Vitamin waters don't meet daily intake recommendations, experts say

While bottlers tout the benefits of new vitamin-rich waters, some experts caution the popular beverages might not offer any added health advantages.

While manufacturers tout the benefits of new flavoured waters packed with vitamins, some experts are cautioning the popular beverages might not offer any added health advantages.

Joe Schwarcz, of McGill's Office for Science and Society, says he's unconvinced by the beverage companies' claims.

"It's all about trying to convince people that there's some advantage there over consuming ordinary bottled water," Schwarcz said.

For example, Vitaminwater — a popular brand sold in the U.S. — says its energy drinks boost the immune system, improve physical endurance and help metabolic functioning.

But Schwarcz noted that most people's workouts don't reach a level of intensity that demands vitamin replacement.

Other experts say the enriched beverages do little to help people meet the recommended daily intake of vitamins or other essential elements.

"One product that we've come across,300 millilitres of the fluid contains only 16 to 20 milligrams of calcium," said Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a medical professor at Hamilton's McMaster University. "To put that into perspective anywhere from 800 to 1200 milligrams of calcium is the recommended [daily] intake."

Consumers demanding alternatives to soda pop

Still, the drinks are proving appealing to thirsty consumers seeking less-sugary and non-carbonated drinks.

In May, Coca-Cola Co. acquired Vitaminwater's parent company, Glacéau, in a deal estimated to be worth $4.1 billion US. Industry watchers said the purchase would help the company secure a portion of the energy drink market, as more and more consumers opt for healthier alternatives to soda pop.

Shoppers Drug Mart spokeswoman Pat Chapman said demand in Canada is also strong.

"We looked at trends in other countries around the world and saw that there was not only a demand here in Canada but certainly a trend worldwide to have enhanced water products," she said.