Water Flavor Enhancers a Healthy Option?


Water enhancers have been around for decades. You probably had them in your cupboard as a child—Kool-Aid and Tang. But water enhancers got a facelift in 2012 when the beverage aisle started filling up with squeeze bottles of concentrated liquid flavor, all in an effort to get Americans to drink more water.

Rachel Wagner, a dietitian with St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center, says “If you’re someone who never drinks water, then if you’re drinking water with Mio or Crystal Light, certainly it’s better than drinking a pop. But if you’re only drinking flavored water, then that might not be the best either.”

The $2.83 million industry has products that add more than flavor. Top brands include Mio, Sakara, Hydrasurge, Dasani, Stur, Liquid IV, Celsius, Sweetleaf Water Drops and True.

Different products may add caffeine, electrolytes and vitamins. Almost all enhancers are sweetened, either with fructose, sugar, or other artificial sweeteners. Water enhancers can also have ingredients that don’t provide much value, including aspartame and sucralose.

Wagner says, “Some brands also contain the preservative propylene glycol, an additive also found in airplane de-icing fluid, e-cigarette vaping fluid and car batteries.”

Safely Enhancing the Flavor of Water

Wagner said dietitians recommend people take in a minimum of 64 ounces of water a day, potentially more depending on rehydrating needs. If you’re drinking a glass or two, say 16 ounces of flavored water as part of your 64 ounces, then there’s no problem.

You should also take in plain water or make your own enhancer to avoid the chemicals and additives. Wagner suggests the following:

  • Use a fruit infuser and add fresh fruit to add flavor.
  • Boil fruits or berries to make a concentrate and add to water.
  • Boil tea bags to make a concentrate that you can add to water.
  • Use lemon, lime, or orange zest and soak them in water overnight.

Wagner also cautioned us to watch our intake of caffeinated waters. Caffeine’s diuretic properties will cause you to excrete water, which can effectively defeat the purpose of drinking more water.

For more information

For more information on adding liquid water enhancers to your diet, talk to your primary care physician or schedule an appointment at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center by calling 859-212-4625 (GOAL). You can also watch our free medical weight management seminar online.