Drinking water is good for you. It maintains hydration and is vital for keeping your organs working smoothly as well as keeping your energy level up. Plus, there isn’t a single calorie to be found in one drop of it, so it helps stave off the pounds and fights against water retention, too. Considering the fact it’s the perfect drink as is, then adding vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and alkalizing agents to it must make it even better. Right? Well, let’s see.
Sales of enhanced bottled water in the United States is a $15 billion dollar booming business and growing, with the soft drink giants, Pepsi and Coca-Cola, taking the lead. But the road to healthy water hasn’t always been smooth, neither has it been based upon science. It’s been based upon profit without much regard for either the former or the latter.
Consumers were intelligent enough to know that there truly isn’t much difference in bottled waters, so the bottling companies began adding descriptors to their labels such as “purified” and “mineral” (all water contains minerals), to increase sales. Unfortunately, it only misled the public. So, back in 1997 after various bottlers charged competitors with exaggerating purity and mislabeling their products, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new labeling rules defining tighter criteria for the terms “artesian well,” “mineral,” “purified,” and “spring water.” This apparently clarified the labeling problem but it did little to boost sales. The corporate answer to the profit question was the creation of “enhanced water” infused with ionizing agents, alkalizing agents, minerals, electrolytes, flavors, and/or vitamins.
• Mineral Water
Minerals are inorganic substances. And so are rocks. There is considerable debate in the scientific community as to the usefulness of these inorganic minerals in the human diet. Your best bet is making sure any mineral used in any enhanced water are sourced organically and not from inorganic substances because your body will have difficulty absorbing them. Some minerals like lead, antimony, arsenic, barium, and aluminum, aren’t good for us to begin with. The truth is, you’d have to drink about 7 gallons of enhanced mineral water per day to reach the Minimum Daily Allowance of some minerals, while eating a diet rich in minerals serves the purpose better. Drink filtered water.
• Alkaline/Ionized Water
Water that has a higher pH than regular and filtered water is considered Alkaline. Mineral waters are naturally alkaline. Acidic environments, the opposite of alkaline environments have been accused of such things as causing cancer, inflammation, and heart disease. And since our Western diet is highly acidic, alkaline water, created by using an ionizer, is the new cure-all for what-ails-us. At the very least, it is touted with balancing the imbalance the Western diet creates by generating an optimum pH. The jury is still out on how much alkalizing water it would take to affect one’s pH.
• Electrolyte Enhanced Water
What are electrolytes? They are a set of very specific minerals — sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphate — that help regulate the fluid balance in your body. We lose electrolytes (especially sodium) when we sweat, and it’s important to replace them if you work out or lead an extraordinarily active lifestyle. Again, these can be found in our food sources and in filtered tap water. Paying extra for enhanced electrolyte water is a choice, not a necessity.
• Flavor Enhanced Water
People may find it easier to drink water than has been enhanced with flavors. As long as those flavors do not also consist of added sugars, then drink up!
• Vitamin Enhanced Water
Again, your best bet is getting vitamins through foods or supplements. There aren’t enough vitamins in vitamin enhanced water to meet the RDA requirements for any of them. There is nothing wrong with drinking them either, if you can justify the increased cost.
Enhanced waters are definitely enhanced by their specific additives, but their health benefits remain scientifically dubious, especially when attempting to justify the increased cost to your budget. They’re not all they’re cracked up to be. Your best source of water is as close as your sink, as long as you invest in a decent water filter. And, it’s free.
How Bottled Water Became Americas Most Popular Beverage. Serious Eats.