Is That Right? Crystal Light Makes Women Drink More Water
Ads for Crystal Light low-calorie powdered drink mixes say that "Women who use Crystal Light drink 20 percent more water." (They don't say more than whom, but we're to understand they mean more than women who don't use the product.)
But what else are you getting with that water?
Some varieties of Crystal Light are vitamin-fortified: the "Enhanced" formulas, for instance, contain mixes of small quantities of caffeine, vitamins A, C, E, B6 and B12 to promote, variously, "Energy," "Immunity," or "Hydration." The "Sunrise" series provides 100 percent of the DV for Vitamin C and 10 percent of the DV for calcium. A "Skin Essentials" line promises to "nourish your skin from within" with vitamins A, C and E plus a "plant extract containing lutein and xeaxanthin." (These last two are thought to help combat macular degeneration, an eye condition, but aren't established as helping the skin in any particular way.)
I'm all for vitamins and minerals, but I'd just as soon get mine from whole fruits, vegetables and other real foods. And don't be fooled by the names of Crystal Light products: there's nary a pomegranate, strawberry or mango in the bunch.
As for water itself, I like mine straight from the tap and can't understand why people need to sweeten it and add artificial flavor. A nice slice of lemon in a glass of cold water is as refreshing as all get-out (and something the Crystal Light folks themselves recommend in one of their Web-site tips). A yoga friend of mine brings to class a bottle of something she calls "nice water" -- water with cucumber slices.
But my real gripe with Crystal Light is that, despite the Web site's admirable provision of information about the importance of keeping your body hydrated and water's effect on your health, their products depend for their low calorie content on two artificial sweeteners that I just don't trust: aspartame and acesulfame potassium. As I've written before, I can't tolerate the former, and while I have little first-hand experience with the latter, I'd just as soon keep it that way.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest maintains a list of food additives that advises as to whether they're safe to consume. Both aspartame and acesulfame potassium receive big Xs, which indicate the ingredient is something to "AVOID. Unsafe in amounts consumed or is very poorly tested and not worth any risk." the Blue 1 artificial coloring used in at least one Crystal Light product (Immunity Cherry Pomegranate) is on CSPI's X list, and the commonly used Red 40 and Yellow 5 are to be used with caution, as CSPI deems them not fully tested.
Of course, Crystal Light is far from the only product to contain these artificial sweeteners and colors. But weighing the potential health benefits of drinking Crystal Light against the potential harm, though perhaps small, makes me wonder why people would take the risk. I'll get my 20 percent more water from...water.
Opinions vary as to how much water we need to drink in a day; the standard advice to drink 8 daily 8-ounce glasses is an okay guideline, though not one supported by scientific evidence. In any case, drinking enough so you don't feel thirsty and your urine comes out pale yellow should suffice.
Do you think you drink enough water? Do you need to add stuff to it to make it palatable? Speak up in the comments section!
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