You'd definitely think so from the numbers: Companies made $428 million on enhanced water in 2004, versus $20 million in 2000, making it one of the fastest-growing beverage market segments. But whether it's better for you depends on what you're looking for. If flavor and the convenience of grab-and-go bottles top your list, there may be good reason to choose bottled over tap. But for vitamin supplementation? Maybe not.
If you like sweetness but don't want to worry about calories, there are artificially sweetened choices such as Dasani's lemon-, raspberry-, or strawberry-flavored waters, and Fruit2O (both use Splenda are calorie-free).
Some brands taste like watered-down candy. We preferred fruitier down flavors like Glaceau Fruitwater Raspberry (sweetened with fructose, it has 50 calories per 20-ounce bottle). The upshot: Read the labels, especially if you're counting calories or if artificial sweeteners bother you.
Nutrient enhancedThere are all kinds of fortified waters to consider, including products that come packaged with minerals straight from Mother Nature or waters with added nutrients, like electrolytes and vitamins.
Some sparkling mineral waters come out of the earth with calcium already in them like Sanfaustino (with ready 450 milligrams per liter), and Gerolsteiner (348 mg per liter). These provide at least a third of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of calcium for a 30-year-old woman—1,000 mg a day—if you drink the whole bottle (a cup of skim milk has 306 mg). Calcium content isn't always on labels, so check the maker's Web site to see how your bottle measures up.
If you prefer your water flat, try Pink2O, a brand that comes in four flavors aimed at women. A 20- ounce bottle has 104 mg of calcium plus a bonus: more than half a woman's recommended 400 micrograms of folic acid, which helps prevent neuraltube birth defects.
Other offerings include Propel Fitness Water, Aquafina Essentials, Glaceau SmartWater, VitaZest, and a host of other waters. Each of these is enhanced with its own assortment of nutrients.
What about drinking fortified waters just for the vitamins and minerals? You're better off getting them from food, particularly fruits and vegetables, Sasson says. But if you want a vitamin insurance policy, take an ordinary multivitamin with ordinary tap water.
If you're a fortified-water fan, don't worry: You won't OD on vitamins unless you down gallons of it.
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