Do fortified waters have health benefits?

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Sports drinks, fitness waters, vitamin-infused waters and flavored waters are the rage.

Sports drinks—are supposed to replenish electrolytes including sodium and potassium. They also typically contain sugar to replenish energy stores used during exercise. Do you really need one during or after exercise? Only if you engage in sustained intense exercise for more than an hour in which case 50-70 calories should be enough to replenish your glycogen stores. Otherwise the excess calories will simply add to your day’s calorie total and possibly add unnecessary calories.

Fitness waters—they are “diet” sports drinks, meaning lower in calories. Some have electrolytes but most don’t have enough calories from sugar to fuel muscles during or after a vigorous workout. They can be refreshing after a moderate or shorter workout. If you are going to choose one, go for zero calories and just look for about 80 to 100 mgs of sodium to replace whatever was lost in sweat. In most cases plain water will suffice.

Vitamin waters—are usually flavored and typically have vitamins A, B, C and E. The label usually promises extra energy or an immunity boost or a boost to mental clarity. Truth is that if you have a “nutrition gap” the small amounts of vitamins may help to boost those stores a bit. You also need to be careful if you do take supplements, since a high intake of vitamins can cause health issues. To avoid a potential overload on vitamins, just drink water. You can flavor it with essence of lemon, lime or a squeeze of juice.

Flavored waters—If infused with berries, cucumber or other natural flavors and if it’s a zero calorie beverage, it’s a fine choice. But you don’t need added calories or artificial sweeteners so either make your own or just enjoy pure H2O.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.