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VitaminWater’s health claims scoffed at by consumer group

VitaminWater isn’t as benign, much less as healthy, as some consumers might think, critics say. And now one of those critics -- the National Consumers League -- has taken this complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.

The group says it’s “shocked” (seriously, that’s the word it used) that Glaceau, the maker of VitaminWater, would suggest that the product can keep folks healthy.

The missive to the public continues: “ ‘These advertising claims are not only untrue; they constitute a public health menace. Stopping these VitaminWater claims, which contradict information by the Centers for Disease Control and other public health authorities, should be a top FTC priority,’ stated Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL.”

Let’s not forget the letter to the FTC, conveniently posted on National Consumer League’s website.

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On the Glaceau website, meanwhile, you’ll find information about “healthy hydration for every occasion.” Actually, the website sends you to Facebook, but no matter.... Power-C (vitamin C + taurine), you’ll learn, offers 120% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, plus 40% of vitamins B3, B5, B6 and B12. It also offers 10 milligrams of “taurine+zinc+chromium.” There’s no set recommendation for those.

Of course, that’s per 8-ounce serving, according to CalorieCount. And there are 2.5 servings in every bottle.

Surely no one would drink one whole bottle at a sitting. Because, at 50 calories per serving, that would offer a total of 125 calories -- which seems a bit high for water and vitamins.

If you’re unsurprised by the fuss, small wonder. Here’s what ScienceLine wrote some time ago about VitaminWater.

“A vitamin-fortified drink may sound like a swell idea, but there are two caveats to keep in mind. First, most Americans aren’t vitamin-deficient, according to Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University. A government survey in 1999 showed that the median American adult man or woman already consumes more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and B12, and three-quarters of the RDA of vitamins C, B9 and A (including carotenes). In fact, vitamin E is the only surveyed vitamin Americans consume at less than half of the RDA -- but it’s found in only a third of VitaminWater drinks.

“If you want to drink your additional vitamin E, there’s a second caveat: your body may not absorb it.”

Perhaps some changes will be made in the marketing of VitaminWater. Perhaps not. But the well-touted complaint is already making the round of Internet chatter -- and it gives us a chance to remind everyone (once again) that calories count.

Yes, we’re nags. But we’re well-meaning ones.


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