Is Vitamin-Enhanced Water Better For You Than Regular Water?

From TIME - January 10, 2018

Water used to come in just one flavor: plain.

But it wasnt long before entrepreneurs saw an opportunity for H2O 2.0. If plain water is good for you, then water enhanced with vitamins, minerals and electrolytes must be even healthierright?

Not quite. Most of the claims are marketing ploys to sell water at a higher price, says Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group. They are not about scientific evidence, and not about the publics health.

But that hasnt stopped people from buying it. Sales of bottled water in the U.S. increased more than 6% to $15 billion in 2015, according to a report from the market research agency Mintel, and much of that interest came from water enhanced with vitamins.

These types of nutritional watersincluding Vitaminwater, Propel and Lifewtr made by beverage giants Coca-Cola, Pepsi and smaller start-upsare enhanced with everything from vitamins, minerals and other seemingly healthy additives such as electrolytes. They come in every flavor and color: even blk.water, a murky beverage that claims to contain fulvic acid and other minerals from soil, aquatic environments and sediment.

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The implied message behind boosted waters like these is that drinking them can give you more of whats good for your body. But its worth looking closely at whats in the water and why. Electrolytes, for example, are added to some waters (like Lifewtr) simply for taste, and arent present in large enough quantities to likely make much of a health impact.

Plus, most Americans get the nutrients they need from their diet, nutrition experts say. Its also possible to get too much of a good thing, says Alice Lichtenstein, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University and director of the cardiovascular nutrition lab. If we exceed the recommended daily allowance [of vitamins and nutrients], there is no indication that will increase our capacity, she says. I havent seen any compelling evidence to indicate a benefit to willy-nilly drinking of supplement water.

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Courts have taken notice, making it clear that enhanced waters cant promise the world when it comes to health claims. In 2015, a judge ruled in a New York and California case against Coca-Cola, which makes Vitaminwater, and determined that the company could no longer claim that their waters could support optimal metabolic function with antioxidants that may reduce the risk of chronic diseases or contribute to an active lifestyle by promoting healthy, pain-free functioning of joints, or that they promote optimal functioning of the immune system.


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