned by Coca-Cola, Glacéau’s VitaminWater may just be the ringleader of the enhanced waters. This fortified water has even been endorsed by names such as rapper 50 Cent (who has his own special formula), LeBron James, Kelly Clarkson, and Jennifer Aniston! So it must be good, right? And if you visit VitaminWater’s Web site at www.vitaminwater.com[3], you’ll likely be impressed with the catchy graphics and animation. Read the descriptions about each type of VitaminWater, and you’ll probably feel like you should have earned a degree in biochemistry. For example, part of the description of the “rescue” VitaminWater, which contains green tea, reads as follows:

Green tea is a rich source of polyphenolic antioxidants including (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (egcg). Research has shown green tea extract to reduce the proliferation of cancer cells in test tube experiments, and to inhibit growth of tumors of the skin, lung, oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, liver, prostate and other organs in experimental animals.

Once you get past the scientific language used in the descriptions of these drinks, you might wonder why you couldn’t just drink a cup of green tea…

I looked at the label of a 20-ounce bottle of “focus” VitaminWater. Here is what an 8-ounce serving contains:

Of course, most people don’t drink just 8 ounces; if you swig the whole 20-ounce bottle, the payoff is 125 calories and 33 grams of carbohydrate (from sugar). Plus, you’ll get 25% of the RDA for vitamin A and 100% of the RDA for vitamin C. But the real good stuff is in the ingredients: Vapor distilled, deionized and/or reverse osmosis water, crystalline fructose, cane sugar, citric acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vegetable juice, natural flavor, gum acacia, plus electrolytes, lutein, and a handful of B vitamins. Isn’t this really just water sweetened with sugar with some vitamins thrown in?

These beverages typically cost about a dollar, which isn’t a whole lot. But if you’re taking a multivitamin everyday, plus eating an orange, or a tomato, or any of a countless number of fruits and vegetables that contain vitamins A and C, why bother with this? VitaminWater doesn’t contain any fiber[4] or phytonutrients (plant-derived nutrients that may have health benfits), either. And if you drink the regular version, you’ve got to count the carbohydrate. (There is a low-calorie version called VitaminWater 10 that contains just 10 calories and 4 grams carbohydrate per serving, so that’s at least a little better).

More on enhanced waters next week!

  1. A few weeks ago: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/Blog/Amy-Campbell/summertime-thirst-quenchers-more-than-you-bargained-for/
  2. antioxidants: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/Articles/Alternative-Medicine-Complementary-Therapies/antioxidants/
  3. www.vitaminwater.com: http://www.vitaminwater.com/
  4. fiber: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/Articles/Diabetes-Definitions/dietary_fiber/

Source URL: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/enhanced-waters-are-they-as-good-as-they-claim-to-be-part-1/

Amy Campbell: Amy Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition and Meal Planning and a frequent contributor to Diabetes Self-Management and Diabetes & You. She has co-authored several books, including the The Joslin Guide to Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association’s 16 Myths of a “Diabetic Diet,” for which she received a Will Solimene Award of Excellence in Medical Communication and a National Health Information Award in 2000. Amy also developed menus for Fit Not Fat at Forty Plus and co-authored Eat Carbs, Lose Weight with fitness expert Denise Austin. Amy earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Simmons College and a master’s degree in nutrition education from Boston University. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, she is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a member of the American Dietetic Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Amy was formerly a Diabetes and Nutrition Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, where she was responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of disease management programs, including clinical guideline and educational material development, and the development, testing, and implementation of disease management applications. She is currently the Director of Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures. Amy has developed and conducted training sessions for various disease and case management programs and is a frequent presenter at disease management events.

Disclaimer of Medical Advice: Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information, which comes from qualified medical writers, does not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.