Vitamin Waters Claim Health Benefits

The modern workers of the world don't just visit the water cooler for a miniature paper cup full of H2O. For some hydration enthusiasts, basic bottled water isn't enough — they need vitamin waters.

Vitamins are the newest ripple in the tidal wave of bottled water. Gatorade is diving in with something called "Propel Fitness Water," while Pepsi, Reebok, Arizona, Seagrams, Snapple, and Glaceau — which says it got there first — try to stake their own claim in the market.

Some bottled-water enthusiasts, like Todd Gage, say they welcome the opportunity to get more vitamins into their daily diet by simply picking up a bottle of water. "I think you get hydrated in addition to getting some vitamins," he said.

But can you really benefit from water that's been mixed with vitamins? Good Morning America's consumer correspondent Greg Hunter asked Good Housekeeping magazine to help check out some popular brands of "vitamin water."

Good Housekeeping's director of nutrition, Delia Hammock, examined more than 30 varieties of vitamin water. "Generally, the vitamin amounts in these waters isn't that much, you may get 10 percent, 20 percent of your daily value," Hammock said.

Not a Substitute

Darrius Bikoff of Glaceau Vitamin Water, which lists vitamin A and B among other ingredients on its bottles, told Hunter that the water is not meant to be a replacement for any other supplements you might be taking. Bikoff said it's not meant to be a substitute for a healthy diet, but he said it is more nutritious than traditional H2O.

"There's no nutrients in tap water. There's no nutrients in spring water. There are nutrients in Glaceau Vitamin Water," Bikoff said.

Although vitamins have been added to these fancy bottles of water, it doesn't necessarily mean that your body will ever absorb them, according to Hammock. "Not vitamins A and E, because they are fat-soluble vitamins and there is no fat in water," Hammock said. "Therefore you're not going to absorb much of the A and E in your body."

Several vitamin water bottlers say the A and E vitamins will be absorbed when people eat food. Others say they've designed the vitamins to be absorbed without food. Vitamins in bottled water also lose strength over time. But most brands have no expiration date posted on the bottles.

Bikoff said Glaceau Water guarantees that "the vitamins maintain their potency for the period of time that they're on the shelf."

Defense and Immune?

Arizona put the symbol for prescription drugs on its label, and it uses names like Immune and Energy. Meanwhile, Glaceau names its waters Defense, Revive, and Endurance.

When GMA's Hunter asked Bikoff if the water named Endurance would actually give drinkers more endurance, Bikoff said he hoped so, but added that Glaceau doesn't make any health claims.

While many vitamin waters clearly look the same as regular bottled water, they aren't calorie free — some contain 100 to 125 calories per bottle. One 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola is 140 calories.

"You know what these waters could do for you if you don't pay attention to the nutrition labeling — it gives you extra calories in your diet," Hammock said. "You're adding sugar basically."

Bikoff acknowledged vitamin water, like Glaceau, contains calories, but less than other drinks on the market." Good Housekeeping is actually looking at it the wrong way," Bikoff said. "We're providing consumers with a low-calorie alternative to what they typically drink."

Some new brands of "vitamin water" cater to weight conscious consumers by keeping calories low. Gatorade's Propel Fitness Water is 10 calories per 8 ounces, and the berry and citrus flavored versions of Reebok's Fitness Water contains 30 calories per 24 ounces.

The manufacturers say they don't claim vitamin water will replace a healthy diet, or regular multi-vitamins. And Hammock said there is no real benefit for consumers who drink vitamin water. "It's only beneficial for the company's bottom line," Hammock said.