Did Vitamin Water XXX Trick You Too?

Deceitful Vitamin Water XXX

Last week a federal magistrate approved moving forward on a class action suit against makers of Vitamin Water, the Coca Cola Company. The suit was filed over 4 years ago by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), alleging that Vitamin Water is misleading consumers with its marketing tactics.

Let’s take a look at the product and judge for ourselves, shall we?

What you need to know:

We’ve chosen as an example this product: Vitamin Water XXX acai-blueberry-pomegranate.

Just the name exudes an air of healthfulness, as it lists top 3 fruit antioxidant sources, not to mention “Vitamin Water” which sounds so much better for you than just plain “water”. The XXX stands for the “triple antioxidants” formula, but of course is a bonus wordplay for adults too.

Despite the fact that there is less than one half of one percent of real juice in this product, Vitamin Water touts the product as follows:

c’mon get your mind out of the gutter, we only named this drink xxx because it gives you the benefits of antioxidants to fight free radicals and help support your health.

So where do all the antioxidants come from? Probably some lab that synthetically manufactures vitamins to fortify foods and beverages.

Here is the ingredient list:

reverse osmosis water, crystalline fructose, cane sugar, less than 0.5% of: citric acid, vitamin c (ascorbic acid), fruit and vegetable juice (color), natural flavor, berry and fruit extracts (apple, pomegranate, acai, and blueberry), magnesium lactate (electrolyte), vitamin b3 (niacinamide), vitamin b5 (calcium pantothenate), calcium lactate (electrolyte), potassium phosphate (electrolyte), beta-carotene, vitamin b6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin b12, manganese citrate, gum acacia.

Note how the ingredient names are aimed to get you hyped about the chic and vitality of the product. It’s not just any water being provided to you – it’s “reverse osmosis” water, whatever that means, probably better than regular water, right?

Let us translate the above hogwash into simple terms:

water, sugar, colors, inert vitamins & minerals

The sugar content in this product (crystalline fructose and cane sugar) is much more relevant to your health than the vitamin content. It has 13 grams per serving (4.25 teaspoons), but the bottle, which you will drink in its entirety, has 2.5 servings or 35 grams of sugar. That’s almost 9 teaspoons of sugar!

At least the coloring is natural (most likely from beets).

If you think the XXX berry scent and flavor is from the triumvirate acai, blueberry, and pomegranate, please note that they appear AFTER the “Natural Flavor” in the ingredient list. Rest assured that some laboratory has perfected the right combination of natural chemicals to excite your olfactory and taste sensors.

What other “functional foods” or beverages have you encountered making silly health insinuations like this one? Just look carefully at the marketing materials of many junk food companies and you’ll discover a popular trend – focusing on a single nutrient (or two) instead of a package of thousands of nutrients that we get only when eating whole foods.

As sad as the above example is, Vitamin Water is a Billion Dollar brand for Coca Cola. Just watch how their lawyers will weasel them out of the lawsuit.

What to do at the supermarket:

Get your anti-oxidants from real fruit, not sugar water. Skip the supermarket beverage aisle and stick with tap water. Filter it if needed. With the money you save you’ll be able to afford all the tasty, healthy fruits you desire.

Get Fooducated

  • Dru

    What do people suggest for sports drinks to rehydrate with additional electrolytes?

    • Ashleigh Sorensen

      They usually say that you don’t really need all the extra electrolytes in sports drinks unless you’re working out for over an hour; drinking water is effective for most of us who aren’t professional athletes.

      • Dru

        it doesn’t really answer my question. when I work out or am in an active sport like tennis running p90x basketball kayaking paddle boarding… it’s almost always a minimum of 2 hours. or I end up doing different sports back to back.

      • Lora

        Or you could just drink some coconut water

    • Kristi

      This is the drink I use and love! It’s natural and it works. It was originally developed for boxer Evander Holyfield.
      http://krististone.isagenix.com/us/en/wantmoreenergy.dhtml

    • Insatiable Booksluts

      Because you sweat, and when you sweat, it isn’t just pure water (hence, why sweat often tastes salty or stings your eyes). Electrolytes are to help replenish what you’ve lost through sweat.

  • Max_Freedom

    I can’t believe anyone ever thought Vitamin water was healthy.
    It’s sugary salty kool aid just like gatorade.
    It’s garbage.

  • Deb

    You don’t know what reverse osmosis is? You probably shouldn’t be writing an article until you have done your research.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      someone woke up without a sense of humor today.

    • Tj Duncan

      I hope you’re not actually serious. It’s called sarcasm. A great use of sarcasm, if I do day so,

      • Insatiable Booksluts

        I wouldn’t call it a great use of sarcasm at all, actually. To be a great use of sarcasm, it would need to be about something worthy of contempt. I can tell you for a fact that reverse-osmosis water tastes amaaaaaazing. Way better than tap water. (Fun fact: if you’ve ever had a drink from Starbucks, you’ve had reverse-osmosis water. They use it because it produces a better drink than just reg’lar tap water.)

  • GAngel

    This product actually kept me alive and working 12 hr shifts at the hospital while I couldn’t keep any food in my body due to active celiac disease. So as far as an oral form of Iv fluid goes it was pretty darn good product and saved me from being dehydrated and admitted.

    They do also make a zero calorie form.

    I agree regular water hydration is best. But every once and a while everyone wants a drink with a little flavor.

    • Tim Hooper

      Why not a water bottle and a banana? Your post makes no sense whatsoever. This “product” kept you alive? really? If you can’t find a healthier alternative to keep yourself alive, than you are a lost cause. Oh zero calorie form? You must also prefer diet cola over regular………

      • Insatiable Booksluts

        “couldn’t keep any food in my body” – that’s why not a water bottle and a banana.

        Also, someone took their judgey pills today, didn’t they?

  • Caroline

    Wow,= I am actually drinking this exact product now, gross. But how are they able to get away on the label saying that there is less than one gram of sugar in the bottle when you are saying there is actually 35g? The serving size on the label says 1 bottle, carbs 4g, sugar <1g.

    • Caroline

      Oh wait, I am drinking the ZERO version. Would love to hear about that one.

      • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

        Same as above with the bonus of carcinogenic artificial sweeteners. Look it up on our app / website.

        • adam

          Stevia

  • chef Marshall

    Natural Flavors, argh, how I loath thee!! Help Fooducate!

  • eMatters

    Thanks for the timely report. I just had this exact drink at the movie theater a few days ago. I’m not naive about nutrition claims — I use the Fooducate app, after all, and read this blog — but I figured that this drink would be at least a little better than a Coke or a “sports” drink. Ugh. Just water, milk and my homemade smoothies from now on.

  • stardust

    I drink vitamin water zero