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Are Vitamin Waters Healthy or Harmful?

Vitamin-fortified waters have been extremely popular over the last few years and interest in these seemingly-healthy beverages has continued to grow exponentially. Producers of the brightly-colored drinks market them as healthy alternatives to the recently demonized sugary soft drinks, but all-too-often vitamin-enhanced waters contain similar amounts of sugar and calories as their carbonated counterparts.

More importantly, just because these waters are fortified with vitamins and other nutrients doesn't negate the simple fact that these beverages are often still loaded with sugar and other artificial additives. In fact, a single bottle of Vitaminwater contains 33 grams of sugar, more than most 12-ounce cans of regular soda.

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Unsubstantiated Health Claims

Vitamin-fortified water is simply sugar water with synthetic (man-made) vitamins. Synthetic vitamins haven't been proven to provide the same health benefits as naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals that we obtain from food. Additionally, companies that produce these beverages are using celebrities and athletes to promote these beverages as being healthy ways to hydrate. These deceptive marketing tactics can mislead consumers, especially children.

Serving Sizes

Another major problem with vitamin-fortified waters is the serving size per container. Many times, we end up drinking an entire bottle of this brightly-colored stuff when most bottles technically contain more than one serving (often two or two and a half servings per bottle).

With more than two-thirds of the American population now qualifying as overweight or obese, excess calories from liquids are a growing concern. Health experts believe that what you drink may have an even greater impact on your waistline than what you eat. Shockingly, liquids contribute almost 25 percent of daily calories in the American diet. Cutting down on sugary beverages, fortified or not, may significantly impact the health status of many Americans by dramatically reducing their total caloric intake.

Cost

Tap water is free and is regulated for safety by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which routinely tests for contaminants to protect the safety of the public. Considering the fact that a single bottle of vitamin-fortified water can cost you as much as $3.50, these beverages can end up costing you a pretty penny over time. To avoid breaking the bank with little bang for your buck, opt for cost-free and sugar-free drinks instead.

A Healthier Alternative

Instead of falling victim to the ridiculous marketing ploys of the manufacturers of these so-called "nutrient-enhanced" waters, try hydrating yourself with truly healthy beverages. Of course, good ol' H2O is your best bet when it comes to guilt-free hydration, but if water is a little too boring, you can always add a squirt of real citrus juice to up the flavor factor. Simply slice up a lemon, lime, or orange and squeeze some of the juice into your water. Cucumber slices add a nice dose of refreshing flavor as well. Other smart thirst quenchers include unsweetened tea and coffee (add some skim milk for a little shot of bone-building calcium).

To stay healthy, rely on Mother Nature to provide all the vitamins and minerals you need. Eat a well-balanced diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.

Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children. If you would be interested in working with Kari one-on-one, sign-up for FitDay Dietitian.



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