The Case Against Vitamin Water

If you look at the ingredients of Vitamin Water 10 (owned by Coca Cola), you might be pleased to see that it contains the natural sweetener stevia. However, you will also notice that it is loaded with crystalline fructose, sucrose, and a mysterious product called Erythritol.

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, a sweetener that does not provide as many calories as sugar. But the reason that sugar alcohols provide fewer calories than sugar is because they are not completely absorbed into your body. For this reason, high intakes of foods containing sugar alcohols can lead to abdominal gas and diarrhea.

Also, bear in mind that while sugar alcohols are lower in calories, gram for gram, than sugar, they are not calorie-free, and if eaten in large enough quantities, the calories can be comparable to sugar-containing foods.

Some sugar alcohols are reasonable to consume in moderate quantities -- for example, xylitol doesn't spike blood sugar levels in the way that high-fructose corn syrup might, and it is anti-bacterial and actually helps prevent dental cavities.

For more information, refer to this page on Medicine Net

Danger #1: Crystalline Fructose
The average person picking up a bottle of Vitamin Water would easily think this is simply flavored water with added vitamins and minerals, which sounds like a good thing in theory.

But what you really get is 33 grams -- more than six teaspoons -- of sugar, including crystalline fructose.

This new variety of fructose may be even worse for your health than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

While many people mistakenly believe that fructose is an acceptable form of sweetener, it is far from healthy. Refined man-made fructose metabolizes to triglycerides and adipose tissue, not blood glucose. One major downside of this is that fructose does not stimulate your insulin secretion, nor enhance leptin production.

Together, insulin and leptin act as key signals in regulating how much food you eat, and several studies have linked dietary fructose to increased food intake and weight gain.

Additionally, fructose is also known to significantly raise your triglycerides, which puts you at an increased risk of heart disease.

Based on the latest research, crystalline fructose is definitely something you'll want to avoid as much as possible. Whereas regular HFCS contains 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, crystalline fructose is at minimum 99 percent fructose, which could only mean that all the health problems associated with fructose may be even more pronounced with this product.

And if that's not bad enough, crystalline fructose may also contain arsenic, lead, chloride and heavy metals.

The deceptive maneuvering of Vitamin Water is a good reminder of the importance of reading labels. Anytime you opt to buy any kind of processed food or beverage, make sure to flip it over and read the ingredients for yourself, regardless of how healthy it appears at first glance.

Concern #1: Erythritol
Sugar alcohols (also known as polyols) like erythritol are regulated as either GRAS or food additives. Despite the name, sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol.

They vary in sweetness from about half as sweet as sugar to equally as sweet. They're frequently combined with other low-calorie or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame-K, neotame, saccharin, or as in the case of VitaminWater, crystalline fructose.

The reason sugar alcohols provide fewer calories than sugar is because they are not completely absorbed in your body. However, this fact has certain drawbacks, none of which are good.

High intakes of foods containing sugar alcohols can lead to adverse physical symptoms like abdominal gas and diarrhea. Some polyols are clearly worse than others. Sorbitol or mannitol-containing foods, for example, are so potent they must display a warning on their label stating "excess consumption may have a laxative effect."

But erythritol may offer an explanation to the many reports of ill after-effects from drinking VitaminWater, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Stomachache

What are Your Best Sources for Vitamins and Fluids?
One of your best bets for your primary fluid replacement is just pure water, without the fancy trappings. Your body does not need anything added to the water to make it any "healthier" than it already is.

Remember, the food industry spends about $40 billion a year on advertising, with the intention of brainwashing you to believe that junk food is in some way good for you and your kids. And the beverage industry is part of that pack.

And as far as vitamins are concerned, please remember that no vitamin supplement can ever compensate for a poor diet.

So if you want to get all of the great health benefits that VitaminWater promises -- reduced risk of chronic disease, more energy, a healthier immune system and so on - you simply have to start paying attention to what you're eating.

Now, as a complement to your diet, a multivitamin is beneficial, but not in the synthetic forms used in most energy drinks, flavored beverages and vitamin pills on the market. Your body has less work to do in obtaining maximum absorption with a vitamin supplement in an isotonic form.

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