Vitamin Drinks: Helpful or Hype?

Posted by Steffanie Campbell, M.D. on Mar 9, 2016, 7:30:00 AM

There is a constant focus on health and healthy living now and this is fantastic. Wanting to live healthier lives in order to live longer and be happier is a good thing. But there is a downside. With such a strong focus on being healthy comes a wealth of products that masquerade as “healthy” or “helpful” when they can actually hurt or, in most cases, do nothing at all. This is something that’s come up with patients when they ask about the health benefits of vitamin water. “Are vitamin drinks helpful?” “Are they healthy?” “Will they help me meet my daily requirement of vitamins?” 

How Else Can You Get Your Vitamins?

Truth be told, if you’re the type of conscientious person who wants to make sure you’re getting the daily required amount of vitamins to stay healthy, you’re probably already eating a healthy diet and are getting the vitamins you need. If you eat a healthy breakfast and a salad at lunch and dinner along with some lean protein and chances are you’ve exceeded the minimum requirement of vitamins you need for the day. Here, the question isn’t so much “Are vitamin drinks helpful?” as much as it is “Do I need it?” especially when you consider that just plain water is so good for you. 

But let’s say that you’re not necessarily a healthy eater. Will vitamin drinks help you meet your daily requirement then? The answer is maybe, but to be healthy, you should get your vitamins through healthy eating rather than a vitamin drink — that’s how you’ll see real changes.

vitamin_drinks_bottle-466869037.jpgCheck the Label on that Drink

Vitamin drinks do have extra vitamins in them, way more than in the regular water you’ll drink, but they also have extra sugar, and that’s probably not what you’re looking for when you’re trying to be healthy. 

To help put this into perspective, a nonprofit public interest group sued the Coca-Cola company in 2010 on the grounds it was making untruthful claims about its vitamin water. Coca-Cola had promoted the product as a healthy drink, but when it came to its defense, Coca-Cola representatives said that “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitamin water was a healthy beverage.” 

Another point to consider is that when vitamins are added to water, sugar has to be added to make them palatable, otherwise the amount of vitamins a company would be able to add would be negligible. In addition to sugar, preservatives and emulsifiers must also be added to make the vitamins drinkable. 

The Verdict

When you get right down to it, drinking vitamin water probably won’t hurt or help you one way or the other, unless you’re drinking an exorbitant amount of it, in which case the sugar isn’t good for you. 

If you feel you need to be getting more vitamins, the best approach is to eat good food: leafy greens, lean protein and good fats such as walnuts, almonds and avocados. 

And if you feel you’re vitamin deficient, go see your doctor. He or she can typically assess your vitamin levels and other key health indicators through a blood test and tell you either how to eat in order to make up for the deficiency or which vitamins you should be taking. It’s a good vitamin water won’t be on the menu. 


Dr. Steffanie Campbell specializes in Internal Medicine at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – Pearland. Preventive care, individualized care plans and women’s health are her primary clinical interests.


Topics: vitamin drinks

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