Do we need added nutrients in our water?
From the Field
Does Vitaminwater provide health or performance benefits?
The nutrient-enhanced drink Vitaminwater
Vitaminwater is an expensive way to get nutrients that can be obtained from food. Water and real food are much healthier.
Marketed as a nutrient-enhanced beverage, Vitaminwater is designed to provide an ideal combination of nutrients for specified physical recovery and for health and performance benefits corresponding to the claims on each bottle. Vitaminwater, which comes in 12 flavors in the United States (and 15 globally), has labels with health- and performance-promising names corresponding to their particular nutrients and possible benefits: reduces the risk of chronic disease, reduces the risk of eye disease, promotes healthy joints, supports optimal immune function, etc. The flavor name is intended to help the consumer decide which particular beverage he or she should be taking. For example, the key nutrient in the flavor “Focus” (kiwi-strawberry) is Preliminary studies show that lutein protects against macular degeneration and other eye-related illnesses, and eye health is critical to focusing., a carotenoid commonly found in leafy green vegetables.
Myths and Claims
Vitaminwater promises to deliver nutrients in a beverage form to supplement a diet that may be lacking in daily recommended vitamins. Vitaminwater also has made claims to improve health and/or help make gains in performance.
According to the , most of the nutrients needed by individuals are already provided by the common American diet. For individuals with specific nutrient deficits or athletes who are vegetarians, supplements (particularly those in multivitamin form) may be beneficial. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines state, “nutrient supplements are not a substitute for a healthful diet."
The original formulation of Vitaminwater provides over 30 grams of sugar (>120 calories) and smaller amounts of selected nutrients in a 20 oz. bottle. However, new formulations include low-calorie and sugar-substitute versions. Many of the nutrients found in Vitaminwater are water soluble, and any excess should be eliminated through urination.
Currently, a lawsuit is pending for deceptive and unsubstantiated claims made about Vitaminwater.
- The health claims made by Vitaminwater should be taken with caution. People with diabetes should pay added attention to the amount of sugar contained in the drink, as the name of the product suggests that it is only comprised of vitamins and water.
- Most of the added nutrients are commonly part of the American diet.
- Overconsumption of vitamins could lead to vitamin toxicity.
Summary for Military Relevance
It is imperative that beverages and products such as Vitaminwater, which boast benefits of performance enhancement and better general health, be scrutinized for scientific evidence and evaluated carefully, especially in regards to their use by Warfighters. The current evidence suggests that consuming nutrient-enhanced water will not significantly benefit the Warfighter. If a Warfighter chooses to use this type of product, he or she should seek appropriate guidance from a dietitian or other healthcare provider.
* Bottom Line Up Front