Nutrient-Enhanced Water

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A number of companies have taken advantage of consumers' demand for bottled water and desire to lead healthier lives by developing nutrient-enhanced, flavored bottled waters. In fact, the sales of Propel, a vitamin-enhanced water beverage, topped $100 million in 2002, according to a press release issued by Pepsi Co.

Are there any benefits to nutrient water? Does it provide more health benefits than consuming fresh fruits and vegetables? These are only a few of the questions that a consumer might consider while standing in a grocery store aisle and deciding whether to purchase one of the many brands of "enhanced" water.

Three popular nutrient enhanced water brands are Pepsi Co.'s Propel Fitness water, Pepsi's Aquafina Essentials, and Glaceau's Vitaminwater.

Here's a quick overview of some nutrients added to the three waters:

Brand Calories (per 8 oz.) Vitamin C Vitamin E Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Niacin Vitamin A Pantothenic Acid
Propel 10 10 10 25 4 25 0 25
Aquafina Essentials (multi-V) 40 25 25 25 25 25 0 25
Vitaminwater (multi-V) 40 100 100 0 0 0 100 0

Although the enhanced waters contain nutrients, if a person were to consume a healthy diet, the nutrients provided by the water would be unnecessary. Nutritionists recommend the consumption of nutrients from a variety of foods, as opposed to artificially enhanced waters. For instance, 1 medium banana contains more vitamin B6 than a bottle of Propel; a mere 1/8 of a small orange has a comparable amount of vitamin C.

Furthermore, the vitamins added to these beverages are present in such small amounts that a consumer would have to drink several bottles of enhanced water in order to obtain 100% of the daily value of certain vitamins, according to Jackie Berning, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association in an article on Intellihealth.com.

Additionally, price is a factor. The average price of the enhanced water is $2; over the course of a year, a consumer who drinks one bottle daily will have spent over $700 on vitamins that could have been easily obtained in a healthy diet.

However, nutrient waters are a less caloric alternative to many sodas and juices. The nutrient waters have only 10-40% of the calories that a can of Coca-Cola has. The added flavorings provide the calories in the nutrient-enhanced waters. Furthermore, these flavorings may encourage people to drink water, which is generally a good thing. Preventing fatigue, headaches, indigestion, and dehydration while maintaining an overall healthy body are some of the benefits of water consumption according to health professionals.

The consumer must make rational decisions about the consumption of nutrient-enhanced water. "Enhanced" water provides a less-caloric alternative to many other beverages, but these products provide no significant health benefits for those who already eat healthy, well-balanced diets.

Responses:

June 17, 2003

Tinkering with nutritional promises is becoming increasingly absurd.

First, there was the idea of adding stimulant drugs to the diet (e.g., ephedra, hordenine, citrus aurantium, gurana). Now comes the idea of adding homeopathic levels of nutrients to water.

At this rate, the gains made in nutrition during the twentieth century will reverse.

tnt.mtg


January 1, 2004

What makes these fitness waters lo-cal? The artificial sweetener sucralose. I've not seen much comment on that aspect, which is more of a concern, I would think, than unneeded nutrients.

Kathy Probst

The editor replies:

There are no proven negative health effects from artificial sweeteners, though there are frequent rumors and scare campaigns about them.

Todd Seavey
Editor
HealthFactsAndFears.com