Super Waters or Super Myths
Nov 13, 2018 12:00AM
● By Brian Saucedo
By Kelsey Casselbury
Once upon a time, water was just water. It hydrated and refreshed, and there wasn’t much to think about when filling up a glass. Oh, such a simple time it was. Now, when you walk into a gas station for a beverage or saunter down the beverage aisle of a grocery store, the options for water—or something that looks a lot like it—have multiplied overwhelmingly.
Some of these drinks look like water. but they are fortified with something, whether it’s vitamins or minerals/electrolytes. Others look more like candy-colored juice and come in a variety of hues. There’s no need to pick on any one brand here, as a large number of popular manufacturers include a vitamin- or mineral-infused beverage in their line-up. The question is, does it do your health any good to drink them?
The Research Says...
You can have too much of a good thing. In a study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, researchers dove deep into the ingredients and nutrients of 46 beverages, finding that a significant number of them overdid it on the vitamin and mineral content. For example, a whopping 18 drinks had three times the amount of vitamin B6 that a person needs in a day, reported The New York Times. B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning you’re simply urinating out the excess, but certain nutrients, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, are fat-soluble, so they could accumulate to toxic levels in your body.
Health Experts Say...
Watch out for the sugar content. Not all enhanced waters have added sugar—for example, Smartwater from Glaceau is plain distilled water with electrolytes. But, some of the nutrition labels are a little scary for something that purports to be “water,” containing as much sugar as in a can of regular soda. Check the labels before you take a swig.
The Court Says...
Health claims are suspect. Coca-Cola settled a lawsuit in 2015 and changed the Vitaminwater label to remove multiple health statements, including that the drink could “support optimal metabolic function with antioxidants that may reduce the risk of chronic diseases” or promote “optimal functioning of the immune system.”
Bottom Line: Treat nutrient-enhanced waters, particularly those with added sugars, like you would soda or juice—drink them sparingly, fitting them into an otherwise healthy diet.
Sparkling, Coconut, Alkaline, Oh My!
What about those other waters, which don’t have anything added to them, but they aren’t exactly plain ol’ H2O?
Sparkling Water: Go Ahead
Zero sugar, zero sodium, zero calories—sparkling water is A-OK for regular consumption. Research shows that it hydrates just as well as traditional water, but there’s one catch: Because it’s made by adding bubbles to regular water, you might drink less overall because it has filled up your stomach.
Coconut: Moderate It
Love it or hate it, coconut water has a plethora of naturally occurring electrolytes, such as magnesium and potassium. In hardcore athletic situations—we’re talking marathon runners and others who go beyond a 30-minute sweat session—it can be beneficial to replace the electrolytes lost via sweat. For everyone else, it’s perfectly fine in moderation, but it shouldn’t be a total replacement for H2O.
Alkaline: Wait and See
Not much is known about alkaline water, which has a higher pH than standard tap water. Most mineral waters (but not all) are alkaline, but it can also be created using an ionizer. There’s research to support that alkaline water could benefit bone density, but it’s scant—so while there’s probably no harm, you’re not going to reap much more than you would from regular water.