This question is frequently asked by those hoping to consume water without having to endure glass after bland glass of plain old water. Vitamin Water was introduced as a product marketed toward those who seek a healthier lifestyle while avoiding what some consider the misery of drinking water without additives. Vitamin Water, from a health perspective, is not inherently good for you.
Unfortunately, Vitamin Water does not represent a healthy alternative to water and could be put in the same category as soda from a dietary perspective. It is rather simplistic to say the Glaceau (a Coca Cola company) product is simply not good for you. Let’s examine a few aspects that make Vitamin Water more of a treat than a water replacement.
There is a Reason for the Sweet Taste of Vitamin Water
It should not surprise you to learn that Vitamin Water contains sugar. It has a sweet flavor, after all. However, it may shock many hoping to use the drink as a water replacement that it comes with a diet price tag of 120 calories. Almost all of those calories come from its main source of taste - sugar.
Vitamin Water does point out that the product contains roughly half the amount of sugar than its distant Coca Cola cousins known as soda. However, in the United States specifically, a lot of that sugar comes in the form of crystalline fructose (a notoriously bad sugar). Other countries have eliminated the use of the fructose sweetener and Vitamin Water relies on plain (cane) sugar in those areas.
So, why are we so concerned about the sugar content in Vitamin Water? Sugar in drinks is considered an empty calorie. Meaning, the calories certainly impact weight control but have no function in satiation. So, drinking a 120-calorie drink offers little in the way of feeling full, is not more hydrating than a glass of water, and can lead to weight gain.
Added sugars can result in some significant health problems, as well. Diabetes, oral health problems like tooth decay and certain cardiac diseases have all been associated with excess sugar intake. Drinking a Vitamin Water will certainly not end in disease but replacing water with them entirely is not a great idea.
Experts suggest added sugars, like those found in most sweet drinks, should make up roughly five to ten percent of daily calorie intake. With an average 20-ounce bottle of Vitamin Water featuring 32 grams of sugar, one bottle consumes an entire day’s allotment of recommended sugar.
What About the Vitamins in Vitamin Water?
Every bottle of Vitamin Water features some amount of Vitamin B and Vitamin C, with both being between 50 and 150 percent of the recommended daily intake. Both of these vitamins play a role in many bodily processes including homeostasis and appropriate immune responses.
Some flavors of Vitamin Water contain other vitamins and minerals like Vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and more. With all these added vitamins, the health benefits must outweigh the sugar problem, right? Wrong.
The amount of these vitamins found in Vitamin Water are found in a typical daily diet. Consuming an abundance of them is not beneficial, as any unused portion is eliminated rather than stored in the body. It is highly unlikely that anyone could consume enough Vitamin Water to get too many of the nutrients but there are studies linking excessive Vitamin A and E intake with early mortality.
Is Vitamin Water Bad For You?
Like the answer to the main question, no. Enjoying the taste and texture of a Vitamin Water is not necessarily bad for you. However, like almost everything we consume, moderation is key.
Vitamin Water cannot replace the hydration and health benefits that plain water provides. It can offer an alternative to a soda, which typically has twice as much sugar.
Coca Cola has faced scrutiny and even legal battles over the representation of Vitamin Water as a “healthy option.” Even the company who makes it agrees that no one should consider it as such.
Moderation and a generally healthy lifestyle go hand in hand. The Vitamin Water lesson is simple. Take the time to read labels and ingredient lists. If you feel like having a sugary, enjoyable drink here and there - go for it. Just do not consider it a replacement for water or be fooled into thinking it is good for you.