Vitamin-Enhanced Water: Health or Hype?

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Fancy, fortified, fizzy or fruity, bottled water is everywhere. When you get thirsty, you can turn on the tap or tap into your wallet.

Health or hype?

When looking for a healthy option to quench your thirst, you have dozens of choices with cool names in snazzy packages. The ads claim you can drink your vitamins, replenish electrolytes, pump up potassium, and take in antioxidants all in a 20-ounce bottle. But do these health claims hold water, or is fortified water just hype?

So-called functional beverages—drinks fortified to provide specific health benefits—have become so popular they may soon eclipse the sale of other soft drinks.

They’re part of the $25 billion functional foods business, targeting consumers seeking quick healthy options. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) warns the added ingredients may not be worth the extra calories and cost.

Pay attention to labels

The ADA says most people don’t benefit from low vitamin levels found in such drinks, which give little consideration to the nutrients most people need to supplement, like calcium, folate, and vitamin D. Some energy drinks have more caffeine than coffee—up to 141 milligrams per serving, compared to 133 milligrams in a cup of coffee. And the calories add up: One popular energy drink packs in 130 calories a serving (higher than cola!), according to the ADA.

The bottom line, the ADA says, is to read labels to see which ingredients functional drinks contain. If you’re concerned about getting enough vitamins and minerals, you may be better off taking a multivitamin with plain water to stay hydrated. If you want more flavor, infuse your water with a slice of citrus fruit. Such smart moves will satisfy your thirst and nutrition at the same time.

Need a consult with a registered dietitian?

If you need a referral to a registered dietitian, call 1-800-SCRIPPS 800-727-4777).

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