There’s a lot of hype surrounding healthy food and drink options as the U.S. becomes brutally aware of the consequences of fast food and poor dietary habits. There’s an ever-increasing weight placed on making healthy choices, which has heavily impacted the advertising industry. Consumers are bombarded with the old adage “you are what you eat.”
There’s a shared, newfound awareness that care should be taken and labels consulted before consuming food and beverages. This has led many companies to enhance or replace their offerings with choices designed to assist consumers in their attempt to evaluate their daily dietary needs.
Out of almost nothing, this has spawned the enhanced beverage industry. These drinks, which promise to fulfill daily electrolyte and vitamin requirements, seem as though they may be just what consumers want and need. But are they, in fact, a healthy choice? Or are they a waste of money?
Before a decision can be made, it certainly pays to look at the benefits, as well as any concerns.
The Benefits of Enhanced Beverages
There are many benefits to drinking vitamin enhanced beverages. Check out the list of advantages below:
- They’re (generally) low in calories and sugar. Many enhanced drink options are water- or tea-based, rather than juice-based. Water is naturally calorie free, so beverages based on it instead of juice have a tendency to remain low in caloric and sugar content. This is great for consumers wanting to limit their caloric intake while still quenching thirst with a satisfying taste.
- They help meet daily vitamin intake requirements. Without strict attention, it can be easy to lose track of whether or not daily vitamin intake recommendations are being met. Supplementing nutritional needs with enhanced drinks can be an easy way to ensure you’re getting what you need.
- Enhanced beverages are naturally hydrating. The human body is made up of close to 60% water, so it’s incredibly important to continuously refuel that supply. Drink options that are full of water help to replenish and hydrate the body. Hydration is imperative to maintain proper function, and it plays a large part in the efficiency of the heart, kidneys and muscle systems.
- They come in a wide range of choices. The enhanced beverage industry is rapidly evolving as health breakthroughs come to life. This gives us a full range of healthy drink options. Organic, protein-rich options are now the norm, as well as enhanced beverage options that are full of antioxidants and minerals.
- They replenish electrolytes. Arguably one of the greatest benefits of enhanced drinks (and the purpose of the original enhanced sports drinks) is their ability to help replenish electrolytes. Found in the blood stream and urine, electrolytes tend to be lost during exercise. If left alone, this loss could impact the body’s balance and performance with varying levels of pH levels and water content, according to Rick Rockwell from Livestrong. Maintaining these levels is key to proper hydration and movement.
The Downsides of Enhanced Beverages
There are clearly a lot of benefits to reaching for an enhanced beverage over juice or even plain water. But what about the negatives?
- Overdoing the vitamins and minerals can be dangerous. With the many benefits of consuming enhanced beverages, it’s important not to consume more vitamins than what’s necessary. Anahad O’Connor posed thought-provoking questions regarding this issue, noting that unmonitored consumption of nutrients in enhanced beverages can take mineral levels to troublesome and dangerous levels.
- It’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Improper use can affect the body’s balance and water levels, counteracting the drinks’ many benefits. Consuming too many antioxidants, for example, can actually make it harder for your body to fight infections or even the cells that cause cancer.
- You might not expect so much sugar. Though marketed as healthy alternatives to more unhealthy beverages like juice or soda, many vitamin enhanced beverages still have a shockingly large amount of sugar. Be sure to check the label before you buy, and remember that sometimes the serving size is only a portion of the bottle.
Choosing Your Beverage
Enhanced beverages are available in a wide variety of price points, satisfying nearly every sector of the targeted market. If you pick the right beverage, these special drinks can be incredibly beneficial to the consumer.
How do you know what to look for? The beverages you choose will depend on your supplemental needs, but make sure to read the labels and evaluate the level of sugar and any health claims that do not seem grounded in reality. To avoid over-consuming vitamins and minerals, keep an eye on the DV (Daily Value) column of the nutritional information. Try to have a variety of beverages instead of consuming too much of any one in particular.
Through continued education of how to care for and fuel the body, enhanced beverages will become increasingly more popular in the U.S., providing a great alternative to traditional supplements.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=””]Adrienne Erin is a health-conscious freelance designer and avid writer. When she’s not glued to her computer screen, you might find her experimenting with new juice and smoothie recipes, growing a batch of microgreens, or planning her next roadtrip. To see more of her work or get in touch, follow @foodierx on Twitter or visit her blog, Foodie Fitness.[/thrive_text_block]