Make Your Own Vitamin Water!

Vitamin waters have recently appeared in every drug store and natural-foods market around town, their pastel-colored liquids promising flavor, their labels promising potency and/or wisdom with every sip. They're so hot, Coca-Cola Co. recently announced it would pay $4.1 billion to acquire Energy Brands, maker of the most prominent product, Glacéau VitaminWater. But as every enlightened Seattleite is aware, all those individual plastic bottles represent a tsunami of ecological waste. Which is why I felt called to engage in some reverse engineering. Most of the 15 varieties of VitaminWater contain 100 percent of the FDA's recommended daily allowance of vitamin C per bottle, 25 to 50 percent of four B vitamins, and unspecified amounts of magnesium lactate, calcium lactate, and monopotassium phosphate, all labeled "electrolytes." In addition, certain formulas contain lutein for eyes, others chamomile for peace of mind or taurine for power. I consulted with nutritionists, naturopaths, and vitamin dealers to develop the following recipes, each the equivalent of a VitaminWater variety. With the purchase of a few easy-to-find household chemicals and some crystalline fructose, enterprising cooks and chemists will find the recipes simple to mix up for their hydration pak or hip flask. Of course, you're looking at an outlay of $60 or so for your first batch. But considering that the cheapest of these drinks costs $1.50 a bottle, you'll see a return on your investment in no time.Energy (or "tropical citrus" flavor VitaminWater) 2½ cups (20 ounces) filtered or distilled water ¼ teaspoon Nature's Path Buffered C powder ($9.99 for a 4-ounce jar at Madison Market)1 ¼ teaspoon Twinlab Super B Complex liquid vitamins ($16.19 for an 8-ounce bottle at Rainbow Natural Remedies)2 3/8 capsule of Natural brand guarana seed extract ($7.79 for 90 capsules at Madison Market) 3 tablespoons (1 ounce) crystalline fructose ($1.19 per pound bulk at Madison Market)Power C ("dragonfruit") 2½ cups filtered or distilled water ½ teaspoon Buffered C powder1 ¼ teaspoon Super B Complex2 1/5 drop AquaChrome chromium ($9.95 for a 300-drop vial at Rainbow Natural Remedies) 1/16 teaspoon NOW taurine (approximately $7 plus shipping for an 8-ounce jar, ordered online) Several shavings off a Country Life 50-milligram zinc tablet ($7.39 for 100 at Madison Market) 3 tablespoons (1 ounce) crystalline fructoseFocus ("kiwi-strawberry") 2½ cups filtered or distilled water ¼ teaspoon Buffered C powder1 1/8–1/12 teaspoon Super B complex 1 small drop from a Nature's Life 20-milligram lutein capsule ($19.99 for a bottle of 60 at Madison Market)3 3 tablespoons (1 ounce) crystalline fructosePerform ("lemon-lime") 2½ cups filtered or distilled water 1 packet Emergen-C multivitamin formula ($0.49, purchased singly, most anywhere)4 2½ tablespoons crystalline fructoseNotes: 1. Buffered C powder is ascorbic acid whose sourness is balanced by calcium, magnesium, and potassium—in other words, electrolytes. 2. 1/8 ounce might be more appropriate, depending on the number of the B vitamin. 3. Jean from Madison Market recommends pricking the capsule with a pin and squeezing gently. 4. This shortcut unfortunately provides additional amounts of vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, along with biotin, iodine, zinc, manganese, chromium, and sodium. Notes: 1. Buffered C powder is ascorbic acid whose sourness is balanced by calcium, magnesium, and potassium—in other words, electrolytes. 2. 1/8 ounce might be more appropriate, depending on the number of the B vitamin. 3. Jean from Madison Market recommends pricking the capsule with a pin and squeezing gently. 4. This shortcut unfortunately provides additional amounts of vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, along with biotin, iodine, zinc, manganese, chromium, and sodium. The experienced cook and/or chemist will note two problems with these recipes. First: They lack vegetable-juice colorings and will appear clear, or possibly transparent with white specks. Second: a deficiency in fruity flavors. The solution to both problems would be either to add a sprinkling from a packet of Kool-Aid (blue raspberry's my favorite, and pretty) or to omit the crystalline fructose and replace 1 cup of water with 1 cup of fruit juice. Eight ounces of Knudson's Pure Black Cherry Juice ($3.49 per 32-ounce bottle) has the same 33 grams of sugar as a bottle of VitaminWater. You can even go organic with, say, Woodstock Farms Organic Pure Pineapple ($3.69 for the same amount), though here you'll have to add 7 grams of fructose to achieve the same naturally stimulating effects as the branded vitamin waters have. Real fruit juices considerably increase your expenses. However, when you weigh the benefits of buying and recycling a glass bottle of juice versus inflicting four 20-ounce plastic bottles of VitaminWater upon Mother Earth, you may come to the same realization that I did: It's no longer your call to make, is it? jkauffman@seattleweekly.com The experienced cook and/or chemist will note two problems with these recipes. First: They lack vegetable-juice colorings and will appear clear, or possibly transparent with white specks. Second: a deficiency in fruity flavors. The solution to both problems would be either to add a sprinkling from a packet of Kool-Aid (blue raspberry's my favorite, and pretty) or to omit the crystalline fructose and replace 1 cup of water with 1 cup of fruit juice. Eight ounces of Knudson's Pure Black Cherry Juice ($3.49 per 32-ounce bottle) has the same 33 grams of sugar as a bottle of VitaminWater. You can even go organic with, say, Woodstock Farms Organic Pure Pineapple ($3.69 for the same amount), though here you'll have to add 7 grams of fructose to achieve the same naturally stimulating effects as the branded vitamin waters have. Real fruit juices considerably increase your expenses. However, when you weigh the benefits of buying and recycling a glass bottle of juice versus inflicting four 20-ounce plastic bottles of VitaminWater upon Mother Earth, you may come to the same realization that I did: It's no longer your call to make, is it? jkauffman@seattleweekly.com

 
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