What’s with all these flavored vitamin waters? And why do they taste so good? I never liked the early version of fruit-enhanced waters that tasted sour. But the newer ones are sweet, yet still low in calories or calorie-free. They’re also very thirst-quenching, almost as effective as an icy Coke. To make them even more attractive to consumers, many contain fancy nutrient additives like vitamins and minerals or herbs that "soothe" or "energize." I don't care much for those extras because I can get them from food or exercise class. It's the taste I love: I had such an addiction to 10-calorie Glaceau Vitamin waters (something about them reminded me of Jello), I'd buy cases at BJs and dilute them with juice or seltzer to make them last. More recently, I'm a SoBe Lifewater fan with flavors like Yumberry Pomegranate, Cherimoya Punch, and Fuji Apple. It's great that I'm drinking more water but are these really healthy? Like diet sodas, they must be filled with artificial colors and flavors. I’m also convinced they contain an addictive substance to make me crave them so much that I'd willingly create waste by buying all these individual bottles when I could easily drink plain water out of my trusty Nalgene refillable bottle.
After studying the ingredients, I realized they're not too terrible. Some of the ingredient names were obviously spruced up like "reverse osmosis water," in other words, filtered water! All contained low-calorie sweeteners, erythritol being the most common. Erythritol is a relatively natural sugar substitute (sugar alcohol) extracted from plants. The waters also contained some kind of gum (typically derived from the sap of trees)—gum acacia, gum arabic, or ester gum—used as natural stabilizers to keep the liquid texture smooth, and as thickeners, likely contributing to the Jello-ness I mentioned earlier. These gums are FDA-approved additives commonly found in candy, soda, and fruit drinks. I was happily surprised that the waters' coloring came from natural ingredients like beta carotene and vegetable juice extracts. Depending on the type of water, there might also be vitamins and minerals thrown in. So, overall, these waters are probably a little healthier than diet soda and a nice alternative to plain water, especially during the winter months when we need to stay hydrated but are drinking less because we don't feel as thirsty.