The Hidden Dangers of Flavored Waters
Flavored waters seem harmless enough. After all, they are not sodas, and drinking plenty of water is an important part of staying healthy. And some of them even contain vitamins! Sounds like a smart way to keep your child hydrated, right? Not so fast. While flavored waters may seem like healthy choices at first glance, studies have shown that many ingredients in flavored waters—including high fructose corn syrup, ascorbic acid and artificial colors—actually contribute to tooth decay and the erosion of tooth enamel.
Sure, getting plenty of vitamins is important, but combining vitamins with sugary drinks is not the best choice. What’s more, the vitamin C contained in many flavored water drinks can cause the protective enamel on the tooth’s surface to wear away over time. Vitamin C (often added as ascorbic acid) attacks tooth enamel, causing it to break down. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should avoid vitamin C, but bathing your child’s teeth in ascorbic acid isn’t the best way to do it. A better option: Feed your child foods high in vitamins and skip the vitamin-enriched waters. Getting vitamins from natural food sources also allows them to be better absorbed by the body.
The same goes for corn syrup. Although, ounce for ounce, corn syrup has been shown to result in less tooth decay than refined sugar, drinking flavored waters on a regular basis poses a much more serious cavity risk than plain water or even unsweetened fruit juices. And despite their healthy hype, flavored waters contain a lot more sweetener than you might imagine. Many bottles of flavored water contain as much sugar as a doughnut. What’s more, studies have shown that regular consumption of flavored waters increases the risks of both obesity and diabetes.
The bottom line is this: While an occasional bottle of flavored water may not be harmful, turning it into a habit is not a good idea. Teach your child to drink plain water when thirsty, and provide lots of vitamin-rich natural snacks, like fresh fruits and vegetables. If you let your children indulge in flavored water as a treat, make sure that they rinse well once they finish drinking to remove traces of ascorbic acid and to reduce the risk of dental erosion.
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