The Unhealthy Truth About Vitamin Water

The Unhealthy Truth About Vitamin Water

Vitamin Water labels and ads are both pretty and incredibly well marketed, but lets talk about what’s actually in Vitamin Water.

Vitamin Water. Sounds ideal, right? Vitamin infused water. What could I possibly have to hate on about that? I mean, it's not like we're talking about fat burners!

 

Well, to be honest, there are a few things. While Vitamin Water labels and ads are very aesthetically pleasing and incredibly well marketed, lets talk about what’s going on the inside of that bottle.

Hey, all you athletes out there, did you know that certain flavors of vitamin water can cause you to test positive on drug tests?! Yeah, six Vitamin Water flavors contain NCAA banned substances like caffeine, guarana seed extract, taurine, L-theanine and ECGC. (FYI, taurine is also found in Red Bull and ECGC is the active ingredient in green tea extract). Check out this poster made by the NCAA:

 

Wow, as silly as it seems, a sugary chug is probably not worth that basketball scholarship huh? Besides the concern with banned ingredients, when it comes down to it, Vitamin Water is really not much better than diet soda. Vitamin Water = Soda – Bubbles + Water Soluble Vitamins.

The deal with water soluble vitamins (Vitamins B + C) is this: your body can only absorb so much of them. So if you ingest more than your body can utilize, guess what happens? Excretion. Not clear yet? Here’s a little jingle I made up, feel free to sing it, rap to it, or make it into haiku:

“Too much Vitamin B and Vitamin C
will make me have
expensive pee”

Catchy, no? So, it’s on to the sugar side of things. Let's check out the label:

There are 50 calories a serving. Fine. But there are also 2.5 servings in a bottle. Getting tricky, food label Gods! Now you understand what your algebra teachers were talking about when they told you that you would need math in the real world. So, we have 50 calories a serving and 2.5 servings in a bottle, which means this little guy is giving you 125 calories from straight up sugar in a chug. Sports drinks like Gatorade are right there with Vitamin water with 122 calories a bottle. Are these any better than soda? Not by much. A 12 oz coke has 140 calories.

Confused? Not surprising then that:

A) Vitamin Water is owned by Coca Cola, and,
B) Vitamin water is being sued for making false health claims!

Ta DA! One of our very first label reading 101's. Check out the number of servings in a package and do the math! 

Need a replacement for Vitamin Water or Gatorade? Well, Vitamin Water has come out with “Vitamin Water Zero”, their healthy version (calorie free) while Gatorade has come out with propel (25 calories/20 oz bottle).                           

    

Not necessarily on the top of my list for recommendations due to the faux-sugars, but if you are dying for a Vitamin Water or Gatorade fix, these are better options. 

Ideally, you’d be a follow Rule 1 of the 5 Ways to Lose Weight and become a water-only convert, but we can make that a long-term goal. We’re all about small changes that make big differences, right? So if you are big into the sugary juices and drinks, start cutting back and when you do have one, dilute it 50% with water. 

In the mean time, start checking out labels for the number of servings in a package and do the math. Not only will you brush up on those stellar math skills, you’ll also become aware of what you’re putting in your hot bod. And what’s cooler than that? Trust me, nada.

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About the Author

Carolyn is a Nutritionist/Registered Dietitian and has her masters in Clinical Nutrition from NYU. She went to Tulane in New Orleans for undergrad, spent 3 months traveling around the world on Semester at Sea and then swung through Boulder, CO before landing in her current home of NYC. Carolyn has a blog called One Smart Brownie (www.onesmartbrownie.com) to simplify healthy eating for those who don’t spend their lives studying nutrition. Her favorite hobbies include getting new stamps on her passport and telling yo mama jokes, and she says that if she were to have a crush on a food it would be chocolate biscotti, no questions asked.