Is vitamin water actually good for you? It’s complicated, experts say.
The global market for electrolyte and vitamin waters is increasing, reaching a staggering $7.2 billion in 2021, with some analysts predicting that sales will climb to $11.9 billion by 2027.
Whether you consume vitamin waters or other electrolyte drinks regularly or just on occasion, experts say it’s helpful to understand what goes into these drinks before making them a staple in your diet.
Though the infusion of electrolytes and vitamins make these popular beverages tempting to athletes and the health-conscious alike, nutritionists are concerned about the presence of too much sugar in the drinks and recommend keeping the some considerations in mind before stocking up on too much vitamin water.
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What is vitamin water?
Vitamin water is a beverage made up of water and water-soluble minerals and vitamins such as A, C, and several B-group vitamins. Popular versions of the liquid are frequently infused with electrolytes as well and come in a variety of flavors, each usually sweetened with sugar or other natural or artificial sweeteners.
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Is vitamin water good for you?
The presence of vitamins and minerals make the drink a preferred option over soda, and the convenience of being able to consume the liquid on the go is another plus. “As a nutritional psychiatrist, I am enthusiastic about the many innovations that allow us to optimize the nutritive content of our diet,” says Uma Naidoo, MD, director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the author of “This is Your Brain on Food.” At the same time, Naidoo cautions against relying too heavily on any form of supplementation over making better eating choices in the first place. “You can’t supplement your way out of a bad diet,” she cautions.
Do the benefits of vitamin waters outweigh the harms?
There’s no question that the vitamins found in vitamin water are important to one’s health. What’s more, electrolyte-infused drinks are proven to improve physical performance during exercise and can help hydration.
At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns against consuming food and drinks with too many “added sugars” because they are known to contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“Most of the commercial vitamin waters contain sugar or other sweeteners that can be harmful,” explains Walter Willett, MD, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Indeed, one analysis found that a bottle of one of the most popular brands of vitamin water sold in the U.S., “harbor(s) the same amount of fructose as a bottle of (Coca-Cola).”
Willett also notes that nutrient-infused beverages are “a very expensive way to get vitamins” and recommends drinking plain water instead. “If additional vitamins are desired, it is better to take a standard multivitamin that should cost less than 10 cents per day,” he says.
Is vitamin water hard on your kidneys?
Another concern regarding vitamin water is that it might be hard on one’s kidneys. Because the vitamins found in vitamin water are already present in many of the other food options people consume regularly, the excess vitamins have to be flushed out through one’s urinary tract, which might negatively impact one’s kidney function. The National Kidney Foundation warns against over supplementing, and notes on its website that, “supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and many products can be dangerous, especially for people with kidney disease.”
Are you drinking too much vitamin water?
Consumed sparingly, vitamin water isn’t likely to cause harm, but anyone interested in taking it for its health benefits may want to consider more natural forms of nutrition.
“If we’re taking supplements instead of eating whole foods, we’re missing out on other vital nutrients that food has to offer,” says Naidoo. A “balanced diet that’s rich in healthy fats, clean proteins, and complex carbohydrates,” is preferred, she says. “If you’re choosing a supplement such as vitamin water, read the ingredient label and avoid ones made with added sugars or artificial sweeteners.”
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