It sounds healthy. It even looks like it should be good for you. But is vitamin water all that we want and expect it to be? The promise of pure, simple hydration with just enough vitamin goodness to keep our bodies ticking over is appealing. But is it simply too good to be true?
What is vitamin water?
Vitamin water is pre-bottled water, flavoured and enhanced with added vitamins and minerals. It’s usually marketed as a convenient, healthy alternative to bottled fizzy drinks. So, in many respects it offers a cold beverage alternative that sits at a mid-way point somewhere between pure but flavourless water and sweet, sugary pop.
What are the benefits of vitamin water?
It certainly sounds like it should be good for you. Vitamins – tick. We all need vitamins for essential bodily functions. Water – tick. Water is an essential too. In fact with water constituting 60% of our body weight, keeping our fluid levels topped up is vital for our survival. So, combining the two – vitamins plus water – to create a simple healthy, fruity tonic in theory sounds like health drink genius.
But is it?
Is vitamin water really good for you?
Before you add vitamin water in bulk to your next grocery order, it’s important to consider exactly what’s in the bottle to fully understand how good – or bad – it is for you.
Ingredients and nutritional values vary considerably between manufacturers and even across sub-brands. It’s important to always check the list of ingredients, paying special attention to relative mineral and vitamin content levels. Sometimes, there’s more to a bottle of water than meets the eye.
What ingredients to look out for
When analysing the ingredients label, here are few things to look out for:
- Hidden sweeteners
Are there added sugars? If so, how much? How about added artificial sweeteners and flavourings? What sort? How much?
As soon as these additives are thrown into the mix, the purity diminishes. Firstly, consider whether they are ‘safe’ additives. Then, it’s up to you to decide whether the convenience of having vitamins and minerals added to a drink outweigh the disadvantages of any unhealthy and unwanted sweeteners.
- The vitamin content
Consider also what specific vitamins are present in the drink and how likely it is that you’ll need to supplement your diet with the nutrients found in the flavoured water. Vitamin water typically contains C and B vitamins. Both are usually readily available in a regular diet. This calls into question the nutritional value and purpose of vitamin water. Also to get the health benefit of any vitamin, each serving must provide at least 15% of your daily nutritional reference value (NRV).
Is vitamin water better than tap water?
Whilst tap water doesn’t come enriched with the same vitamins as vitamin water, it’s pure, unsweetened and readily available. It also has no added sweeteners and no artificial flavourings. Other than natural spring water, there’s little else to challenge tap water when it comes to unadulterated, simple hydration.
However, if you’re looking for a drink with a little more oomph than plain water, and the appeal of vitamin water is the fruity flavour, why not consider a fruit infusion instead? For on-the-go convenience, infusion bags could be a great option. Or simply add fresh fruit to your glass from the tap – strawberries or raspberries or a slice of lemon perhaps? You’ll enjoy the fruity flavour and all the benefits, without the unpleasant additives.
As a comparison, just one 60ml glass of lemon water contains 31% of your daily vitamin C. So, sipping on citrus-infused tapped water is a great habit to add to your daily routine. It could help to support your immunity, as well as a host of other health benefits, supporting normal skin, and encouraging iron absorption.
Summary: When it comes to vitamin water, always read the label
Vitamin water sounds great, but always check the label to understand the full list of ingredients and whether there’s any hidden extras you’d rather avoid.
Last updated: 11 November 2020