Vitamin Water – Is It Really Good for Your Health?
Dr. Kristie Leong
The newest buzz in the beverage industry is bottled vitamin water. With soft drink sales declining, vitamin water and other alternative beverages seem to be picking up the slack. What exactly is vitamin water and why is it so popular?
Vitamin water, as the name would imply, is usually distilled water that's been fortified with vitamins along with some form of sweetener and flavouring agent. The idea is that drinking these waters could satisfy certain nutritional requirements for vitamins while providing adequate hydration. The marketing message being broadcast by the manufacturers of these drinks is that vitamin waters are a healthy alternative to soft drinks which have fallen out of favor recently due to health concerns.
Is vitamin water healthy? It would be natural to assume that a product fortified with vitamins would be healthier than regular water or a soft drink. Although it does appear that these products do have the vitamin content they advertise, there's some question as to whether the added vitamins remain stable after the bottles rest on the shelves for long periods of time waiting to be used. There’s some thought that the added vitamins may break down under the temperature changes they’re exposed to in hot warehouses which may negate their health potential.
Another problem is the artificial ingredients added to many of these vitamin waters. Most of them contained some form of sweetener which may be a synthetic one such as aspartame or sucralose. For some people, artificial sweeteners can cause digestive problems and other health related issues which may offset any potential vitamin water health benefits. Plus, most vitamin waters have some form of artificial colouring which may not be safe if consumed in high quantities. Some of these waters are also sweetened with high fructose corn syrup which has been shown to contribute to obesity and other potential health problems.
Another reason to question vitamin water health benefits is that people who choose to drink these drinks may assume they've met their vitamin quota for the day from simply drinking vitamin water. Thus, they may avoid eating the fruits and vegetables they would have previously eaten to fulfill their daily nutritional requirements. Vitamins added to water should not be considered a substitute for a healthy diet due to questions about their loss of viability during prolonged storage.
Analysis: If vitamin waters are carefully selected, they’re probably healthier than drinking a soft drink. It's important to select a brand that’s low in calories and one that isn't sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. A good example is Aquafina which has only twenty calories per bottle. Vitamin waters should not be considered a substitute for adequate fruit and vegetable intake and you should continue to eat at least five to seven servings of fruit and vegetables each day. You may also want to consider other healthy alternatives for hydration which may have fewer calories and carbohydrates including green and white teas. These teas can provide you with healthy antioxidants and are essentially calorie free. Although the health benefits of vitamin water may be a bit overplayed, they can be a good substitute for those trying to give up soft drinks.
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