I don’t usually buy anything to drink when I’m out, because I always bring a water bottle from home with me. But, while I was out exploring the city with my transit pass, my water bottle ran dry, and so I went in search of something to drink in Wal-Mart. (Yeah, I happened to be in a mall. Which, sadly, had no water fountains, as far as I knew.)

I ended up purchasing Aquafina’s plus+ Vitamins 10 CAL. yumberry pomegranate, a vitamin-enhanced water only available in Canada at the moment . I didn’t choose this because I needed the vitamins (I eat enough veggies and whole grains to get my nutrients, thank you); rather, I bought it because it cost only $1 — the same amount that a regular, 500 mL bottle of re-filtered tap water would’ve cost me. “Why not spend that $1 on something new instead?” I reasoned. And besides, this bottle has 91 mL more liquid — my economics professor would tell me that this gives me more consumer surplus.

The nutrition information for this water sounded promising. (Well, actually, they called it “Medicinal Facts”, probably in an attempt to tap into the public’s general desire to be healthier these days. All it did for me was remind me of horrible bitter tasting liquids… So much for that marketing campaign.) For the entire bottle, you will consume:

  • Calories: 10
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g / 5%
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Vitamin C: 148 mg / 250% DV
  • Vitamin E: 7.8 mg / 80% DV
  • Vitamin B5: 5.3 mg / 80% DV
  • Vitamin B3: 5.0 mg / 20% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 0.7 mg / 40% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 2.3 mcg / 120% DV

A tasty drink with that many vitamins for only 10 calories and no sugar? It sounded too good to be true. I read on to the “Non-Medicinal Ingredients” list:

Water, erythritol, natural yumberry and pomegranate flavours, citric acid, xanthan gum, calcium lactate, potassium citrate, Reb A (PureVia brand natural pure stevia extract), modified corn starch, red colour, calcium phosphate dibasic, gum arabic, ginger extract, dandelion root extract.

…Wha? What is all this stuff doing in water? Water should not contain that many unpronounceable ingredients, nor should it contain xanthan gum or corn starch! (And it even dares to call itself a “natural health product”?) I was a bit hesitant to buy it after reading this, especially seeing the use of a non-sugar sweetener (I don’t trust any sweetener other than sugar, even if they say it’s an natural extract), but it was either this fancily-packaged and potentially tasty concoction, or a bottle of tap water. Let’s just say, there was little competition.

At first, I thought it tasted okay. Maybe I was just thirsty. Or maybe it did taste good. In any case, I could taste some kind of fruit flavour. However, after a few more sips, I began to recognize the off-taste that the artificial sweetener gave. Sure, it’s not asparatame, it’s not Splenda, but the sweetness just didn’t taste right. It left an odd aftertaste. I didn’t really want to finish the remaining half of the bottle, but I was thirsty. Although I was beginning to question whether the drink itself was causing me to be thirsty once I drained the bottle — why did I feel almost thirstier than before?

The label recommended that people 12 years and older should drink a bottle one to two times a day. I’m thinking, “Why should I fill myself with weird chemicals to get my vitamins, when I can eat real food?” Granted, a bottle of Aquafina plus+ does provide quite a lot of vitamins for very little calories, which is good for our weight- and health-conscious society, but how much of these vitamins do we actually absorb from such enhanced waters? A Google search yields conflicting results. What articles tend to agree on though is that we absorb nutrients better from real, solid food.

But I suppose this is a good substitute for those downing three Cokes a day, AND don’t mind the unusual taste of artificial sweeteners. After all, since you’re going to put so many man-made substances into yourself anyway, why not drink something that will somewhat nourish you instead?