How vital is your Vitaminwater?

After the product’s incredibly successful Canadian debut, many still wonder about the wonder of Vitaminwater

According to spokesperson Daniella Macri, Vitaminwater provides 100 per cent of the daily reccomended dose of Vitamin C.
According to spokesperson Daniella Macri, Vitaminwater provides 100 per cent of the daily reccomended dose of Vitamin C.

“If you woke up tired, you need more sleep. If you woke up drooling at your desk, you need a new job. If you woke up naked with a headache, on a Ferris wheel at the Barrie fair, wearing a toga, you probably need answers, not to mention this product that’s packed with potassium and B vitamins.”

So reads the label of Restore, one beverage in Glacéau’s line of punchy, colourful Vitaminwater products.

Like other drinks in the Vitaminwater collection that each delivers a specific group of vitamins and minerals, the fruit punch-flavoured Restore is especially rich in potassium and B vitamins—maybe to help replenish the body’s store of nutrients after a dizzying, dehydrating night.

Daniella Macri, Buzz Marketing Manager for Vitaminwater, said the product has been around for awhile.

“Glacéau Vitaminwater—the original rooting itself in Manhattan—launched in Canada in June 2008, almost a decade after it first hit shelves in the U.S.,” she told the Journal via e-mail.

Macri said she credits the product’s playful vibe and quirky labels with attracting consumers.

“Vitaminwater drinkers tend to be active, on-the-go people who, like us, try not to take ourselves too seriously,” she said.

It’s clear the makers of Vitaminwater are after an image that’s fun at its core—even the recycling symbol on my Restore bottle comes with a tongue-in-cheek warning: “30 may be the new 20, but green is definitely the new black.

Please recycle.”

The drink isn’t without its controversy, though. Five of its flavours have been banned by the NCAA due to its role in creating false positives during testing in athletes.

With such an eco-chic and health-savvy exterior, it’s easy to wonder if Vitaminwater’s nutritional substance is all it’s cracked up to be. Some consumers might question how Glacéau manages to infuse a fun, flavourful drink with any significant dose of vitamins, but Macri said the product’s healthful focus goes beneath the surface of its image.

“Each of the nine varieties has at least 100 per cent daily value vitamin C, and 25 to 50 per cent of B vitamins. In addition, each variety has its own unique vitamin pack,” she said, adding that this is what makes the drink unique. “Vitaminwater is the original enhanced active lifestyle beverage.”

Each Vitaminwater bottle’s label states the product’s recommended purpose: “to hydate and replenish the body with essential vitamins and minerals.”

Jeffrey Lalonde, a dietitian and instructor of HLTH 230, Basic Human Nutrition, said an ample supply of vitamins and minerals is important for a healthy lifestyle, but many people aren’t in danger of deficiency.

“Generally, a young adult who’s eating balanced meals should meet their nutritional requirements. It shouldn’t be a big concern,” he said.

However, there are some populations who are more likely to need supplements in their diet. Lalonde said pregnant women and senior citizens are particularly vulnerable.

“Certainly people who are pregnant should be thinking of supplementing their vitamin and mineral intake, and those over 50 should be looking at vitamin D,” he said. “Canada’s food guide does add special recommendations for these people.”

Although most young people eating balanced diets may already achieve the recommended daily intake of most vitamins and minerals, Lalonde said drinking Vitaminwater isn’t likely to introduce any dangerous excess to students’ diets.

“I don’t see a risk,” he said. “On the bottle, they’re very careful about recommending no more than four drinks per day.”

Despite claiming to pack a vitamin power punch, some vitamins in Vitaminwater may only be creating expensive urine.

Vitamins absorbed from supplements are generally either water-soluble or fat soluble. Vitamins B and C are both water-soluble, which means they can easily enter the bloodstream with a dose of water.

Vitamins such as A, D, E and K, however, are fat-soluble—which means they can only enter the bloodstream and become active if they are dissolved in a certain dose of dietary fat, like in a meal.

Lalonde said he sees the diverse array of vitamins and minerals in each of Glacéau’s bottles as an advantage.

“It’s got a greater variety of vitamins and minerals than many individual foods,” he said.

For example, each bottle of Restore contains potassium, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12—among others. Focus, a strawberry-kiwi flavoured drink, contains lutein, vitamin A and vitamin C.

Lalonde said we shouldn’t downplay the importance of a healthy diet, though.

“As long as we get a variety of rich food sources, we’ll certainly get those values,” he said.

When asked how drinking Vitaminwater compares to taking a daily multivitamin, Lalonde said multivitamins are generally more complete in terms of what they provide.

“Multivitamins tend to have an even more diverse group of vitamins and minerals. These values are consistently high in most of the major brands,” he said.

Non-medicinal ingredients in each bottle of Vitaminwater include reverse osmosis water, cane sugar, citric acid, fruit and vegetable juices for colour and natural flavour. Beside this list on each bottle, the familiar nutritional information panel, mandated on Canadian foods and drinks is conspicuously lacking.

Lalonde said the missing label isn’t as suspicious as it might at first appear.

“They actually do list calories,” he said. “It’s on the label—just not in the form we’re used to. The reason is, it’s actually seen as a natural health product, like a vitamin itself, and those have different regulations.”

With each 591-mL bottle of Vitaminwater containing about 100 calories, Lalonde said people should consider their individual needs before choosing a drink.

“One of the main decisions is to look at your weight and your goals,” he said. “If you’re looking to drink water for the sake of drinking water, then that’s what you should choose. If you’ve decided on vitamins and minerals, you might want to look at some kind of supplement. Although, multivitamins have vitamins and minerals without the added calories.” Each bottle of Vitaminwater has about 100 to 125 calories and 13 grams of sugar, the calorie count along with the sugar level in the drink is not much lower than a can of Coca Cola, which has 155 calories and 39 grams of sugar.

Lalonde said taste is one of the main attractive features of flavoured waters.

“There will always be people who prefer the taste of juice or pop,” he said. “This is another reason to choose enhanced water beverages.”

Lalonde said the best way to to stay healthy is to consider your particular nutrition needs and looking into the best way to meet them.

“If people are concerned with their choices as healthy individuals, it’s important to look at Canada’s Food Guide,” he said. “Check those values to see how well you’re doing. See if you need to make some changes.”

Macri is quick to dispel the notion that Vitaminwater is just your average sugary drink choice.

“There are no artificial sweeteners, colours or preservatives and it’s sodium-free,” she said, adding that students with unbalanced diets may benefit from the product.

Though Macri said Vitaminwater contains no artificial sweeteners, it’s important to note that it does contain crystaline fructose—a processed sweetener.

Macri said that consuming Vitaminwater is one of the ways students can try to avoid coming down the the flu this winter.

“With flu season coming on, Vitaminwater Defense raspberry-apple has extra vitamin C and zinc, which helps boost your immunity,” she said.

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