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"Enhanced Waters" flood market, drain pockets. (Product Watch).

It seems marketers have decided pure water isn't good enough anymore. Why not add "value" (read vitamins, minerals, herbs), yet still call it "water"? We call it devious and misleading, not to mention unnecessary.

While water is essential to good health, these "enhanced water beverages" are anything but. Most contain sugar and, though not as caloric as soft drinks, are more insidious, because they look like water and are sold like water, not to mention being called water! Here's the lowdown:

Sugar Sneak Attack. "Forty or 50 calories `per serving' may not seem like much, but if you drink a whole bottle of some of these waters, you could end up with almost as many calories as in a can of soda," says Dawn Jackson, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs, Oh My! Most enhanced waters tout an array of vitamins and minerals. For people already taking a daily multi and maybe eating fortified cereal, this is unnecessary and potentially harmful if you drink a lot of the stuff. Some brands also contain herbal extracts in undisclosed quantities, which could cause unwanted side effects, such as medication interactions. For example, Elements Enhanced Water from Snapple contains ginseng, a natural stimulant, and guarana, a source of caffeine.

EN's Advice. Skip this trend. If flavored water means you'll drink more water, then choose a noncaloric flavored seltzer.

Selected Enhanced Waters

(listed alphabetically)

Brand                     Calories per            Sweetener
                         8-oz. Serving *

Aquafina Essentials,           40          Fructose-glucose syrup,
Multi-V                                    crystalline fructose

Elements Enhanced              40          Crystalline fructose
Water, Berry

[Fruit.sub.2]O Plus,            0          Sucralose
Tropical Immunity

Glaceau Vitaminwater,          50          Crystalline fructose

Propel Fitness Water           10          Sucrose, sucralose

Reebok Fitness                 30          High fructose corn
Water, Citrus                              syrup

Brand                              Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs

Aquafina Essentials,     Vitamins B6, B12, C, E, niacin, pantothenic
Multi-V                  acid

Elements Enhanced        Vitamins B6, B12, niacin, pantothenic
Water, Berry             acid, ginseng, guarana

[Fruit.sub.2]O Plus,     Vitamins A, B6, niacin, zinc, echinacea,
Tropical Immunity        astragalus, ginseng, schizandra

Glaceau Vitaminwatelr,   Vitamins B6, B12, C, riboflavin, niacin,
Stress-B                 pantothenic acid, St. John's wort, kava kava

Propel Fitness Water     Vitamins B6, C, E, niacin, pantothenic acid

Reebok Fitness           Vitamins B6, B12, C, folic acid, chromium,
Water, Citrus            magnesium, selenium, zinc

* Note that one bottle often contains more than one "serving,"
as defined by the manufacturer. Check the label.
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Publication:Environmental Nutrition
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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