The Real Food Guide

Is Vitamin Water good for you?


Is Vitamin Water good for you?They’ve caught your eye at grocery stores, convenience stores, airports, and more…neatly lined up in a rainbow of brightly colored bottles, with fun and catchy descriptions on the labels. Water that tastes good and has added nutritional benefits? Perfect. Maybe you haven’t eaten any fruit or veg today, so this will help to compensate. So, is Vitamin Water good for you?

Ahem. I’m here to tell you that Vitamin Water is a bit of a hoax. It’s enhanced water, for certain, but clever marketing has us to believe it’s doing more for us than it really is. Without further ado, here are the reasons why I don’t buy into Vitamin Water.

1. Vitamin Water is sugar water

The second ingredient on the label, after water, is sugar. (Remember, sugar can be read as fructose, glucose, evaporated cane juice, erythritol, malitol, sorbitol… the list goes on.) Each 591ml bottle of Vitamin Water contains 31-32g of sugar, depending on the flavor. Compare that to the 39g of sugar found in a can of Coke – it’s not much better!

We all know the detrimental effects that sugar has on our bodies – it leads to rapid blood sugar swings, hypoglycemia, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, anxiety, mood swings, yeast overgrowth, headaches, decreased immunity, weight gain, and it acidifies your body, making it an ideal place for disease to thrive. So how can a product with this much sugar possibly be considered a healthful choice?

Vitamin Water is meant to “hydrate and replenish the body”, according to its label. The truth is, sugar will never hydrate you. The body needs to use water to break down individual sugar molecules – water is the only thing that will break them down. This is how sugar consumption can actually lead to severely dehydrated cells.

2. Vitamin Water is loaded with synthetic vitamins

Synthetic vitamins are produced in test tubes. This is a problem, because they lack the co-factors needed for proper absorption in our bodies. Allow me to explain.

When we eat food, any food, we’re not just getting a high amount of one nutrient only, we’re getting many different nutrients at once. All vitamins and minerals work synergistically with specific other vitamins and minerals ( aka co-factors), in specific ratios. As an example, the B vitamins work best when taken together. Iron is better absorbed with vitamin C. (On the flip side, iron and zinc work antagonistically – they compete with each other for absorption.)

The vitamins in your food already come with the other nutrientsco-factors needed for absorption… kind of like nature’s “package deal”. The same goes for high quality, naturally sourced vitamin supplements. Synthetic vitamins, however, have been isolated. Their molecular structure is different than what is found in nature, and this makes it much harder for our cells to recognize and use them. Simply put, our bodies know the difference between real and fake.

Synthetic vitamins are either stored until the body receives the necessary co-factors (this can sometimes lead to toxicity!) or excreted immediately. Bottom line: Vitamin Water is a waste of money – and it doesn’t even come close to Real Food.

3. Vitamin Water is owned by Coca-Cola

Okay, so this one may not be as big a deal for some people, and that’s okay. But personally, Coke is not a company I like to support (a subject for a whole other article!). A simple Google search will give you information about the company’s questionable business and labour practises, poor environmental record, and of course, the ill-effects of their products. Why support a huge conglomerate if we have a choice to do otherwise?

Healthy Alternatives to Vitamin Water

First of all, aim to get as much of your daily nutrition from food, relying less on drinks and pills. When supplementing, stick with high quality products made from natural sources that the body can easily assimilate. Your holistic nutritionist can point you in the right direction!

Always choose water over any sugared beverage. Classic, straight-up water. If you like the sweetness and flavour that drinks like Vitamin Water provide, rest assured there is so much you can add to your water to make it taste more interesting. The options are truly endless, but here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • freshly squeezed lemon and/or lemon slices
  • lime
  • fresh mint leaves
  • cucumber slices
  • berries
  • other herbs and fruits

Mix and match to make your very own “homemade Vitamin Water”. I’m sure you’ll create something you find delicious and refreshing! Another tip: adding a pinch of unrefined salt to your water helps replace electrolytes, which is important post-workout or whenever you’ve been sweating or losing fluid.

If you know someone who drinks Vitamin Water, consider passing this information on to them. Now it’s time to hear from you: what do you like to put in your water? What other beverages do you drink that are flavorful and nutritious? Leave a comment below!

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Photo credit: Rainbow fountain by David Chou

Alex is a Holistic Nutritionist with a passion for helping people realize their full potential. After experiencing ill-effects from vegetarianism, Alex reclaimed her love of meat and adopted an omnivorous, yet truly holistic way of eating and living. She believes true healing and balance can be found not just through the foods we eat, but the thoughts we think. Alex has a special interest in the areas of mental health, digestion & gut healing, and weight loss. She is based in Toronto, Canada, but also works with clients internationally via Skype.

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January 15 |

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