Water is one of the most important things in life. But for something so essential, it’s not very exciting, is it?
Drinking plain water isn’t always the most Earth-shattering thing in the world, but here are the facts you need to know before you spend money on one of those specialty bottles of water, such as coconut water, vitamin-enhanced and electrolyte water.
Dubbed “mother nature’s sport drink,” coconut water’s high levels of potassium, sodium, and antioxidants make it seem like the ultimate post-sweat swig. But just last year, scientists at ConsumerLab.com took several brands of coconut water to the lab and tested them to be sure. Their findings? Only one brand actually contained the amount of sodium and potassium claimed on its nutritional label.
Assuming the label is telling the truth, coconut water is a decent choice for after a light workout, but it’s not a good call after intense ones because it doesn’t contain enough sodium, according to a recent study presented at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.
Now some of these beverages do have vitamins in them. But many of them also are 200 calories and have 33 g of sugar per bottle, making them more like soda than water.
What’s more, says Ara DerMarderosian, PhD, a pharmacognosy professor at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, waters that are heavily fortified with vitamins and minerals may actually suppress your immune system if you’re already taking in enough vitamins and minerals through your diet.
If you want a little zing in your water, try Ayala’s Hint, Metromint, or Wateroos. Each bottle is free of sugar, sweeteners, preservatives and calories.
Electrolyte water is distilled (which means it’s boiled and then recondensed from the steam to kill microbes and remove minerals) and enhanced with potassium, magnesium, and calcium. According to the company’s website, it also “one-ups ma nature by adding in electrolytes for faster hydration.”
But there’s no real evidence of there being a benefit to adding electrolytes to a hydration formula, experts say, unless you’re intensely exerting yourself in blazing heat and eating isn’t an option. Otherwise, plain water is just as effective.
Don’t Forget BPA
Keep in mind that when you’re buying a bottle of water, you may also be paying for something you definitely don’t want: BPA. Many plastics are made with BPA—a hormone-disrupting chemical that’s been linked to increased risk of heart disease and obesity—which means your bottled water is swimming with the chemical, too.
And then, of course, there’s the issue of where the water actually comes from. In 2007, after receiving pressure from the nonprofit group Corporate Accountability International, Pepsi’s Aquafina confessed their true source of water was filtered tap—not a mountain spring as they’d claimed.