Vitamin water is not nutritious

Updated on 19 January 2011 | 0 Comments

It's official: vitamin water is not nutritious.

This week, the Advertising Standard Authority banned Coca-Cola from advertising its vitamin water brand as nutritious after upholding three complaints about the amount of sugar it contains.

Coca-Cola said four or five teaspoons of sugar in a 500ml drink – more than a quarter of the daily recommended intake of sugar - could be described as nutritious because the drink also contained vitamins.

But the ASA disagreed, claiming the description was misleading as the consumers would not expect a ‘nutritious’ drink to have so much sugar. It has banned this ad for the product.

Here at, we can’t say that we are surprised by this news. We tried the raspberry-apple version a few weeks ago and found it tasted like pre-masticated chewing gum or a weak Ribena squash now home to paint-brushes. The fact that the bottle tells you ‘to stay perky and use sick days to just, erm, not go in’ merely adds to our distaste. 

Water, water everywhere

The bottled water industry is predicted to be worth £86m in 2011, up 41% since 2006, and so you can see why Coca Cola thought there was money in the Vitamin Water concept.

Flavoured water is just the inevitable fun aunt to boring water, cashing in on our thirst for turgid cells and longevity.  And hecklers have been telling us to drink more water at every opportunity for years.

Three litres a day, 8 glasses, down it, sip it, glug it, hydrate, dilute, drink.  It’s every health-kick's fuel, every facialist’s demand as if the constant imbibement of H2O will keep us awash from sin and looking like Jennifer Aniston rather than biltong

The only time some of us are without a small water bottle, brim from our Brita filters, is in that small scanning chasm in the airport after we've downed one and before we've acquisitioned another. 

But plain old water is boring, sometimes it’s so boring that it won’t go down no matter how much you know necking 3 pints before bed after your Margarita fest, will do you good. 

J Darius Bikoff was the first to decide the answer to this insipid tedium was Vitamin Water.  This ballsy coloured flock arrived on the scene in 2000 and on English shores in 2008, forcing Evian, Vittel and Volvic to drop a rung on the racks and look humdrum. 

Interestingly, Rapper 50 cent cashed on in the trend by personally endorsing the Formula 50 vitamin water brand. He said 'they do a good job of making water taste better' and went onto to reportedly got $400m for his 10% share. 

Why has Vitamin Water become popular?

It’s a classic case of a lot of blurb, philosophy and instruction drowning out a thin, wishy-washy product; it reminds us of the film Hook in that it suggests if you really, really believe, as some V-Water drinkers do, there will be a colourful and imaginative explosion.  And so you wait. And wait. And wait....

The fact is, this fad isn’t about the taste. Vitamin Water is one of those products tailored to the individual, to show that you ‘get it’, that you are choosing your own specific blend of Vitamin b3, b5, b6, b12 and c, a cocktail for you in your own hue that sounds like a classroom orgy. 

Drinking a specific Vitamin Water, like chanting a yoga mantra, implies that you know yourself.  But truth is they all taste the same despite their raunchy colours – of a post dessert snog.

And, clearly, neither are they the health-bombs they claim to be.  With 23g of sugar per bottle, they are probably as likely to spirit away an old tooth as the black magic doctor himself. 

There are worse options

Having said that, Vitamin Water is perhaps a better option than Firefly or This Water, part of the Innocent drinks empire, which also recently had an ad banned for failing to mention the whopping 42g of sugar they’re sparkling with. 

That ad was also deigned to be misleading, which pretty much sums up the Vitamin Water industry – misleadingly better than water; you might as well just eat some strawberry laces and have some fun. 

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