I’ve seen lots of people walking around with Vitamin Water lately – in its snazzy modern bottle and fun, sassy flavors. I gave in tonight and bought one because, hey, I wanted a healthy, uplifting drink that would refresh me.
I settled on “Cran-Grapefruit Balance” which the bottle said was recommended for “gymnasts, ballerinas, tight-rope walkers, people who do yoga… and/or individuals simply requiring equilibrium in their lives.” It also says “vitamins + water = all you need.” It’s even made by a place called “The Center for Responsible Hydration.”
How refreshing and clever, I thought, I would absolutely love a mixture of vitamins and water to make me feel balanced and possibly put me into a category with slim, toned ballerinas and gymnasts!
Then, about halfway through the bottle, I read the small print. And was totally grossed out.
First off, the second ingredient is crystalline fructose. That’s a fancy word for high-fructose corn syrup, pretty much the worst legal thing you can put in your body. There’s a ton of it in the drink: about 32 grams and 125 calories (your supposed to eat 0 grams of the stuff a day). It’s basically no different as drinking a can of coke, except that it doesn’t taste as good.
Secondly, it’s made with distilled water. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding whether or not distilled water is good or bad for you, but I’m not sure I want to put anything in my body that is surrounded by controversy. Not to mention that the little science I do know logically tells me the stuff is bad: because distilled water is stripped of its minerals (“soft”) it will attract vitamins and minerals from your body and you will expel them. That would mean vitamin water actually takes nutrients from you.
Thirdly, there aren’t that many vitamins in it. Way less than in a glass of orange juice.
But the thing that mad me maddest about the Vitamin Water was not that it’s bad for you (most bottled drinks are) but that it s advertising is so dishonest and devious. The drink isn’t “vitamins + water,” it’s a few vitamins + processed sugar + distilled water. And if ballerinas ran around drinking this stuff as if it were water, they’d have trouble fitting into their tutus.
It seems like people are buying this stuff because of the idea: a wonderful tasting drink that makes me think I’m hydrating and fueling my body! And the label tells me I’m smart and uses a really cute sans-serif font! At least Coke sells its soda on the idea that it’s fun to drink, not on false premises.
I’ll tell you a time-tested way to responsibly hydrate: drink some filtered tap water. It’s good for you and it’s a lot cheaper.