Vitaminwater has made a name for itself among the trendy new functional beverage lines, and with the help of popular celebrity spokespeople like Ellen DeGeneres sold 142 million cases last year.
At first glance, Vitaminwater sounds like nothing more than flavored water with added vitamins and minerals … even a seasoned health veteran may be fooled into believing that this is a good idea … vitamins, water, a great combination.
But when you start investigating the list of ingredients in Vitaminwater and similar beverages, the more you'll realize you're doing your body a great disservice by falling for the healthy illusion they've created.
It's very fitting that Coca-Cola owns the Vitaminwater brand, as this beverage is closer to soda than it is to water. And as you may remember, Coca-Cola was actually sued last year in a class-action lawsuit that contended the Vitaminwater line was being illegally promoted as a healthy product.
So let's take a look at what you're really drinking if you drink Vitaminwater …
What's Really in Vitaminwater? Fructose!
Oh yes, here we have it again. Big surprise, the number one source of calories in the US and the primary cause of the obesity epidemic is being used to sell this product.
"Vitaminwater is Coke's attempt to dress up soda in a physician's white coat. Underneath, it's still sugar water, albeit sugar water that costs about ten bucks a gallon," said litigation director Steve Gardner of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
Actually I disagree with the "sugar water" part as pure cane sugar water is an order of magnitude healthier than free-floating fructose. When you drink Vitaminwater, what you really get is 33 grams -- more than six teaspoons -- of sugar, including crystalline fructose.
I recently began warning about this new variety of fructose, which may be even worse for your health than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I recently exposed agave as being worse than HFCS but crystalline fructose is much worse than agave.
While many people mistakenly believe that fructose is an acceptable form of sweetener, it is far from healthy. Refined man-made fructose metabolizes to triglycerides and adipose tissue, not blood glucose. One major downside of this is that fructose does not stimulate your insulin secretion, nor enhance leptin production.
Together, insulin and leptin act as key signals in regulating how much food you eat, and several studies have linked dietary fructose to increased food intake and weight gain.
Additionally, fructose is also known to significantly raise your triglycerides, which puts you at an increased risk of heart disease.
Based on the latest research, crystalline fructose is definitely something you'll want to avoid as much as possible. Whereas regular HFCS contains 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, crystalline fructose is at minimum 99 percent fructose, which could only mean that all the health problems associated with fructose may be even more pronounced with this product.
If anyone tries to tell you "sugar is sugar," they are way behind the times. There are major differences in how your body processes each one.
The bottom line is: fructose leads to increased belly fat, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome -- not to mention the long list of chronic diseases that directly result. As a standard recommendation, I strongly advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day … and this leaves no room for Vitaminwater in your diet.
And if that's not bad enough, crystalline fructose may also contain arsenic, lead, chloride and heavy metals.
Vitaminwater Also Contains Erythritol: What is It?
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, a type of sweetener that provides fewer calories than sugar. But despite the name, sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol. It is actually not that bad of a sweetener, far safer than artificial sweeteners, fructose and most of the other sugar alcohols, except xylitol.
They vary in sweetness from about half as sweet as sugar to equally as sweet. They're frequently combined with other low-calorie or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame-K, neotame, saccharin, or as in the case of Vitaminwater, crystalline fructose.
The reason sugar alcohols provide fewer calories than sugar is because they are not completely absorbed in your body. However, this fact has certain drawbacks, none of which are good.
High intakes of foods containing sugar alcohols can lead to adverse physical symptoms like abdominal gas and diarrhea. Some polyols are clearly worse than others. Sorbitol or mannitol-containing foods, for example, are so potent they must display a warning on their label stating "excess consumption may have a laxative effect."
Erythritol may actually offer an explanation to the many reports of ill after-effects from drinking Vitaminwater, such as:
If you gain nothing else from this article, let it serve as a reminder as to the importance of reading labels. As the saying goes, you can't judge a book by its cover … and you can't judge a food product by its cover either.
If you are opting to buy any processed food, make sure to flip it over and read the ingredients for yourself, regardless of how "healthy" it appears to be.
If You Want to Get More Vitamins …
In today's 24-7 world, people are looking for quick ways to maximize their nutrient intake. This is why Vitaminwater and its cronies are occupying ever-expanding sections of supermarket shelves. But let me tell you once again, when it comes to nutrition, there are no shortcuts.
You may be fooled by Vitaminwater's chic logo and health promises … but your body won't be.
Proper nutrition really begins with identifying your Nutritional Type, and then following the program, focusing on eating unprocessed, organic and locally grown foods.
About the best "shortcut" I could recommend if you're looking to increase your nutrient intake, fast, would be to invest in a high-quality vegetable juicer and start juicing your own veggies.
But no matter how you cut it, if you want to get all of the great health benefits that Vitaminwater promises -- reduced risk of chronic disease, more energy, a healthier immune system and so on -- you simply have to start paying attention to what you're eating.
For extra reassurance, a multivitamin can be beneficial, but not in the synthetic forms used in most energy drinks, flavored beverages and vitamin pills on the market. Your body needs nutrients in a natural whole food form, and this is the only type I recommend taking.
Is Vitaminwater Useful Post-Workout?
If you've been drinking Vitaminwater to recharge after a workout, I recommend saving your money. Less than 1 percent of those who use sports drinks actually benefit from them, as anything less than 45 minutes will not result in a large enough fluid loss to justify using a high-sugar drink like Vitaminwater.
And even if you're exercising for more than an hour, there are far better options to rehydrate yourself, such as fresh coconut water, which is one of the highest sources of electrolytes known to man.
For most average exercisers and athletes out there, Vitaminwater is a complete waste of your money. Your best bet for your primary fluid replacement -- while exercising or otherwise -- remains pure, fresh water. Dr. Mercola.