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Vitamin-Enhanced Drinks May Be Harming Your Health, Study Finds

You think you’re doing your body a service by plucking vitamin-fortified drinks from supermarket shelves by the dozen, but a study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism finds you’re doing just the opposite. 

Researchers analyzed 46 beverages, with and without added sugar, and found many “contained vitamins B6, B12, niacin and vitamin C in quantities ‘well in excess’ of the average daily requirements for young adults,” the New York Times reports

These juices, waters, and sports drinks entice consumers with mood- or performance-enhancing benefits as well as immune system boosts, but the added nutrients are unnecessary and potentially harmful; for example, a 2012 study published in the Cochrane Database found that heart disease patients treated with folic acid and B12 had higher mortality and cancer rates.

Furthermore, a 2012 nationwide study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that the most common vitamins added to these beverages are already plentiful in the average person’s diet, between the foods we eat and the supplements we take. Conversely, the vitamin niacin (naturally found in mushrooms, fish and avocados) is difficult to ingest in large quantities, but is found in excess within a single bottle of “formula 50” Vitaminwater, the New York Times reports—it contains 120% of the daily recommended value. 

“You couldn’t possibly get that much from any natural foods,” Dr. Tarasuk told the New York Times. “That’s concerning to me as a nutrition scientist because we don’t know what the effects of chronic exposure may be. With these products, we’ve embarked on a national experiment.”

Unless you’re a pregnant woman or you have a specific nutritional deficiency, the ubiquitous alcohol mantra now applies to water and juice: drink responsibly.

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