What’s the Real Price for Enhanced Hydration?

NYC Nutritionist

Get your vitamin water now! Electrolytes, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium all in this bottle of water to guarantee your health. Enhanced hydration right here!

Now, if this were the 1920s, we’d be screaming Snake Oil Salesman and run him out of town. Nobody likes to get duped. But, because our supermarkets stock these vitamin waters, they’ve got to be legitimate, right? And why not drink vitamin-enhanced water and be healthier?

To kick off our month of fools and foolproof nutrition and exercise information, I wanted to start with vitamin waters. Since it’s not enough to have a glass of water anymore, we’re now in the era of “enhanced hydration,” we might as well know what we’re consuming, and at what price.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before paying extra for that vitamin and electrolyte-enhanced bottle of water.

  • NYC NutritionistVitamins can be lost via exposure to UV light, heat, air etc.: So all that time painstakingly adding vitamins to your water bottle can get lost. (Karma points out on its water bottles.) “Water-soluble vitamins, which include vitamin C and all the B vitamins, can degrade when they are subjected to water for a prolonged period. If you also subject them to heat and, for some, light, they will degrade even more rapidly,” says Diane L McKay, , Ph.D., FACN assistant professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
  • We can be overly supplemented: We’re so determined to get our supplements that we can, possibly, experience over-supplementation which, our bodies astutely get rid of,  instead of health. According to a CNN blog post responding to a question about vitamin waters, it states “[t]hese products are not dangerous, but they are not a health food either (beyond the fact that they contain water). Nutrients should be consumed as close to their natural state as possible to ensure that you get all the potential health benefits.”
  • Convenience versus price: Some companies avoid the loss of vitamins through UV light and heat by having the vitamins in their water bottle cap. So when you open the water bottle, the vitamins fall into the bottle. But, wouldn’t it be cheaper to just buy vitamins and drink them with water? At almost $3.00 per 18 ounces (almost 42 times the price of a gallon of gas), we could reconsider buying the bottle and buy supplements (according to what our medical practitioner might recommend).
  • Strenuous exercisers: With the exception of those who do intense exercise, most of us need to rehydrate with just … water. That said, NutritionAction says that  “if you do need extra electrolytes, you’re probably better off with a sports drink because regular waters may not have enough electrolytes to matter.” So, they fall short for their target, anyway!
  • The Art of Selling: I once watched an episode of Mad Men  in which one of the characters said something to the effect of, “Our job is to create needs the people didn’t know they had.” There’s something to be said for that here. Just a thought.
  • NYC NutritionistEating a balanced diet: When we eat a balanced diet, we get almost all the nutrients and electrolytes we need. So, perhaps the answer isn’t in a plastic bottle but, instead, in changing our eating habits to be healthier!
  • Ecological damage: Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually. It’s astounding how much we waste. Forward-thinking cities are re-thinking water bottles. San Francisco banned the sales of plastic water bottles in 2014. Buying a water filter can save thousands of bottles each year. So instead of jumping to buy the bottle, perhaps we should consider a filter, drink great water from our re-usable bottle, and get our vitamins, minerals and electrolytes from our foods and other supplements, as needed.

At the end of the day, the cost versus benefits of buying enhanced rehydration, no matter how sophisticated it sounds, doesn’t make much sense.  So, next time you reach for the bottled water at the store, take pause and consider your other options. Your wallet, and the earth, will appreciate the savings!