Is Wetter Water Better Water?

There’s a huge market for waters with additives: vitamins, minerals, herbs such as ginseng and ginkgo, flavorings, mint, aloe, fiber, green tea, caffeine, and more. On market shelves and in many vending machines, you’ll find products such as Vitamin Water, Dasani Plus, SmartWater, Propel Fitness Water, SoBe Lifewater, and Snapple Antioxidant Water.  These waters are usually not as sugary as a regular soft drinks—though some, like most VitaminWater products, do contain as much added sugar. The vitamins and minerals in them are certainly not going to make you healthy, boost immunity or energy, or relax you, despite the claims. ConsumerLab.com recently found that one vitamin water had 15 times as much folic acid as claimed—1, 500 micrograms, a potentially risky level for some people if they drink it regularly (see Wellness Letter, September 2009). On the other hand, unless you drink the water with food, you cannot absorb much of the added vitamin E, D, A, or K, since these need some fat to be absorbed. You do not need the herbs and other substances in these products.

In early 2009 the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola for health claims it makes for VitaminWater—claims that the Center says are illegal under FDA regulations and border on fraud. “Defense,” “Rescue,” “Energy,” and “Endurance” are some of the names of the flavors, and the website claims “more immunity,” “more sustained energy,” “body restoration,” “more metabolism,” and so on. These are just buzz words. Finally, as you might have predicted, there’s a water that claims to be organic. Agricultural products may (or may not) be organic, but water cannot be organic. “Super-oxygenated” waters claim to have more oxygen than ordinary waters. But the added oxygen doesn’t add up to much, and there’s no health benefit to this. One product even advertises itself as “wetter.”

There’s probably no serious harm in any of these waters, but they are expensive, and some are sugary. The claims might be enough to make you queasy, even if the water does not. If you want additives in your water, try a slice of lemon, lime, or strawberry, or a small amount of your favorite juice.

(source: UC Berkeley)

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