If plain water bores you, you may reach for vitaminwater instead. Anything with vitamins must be healthy, right? Not necessarily.
Despite its healthy claims, vitaminwater may actually increase your risk of weight gain and other medical issues.
Here’s a look at what it contains, other than vitamins and water.
What is vitaminwater?
Coca-Cola bottles vitaminwater. It’s enriched with vitamins and minerals. It comes in several varieties. Blends like “energize,” “focus,” “revive,” and “defense” are marketed to help you improve a health concern like dehydration, low energy, or a poor state of mind.
vitaminwater has a flavor for almost every taste, such as dragon fruit, tropical citrus, lemonade, iced tea, orange-orange, grape, and acai-blueberry-pomegranate. The varieties get their flavors from fruit extracts and natural flavors. There’s no fresh fruit juice in vitaminwater.
vitaminwater has a product line which contains no sugar, called vitaminwater zero. Each variety is sweetened with stevia leaf extract or erythritol instead of cane sugar. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol. It’s sweet like sugar but has zero calories. Some people claim it has an aftertaste. Others believe it tastes exactly like sugar.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, but it’s typically tolerated better than other sugar alcohols. These types of sweeteners may cause digestive side effects like diarrhea, gas, and bloating when consumed in large quantities. If you are sensitive to sugar alcohols or have chronic stomach issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, talk to your doctor before trying vitaminwater zero blends that are sweetened with erythritol.
The amount of sugar in vitaminwater
One teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams. According to vitaminwater’s website, all flavors with the exception of their vitaminwater zero line, contain 31 to 32 grams of sugar.
That’s about 7 teaspoons of sugar per bottle! To keep this in perspective, a 12-ounce can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar, which is around 9 teaspoons. The sugar content in vitaminwater is much more comparable to that of Coke and other sodas than water. If you drink multiple bottles of vitaminwater a day, the amount of sugar you’re consuming is excessive.
vitaminwater also contains crystalline fructose. This ingredient is made from corn and is almost 100 percent fructose. It contains more fructose than high fructose corn syrup. Research shows that consuming soft drinks high in fructose may increase your risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Drinking sugary drinks of any kind on a regular basis may lead to serious health problems. According to the Boston Health Commission, sugary drinks increase your risk of:
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- dental cavities
- metabolic syndrome
The vitamins in vitaminwater
Most vitaminwater contains vitamins C and B. A few varieties contain vitamin E. All of these vitamins are important, but it’s best to get them from whole foods, not a sugary drink. You get the vitamins you need when you eat a balanced diet rich in:
- lean meats
- whole grains
Caffeine in vitaminwater
vitaminwater’s energy blend contains caffeine. Caffeine’s a stimulant, which boosts alertness. It may increase metabolism and lift your spirits. Caffeine may also cause negative side effects, including:
- rapid heart rate
The more caffeine you ingest, the higher your risk of side effects. Some people are sensitive to even small amounts of caffeine. If you’re sensitive or have a medical condition that caffeine may irritate, such as a heart arrhythmia, you should avoid vitaminwater. Check labels for varieties containing caffeine.
Electrolytes in vitaminwater
Electrolytes are minerals in body fluids that have an electric charge. They include:
Electrolytes are critical to the proper function of your nerves, muscles, and brain.
Electrolytes are lost when you sweat. Many people turn to electrolyte drinks after a workout. But you don’t necessarily need one every time you break a sweat. Electrolyte drinks are generally recommended if your workout lasts longer than 30 minutes.
Some vitaminwaters contain potassium and magnesium, but not in the same drink. No vitaminwaters contain sodium or calcium. According to the American Council on Exercise, sodium may be the most important electrolyte of all.
Many people blame low potassium for muscle cramping, but it’s more likely to be caused by low sodium. In addition, low sodium may lead to hyponatremia. This is an emergency condition which occurs when your body has too much water and not enough sodium.
It helps keep you hydrated, but vitaminwater does not contain the right balance of minerals to offer much electrolyte benefit after intense exercise.
Vitaminwater consumer lawsuit
In 2010, consumers cried foul about vitaminwater’s marketing tactics. Some filed class-action lawsuits against The Coca-Cola Company. The lawsuits accused the beverage giant of using deceptive labeling and making misleading health claims.
Without accepting blame, Coca-Cola agreed to settle the lawsuits. Coca-Cola is required to prominently display the words “with sweeteners” in two places on the label. They’re also required to stop making some health claims about their products. Damages will not be paid to the plaintiffs. But Coca-Cola must pay their lawyer fees.
Drinking a bottle of vitaminwater now and then isn’t likely to harm you. It won’t sabotage your healthy lifestyle. Most liquids help you meet your daily fluid intake, and vitaminwater helps keep you hydrated. But if you drink it regularly, all bets are off. The high amount of sugar knocks it out of the running as a healthy drink.
The main ingredients in vitaminwater are reverse osmosis water, crystalline fructose, and cane sugar. It is basically sugar water with some vitamins and natural flavors added. Vitaminwater zero is a better choice because it has no added sugar, but drinking pure water is the healthiest option. If you don’t like to drink plain water, infuse it with fresh fruit like lemons, oranges, or berries.