Water is essential for life. There’s no denying that. Water is so important that we die from dehydration far sooner than we do from not getting enough food.
Yet, despite this, mild dehydration is surprisingly common. Many of us simply aren’t getting the water we need every day. Products like Vitaminwater, Smart Water, and even coconut water seem like a fantastic way to solve the problem, as they’re seen to be even more powerful than water on its own.
Is this true though? What about Smart Water? Is Smart Water good for you? Even more importantly, is it better than drinking water straight from the tap or via your water filter? After all, you don’t want to be constantly buying bottled water if it doesn’t help you at all.
Smart Water does seem like it could be helpful, especially if you choose one of the electrolyte-containing products. Still, is the water really that powerful?
To find out, we’re going to take a deep dive into the original Smart Water product, followed by their other offerings, including flavor-infused, antioxidant, and alkaline water.
Table of Contents
- Is Smart Water Good For Your Health?
Is Smart Water Good For Your Health?
- Smart Water, Glacéau, And Coca-Cola
- The Original Smart Water
- Smart Water Flavors
- Smart Water+
- Smart Water Alkaline
- Smart Water Antioxidant
- Is Smart Water Worth The Price?
- Smart Water Versus Vitamin Water
- Final Thoughts
Smart Water, Glacéau, And Coca-Cola
Before we dig into the products themselves, let’s talk a little about the companies involved. Smart Water was originally produced by Energy Brands, Inc., which also goes by the name Glacéau.
Glacéauis still the name on the bottle, but Energy Brands, Inc. doesn’t own the company anymore. They were bought out in 2007 by Coca-Cola, for $4.1 billion, adding to Coca-Cola’s ever-increasing product range.
This change in ownership doesn’t say much about Smart Water itself, one way or the other. Still… Coca-Cola doesn’t have the best reputation. The company seems more concerned about its bottom line than its customers’ health. That’s something to keep in mind when considering Smart Water.
The Original Smart Water
This is the most common product in the Smart Water range. It’s the one you’ll see most often in grocery stores and is the closest to plain water.
What The Marketing Claims
Smart Water is marketed as being pure, crisp, refreshing, and hydrating – all terms that sound amazing. The water itself is vapor-distilled and has added electrolytes to help with the flavor.
The bottle is 100% recyclable, minimizing the environmental impact. There is nothing added beyond the water itself.
The FAQs page even goes as far as to say that the water is free from sugar, sodium, gluten, fluoride, artificial flavors, artificial coloring, GMOs, and the ‘big eight’ allergens. Finally, the pH of the water is purely balanced.
How The Water Helps
It’s Purer Than Tap Water
The main feature of Smart Water is that it’s distilled. Distilling water involves a process of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation, which removes more contaminants than most other processes, including filtering.
Purifying water like this can be useful, as it helps you avoid both organic and inorganic contaminants in water. You’re also avoiding anything that might be added to tap water, including chloride.
Now, tap water can be good for you, but it isn’t always. Sometimes it gets contaminated by lead in the pipes, by agricultural pollution, or by other things. While there are systems in place to keep water safe and identify possible contamination early, these aren’t as effective as they could be.
Sometimes contamination gets missed. Sometimes the levels of pollution in your water are considered safe, even if they’re much higher than you’re happy with. For all these reasons, alternatives to tap water can be helpful.
Distilled water normally tastes flat and unappealing, as minerals and electrolytes are lost during the distillation process and these are what make your water taste interesting.
Smart Water gets around the problem by adding small amounts of electrolytes. As such, you end up with very pure water that still tastes good. That’s pretty impressive really.
You Get The Benefits Of Water
Most importantly, Smart Water gives you all the benefits of water with no concerning ingredients. By drinking water and staying hydrated, you promote good digestion, help to cushion your joints, reduce the risk of constipation, improve your heart health, and experience many other benefits.
Getting enough water may even help you to lose weight and feel more energized. Dehydration, on the other hand, can make it difficult to concentrate or function well. Long-term dehydration has many more severe health effects. This is true even if the dehydration is mild.
Where The Water Fails
The way Coca-Cola describes Smart Water makes it sound absolutely amazing, like it’s this powerful type of water that’s going to offer you countless health benefits.
In practice, though, we’re simply talking about distilled water that has some electrolytes added into it. You’ll see most of the same benefits by simply drinking distilled water. Even filtered water or tap water isn’t incredibly different.
The water is also meant to have a ‘purely balanced pH’, as Coca-Cola carefully monitors pH levels. Interestingly though, they never talk about why doing so is useful or even what pH they’re trying to reach with regular smart water.
Bottled water is always expensive, sometimes averaging around 300 times the price of water from the tap. Smart Water is on the upper end of the bottled water market, so it’s even more expensive again.
Some of that price comes from the distillation process, which is more involved than simply filtering water. Even so, Coca-Cola earns a lot of money from the sale of Smart Water, so part of the price is their profit margin.
Smart Water might be worth the price if it was much better than regular water. But honestly, it’s not. In fact, distilling water mightn’t even be the healthiest approach, as doing so strips the water of its natural minerals.
The Amount Of Electrolytes
Smart Water contains has added calcium, magnesium, and potassium as electrolytes (in the form of calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and potassium bicarbonate). Electrolytes are important in our body and their levels can become out of balance if we’re losing a lot of water through sweat, diarrhea, or some other way.
At first glance, Smart Water seems like a healthy way to replenish these electrolytes. The water even avoids all the controversial additives found in products like Gatorade.
However, a line in Smart Water’s marketing shows that this isn’t the case. They state that their electrolytes are added for taste.
In fact, an 8 oz. serving of Smart Water, only provides around 2.5 mg of potassium and calcium, along with 3.75 mg of magnesium. For that same serving size, Gatorade gives you 30 mg of potassium. Indeed, it’s common to find 30 mg or more of each electrolyte in a serving of an electrolyte drink.
While the electrolytes in Smart Water do still help with how the water tastes, they won’t improve your electrolyte balance in the way that a specialized electrolyte drink will.
Does this matter?
That depends on whether you need electrolytes or not. If you’re sweating heavily, then electrolyte-rich drinks could be powerful and Smart Water isn’t going to be a useful choice. However, if you don’t need electrolytes (and many of us don’t), then Smart Water is better than an electrolyte-rich drink.
The final problem is that you’re buying your water in plastic bottles. The bottles are recyclable, sure, but energy is still used to make the bottles and then to recycle them. Plus, many people just throw the bottles out without taking the effort to recycle them – so there’s plenty of waste, which isn’t good for the environment at all.
Plastic bottles have health implications too, as chemicals may leach from the bottles into your water. The bottles are BPA-free, which reduces the risk of any problems, but even so, it’s always best to avoid plastic bottles for water whenever you can.
Smart Water Flavors
Smart Water currently offers four flavors: Cucumber Lime, Pineapple Kiwi, Strawberry Blackberry, and Watermelon Mint. The only difference between these and the original Smart Water is the addition of natural flavors. The water itself is still distilled and completely sugar free.
While the flavors are surprisingly strong, many people love them. That said, your own preferences will have an impact. For example, some people find that the cucumber lime water tastes too much like cucumber and the lime is barely there at all. Others have no complaints at all.
Because the only additional ingredient here is natural flavors, the flavored water is healthier than many others in the field. That said, the term natural flavors doesn’t tell you much about what the company actually adds in. In practice, natural flavors might be just as concerning as artificial ones.
There are three versions Smart Water+, Clarity, Renew, and Tranquility. They use natural flavors as well, but the approach is a little different.
In particular, Clarity uses ginseng and green tea extracts, Renew uses dandelion and lemon extracts, and Tranquility uses ashwagandha and tangerine extracts. The drinks end up having an unusual flavor profile, while the herbal ingredients could provide extra health benefits.
Still, reviews are mixed on the flavors and you’re still not going to see tremendous benefits. You’d improve your health more by drinking regular water and having a cup of green tea every now and again.
Smart Water Alkaline
This product is ionized to give you a pH of at least 9 (pure water has a pH of around 7, while tap water tends to be around 7.5). A pH of 9 makes the water alkaline and is meant to make it better for you.
Whether this is true or not is incredibly debatable. Much of the challenge is that our bodies naturally regulate our pH levels, so changing the pH of our food and drink doesn’t do much more than change the pH of our urine.
We’ve covered the debate about alkaline water in more depth elsewhere. You can check that post out if you want to learn more. Regardless, the product is simply the regular version of Smart Water with a different pH and is only relevant if you’re interested in drinking alkaline water.
Smart Water Antioxidant
The final version to talk about is Smart Water Antioxidant. Not surprisingly, this is a version of regular Smart Water, with antioxidants added in.
Well, actually, there’s just one antioxidant – selenium. This is an unusual approach. Most similar products include a variety of antioxidants rather than just one.
The potential benefits are easy to see, as antioxidants decrease the risk of oxidative damage and might help to protect you from disease.
Still… antioxidants aren’t exactly rare. They’re found in most plant-based foods, particularly the natural ones that haven’t been processed. Natural foods also contain a wider variety of antioxidants than anything heavily processed. That’s important, as the health effects of antioxidants vary depending on the type that you choose.
With so many sources of antioxidants, you shouldn’t ever need more from your drinking water drinking water.
Besides, most of us are already getting all the selenium we need from our diet. If you’re not, then selenium rich foods are the answer, rather than Smart Water Antioxidant.
Is Smart Water Worth The Price?
For the most part, Smart Water is indeed good for you. The products are all mostly water, after all, so they’ll give you the same benefits that you see from drinking a regular glass of water.
The problem is that there aren’t many extra benefits. The antioxidants and electrolytes aren’t enough to influence your health much at all, while the impact of alkaline water is incredibly debatable.
All you’re left with is the lack of contaminants.
This is an important feature, but it’s hardly unique to Smart Water. Most bottled water should be free of contaminants, as that’s part of the reason for drinking bottled water to begin with. You can also remove contaminants yourself by installing a water filter at home.
Plus, in many parts of the country, your regular tap water is of high quality and will be just fine for keeping you healthy.
Smart Water Versus Vitamin Water
Smart Water might seem similar to Vitaminwater, which we talked about in another post. Both products bear the Glacéau name and are meant to be healthier versions of regular water.
But, while Smart Water is basically regular water with some minor tweaks, Vitaminwater is quite different. For one thing, most versions are flavored, with a flavor selection that includes blueberry hibiscus, dragonfruit, lemonade, strawberry lemonade, watermelon peach, and plenty more.
There are vitamins added too, often including vitamin C and plenty of B vitamins. Some versions have extras too, like antioxidants, electrolytes, taurine, l-theanine, or even chamomile.
The approach isn’t all good though, as the drinks use more additives than Smart Water, including ones for coloring, flavor, and sweetness. Such ingredients are all considered safe, but they’re hardly the best choice for your health.
Smart Water is easily the healthier option of the two. It doesn’t have the same concerning additives and contains barely any calories. The extra vitamins, antioxidants, and the like in Vitaminwater aren’t that powerful anyway. You’ll see more benefits by simply including a few more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Smart Water must be extremely well-marketed, as the product is very popular and highly profitable for Coca-Cola yet isn’t that special at all. We’re just talking about distilled water with tiny amounts of electrolytes added back in. That’s it.
You’ll get just as many benefits for a much lower price by focusing on filtered water instead. This way you don’t need to keep buying plastic bottles full of water. Plus, you can choose your water filters based on the tap water in your area. Doing so helps you maximize the benefits while keeping your costs low.