A big gulp of vitamins?

The MacEwan Journalist

April 2009

You may have seen these colourful, playful, and clever bottles popping up all over the city in recent months. On campuses, at sporting events, at festivals and concerts, on the shelves of local supermarkets, and in the hands of consumers.

VitaminWater, a “nutrient enhanced water beverage”, has been gaining in popularity, but with this attention comes suspicion about the ingredients.  This drink promises to “hydrate and replenish the body with essential vitamins”, but does it deliver on this claim?

With appealing names like XXX, mega-c and focus, and high-profile celebrities appearing in the advertisements, like rapper 50 Cent, basketball star Shaquille O’Neal and country singer Carrie Underwood, it can be seen how this drink is mainly geared towards younger consumers.

According to the 2006 Canadian Community Health Survey on nutrition that surveyed 35,000 Canadians, 61 per cent of boys and 83 per cent of girls do not meet the minimum recommended dairy serving.

Although this beverage contains a healthy amount of vitamins, Joseph Bhatti, a local nutritionist, does not believe that there is much of a benefit if you have a balanced diet.

“Every product has its purpose and I would say the purpose for this is pretty limited,” said Bhatti.

In regards to it being used as a sports energy drink, he suggests drinking products like Gatorade instead, if you want effective hydration.

“I just assume it’s good for me, it says VitaminWater right on it,” said Eric Butt, a local VitaminWater fan.

In the United States, the labels are required to list the amount of the ingredients as dictated by the FDA, while in Canada it is not required for them to be listed.

On an American bottle of VitaminWater, there are 13-grams of sugar in an eight-ounce (240-millilitre) serving, compared to Coke, which has 27-grams of sugar in the same serving size.

This means that the typical 591ml bottle of VitaminWater contains 32.5-grams of sugar.  The major difference between VitaminWater and Coke is that VitaminWater uses cane sugar.

“It’s nice to see cane sugar rather than corn syrup, but still, it’s extra sugar,” said Bhatti.

A representative for VitaminWater said that “[VitaminWater is] kind of like an alternative to soda and pop and you know, other beverages of that sort.”

This is a reasonable recommendation according to Bhatti, as he believes that this drink is more a substitute for other sugary beverages and not a health drink.

The general conclusion is that VitaminWater is a healthier choice compared to pop, but the best choice is a healthy, balanced diet and old-fashioned H2O.

“[I drink it because of] [t]he taste really, I just get bored of drinking regular water,” said Butt.

“I think more people need to get used to just drinking water,” said Bhatti.

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