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Juiced-up waters

Bottled waters are being marketed with vitamin supplements and energy sources, all in one bottle. But is this stuff really all it’s cracked up to be?
/ Source: msnbc.com

We are constantly told to drink eight glasses of water a day, and to supplement our diet with plenty of vitamins and nutrients. Well, now bottled waters are being marketed with vitamin supplements and energy sources, all in one bottle. But is this stuff really all it’s cracked up to be? On NBC’s “Today” show, Los Angeles Times syndicated columnist and “Today” show contributor, Phil Lempert shares the low down on some of these “juiced-up”waters.

IF YOU ARE still drinking flat or bubbly waters in fancy bottles with foreign sounding names, you might want to check out what’s new on your supermarket shelves. Some companies want you to think that designer waters are on the way out and “healthier” waters are on the way in. Here’s a look at some of the newest offerings to join the latest supermarket trend. But before you gulp, be sure you read the labels.

Gatorade is launching PropelThe Fitness Water, www.propelwater.com — a lightly flavored, non-carbonated water in three flavors with only 10 calories per 8 oz. serving. It’s made from purified water and contains four B vitamins (Niacin, B-6, B-12, and Pantothenic acid) and two antioxidants (Vitamins C and E). A 16oz. bottle retails for 99 cents. Propel, according to the company, is designed for “hot and sweaty occasions.”

Healthy California, www.healthycal.com, is vitamin, mineral and herb enriched spring water with natural fruit flavors. The combinations are designed around specific nutritional and psychological profiles and the label clearly explains the potential benefit and the herbs inside. For example, ”Multi” contains echinacea, ginkgo, green tea, gotu kila and goldenseal, and according to the label “prepares you for the challenges of the day”. The three other varieties are Femme, Relax, and Revive. Each bottle retails for

around $1.79 and has 23 calories per 8-oz. serving.

Peace Mountain Mineral Water, www.peacemountain.com, has two entries in the market: Non-carbonated mineral water and Skinny Water. Both are high in magnesium (which some research has shown can help aid migraines, heart disease and PMS) and is micron filtered and treated with ultraviolet light and ozonation. Skinny Water is also infused with the natural appetite suppressant Super CitriMax, along with ChromeMate, L-Carnitine, and D-Ribose. Both come in 20 oz. bottles and have no calories. Skinny Water retails for $1.29 and the other at 99 cents.

Glaceau Smartwater claims to use the “purest water ever”, which is vapor distilled from the natural aquifers in Litchfield County, Connecticut, and claims to have the lowest measurement of total dissolved solids (metals and minerals) of any other water. The intent is to deliver increased energy levels, improved hydration and maximum detoxification. It’s available in four sizes with the half liter retailing for 99 cents and zero calories.

Glaceau Vitaminwater claims to be the most efficient delivery system for vitamins. The implication and claim is that vitamins that are pre-dissolved in water work better in our systems. Joe Spence, Ph.D. and Director of the USDA’s Beltsville Human Nutrition Center disagrees. He says that water soluble vitamins (all vitamins are water soluble except for Vitamins A, D, E &K) which are fat soluble, are as freely absorbed in tablet form. There are six varieties of Glaceau Vitaminwater with different combinations of nutrients with names like Rescue, Super-C and Complex-B. In 20-oz. bottles these sell for $1.49 and have 40 calories per 8-oz. serving.

Glaceau Soywater is just that, soy and water, 100 percent RDA of vitamins A, C and E, and it comes in three flavors (strawberry banana, orange cream and pina colada).

It is made with soy that is free from genetically modified organisms. A 20-oz. bottle sells for $1.99 and has 50 calories per 8-oz. serving.

Glaceau Fruitwater contains no juice and is flavored with aromatic essential oil extracts of fruits and herbs. Think of a twist of lime added to water. The good news is that there are no calories and no sodium. A 20-oz. bottle retails for $1.49.

Calcium Springs offers the highest amount of calcium, 135mg, of the natural spring waters. Some medical research has shown that calcium in liquid suspension is better absorbed by the human body if its in balance with magnesium. Calcium Springs also is perfect for those who have lactose intolerance or allergies to milk — www.calciumsprings.com

And if want your water a little stronger? Well, DNA, www.joltcola.com, is an alcoholic carbonated spring water with natural fruit flavor and 5 percent alcohol, a little more than a beer. It’s a hit in the UK, Australia and Japan, and is targeted to men 21 to 55 years old. It comes in six packs, has 110 calories per 8-oz serving and is sold just in liquor stores. It retails for about $6.99.

Since water is a great carrier for other nutrients and has a relatively high profit margin; expect even more varieties and combinations to appear on store shelves.

Most supermarkets today stock over 50 varieties of bottled waters, which have standards that are regulated by the FDA to insure our safety and that claims are truthful. Now, new “nutraceutical waters” that are designed to deliver specific health benefits are being introduced, and unlike the bottled water you are now drinking, they are considered “beverages” — and that means different they have regulations.

That’s an important distinction, according to Shellee Anderson, interdisciplinary scientist at the FDA, as these products do not have to meet bottled water restrictions or labeling requirements. They fall under the general FDA guidelines for foods rather than water(http://www.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/cfrassemble.cgi, Title 21 for Food Labeling Regulations; part 101 for beverages, part 165 for bottled waters).

So you had better read those labels with care and look beyond the claims. Anderson is also adds that the name of a food or beverage, what is called it’s standard of identity, “has to mean something that consumers understand and can not be false or misleading”. Use of a tricky trademark that has a perceived benefit is considered misleading if the product does not perform as implied.

So what used to be a relatively easy section of the supermarket to shop, has just gotten a lot more complicated and confusing; and will probably be keeping the FDA busy verifying claims for months to come.

Read the labels carefully to be sure you know what ingredients you are consuming, and take precautions to be sure that there are no potential side effects or reactions with medications you may be taking. If you have any questions check with your doctor or pharmacist.

All of these beverages list the daily value levels in their nutritional facts, read the levels carefully and make sure you don’t wind up paying for excess water soluble vitamins and minerals that are just being excreted in your bodily fluids. High dosages of fat-soluble vitamins may be toxic so check before you gulp. Soothing label designs, motivating messaging and claims that sound too could to be true, often are.


Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru®, analyzes the food marketing industry to keep consumers up-to-date about cutting-edge marketing trends. He is a regular “Today” show contributor, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and host of Shopping Smart of the WOR Radio Network. For more food and health information, you can check out Phil’s Web site at: www.supermarketguru.com.